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Diablo Dish — October '08

Wine tasting at Livermore wineries just got a little pricier with La Rochelle Winery’s $15 Pinot Noir tasting flights, although that fee includes food paired with the wine and served in a sit-down setting.


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Wine tasting at Livermore wineries just got a little pricier with La Rochelle Winery’s $15 Pinot Noir tasting flights, although that fee includes food paired with the wine and served in a sit-down setting.

After you’ve drained the last drop of that Pinot, head over for some complimentary sips in El Sol’s new tasting room, which was due to open in September. While you’re in the area, visit Campo di Bocce to enjoy artfully arranged Italian fare by executive chef Michael J. Wogen, who, coincidentally, won Most Innovative Pairing with La Rochelle Winery at this year’s Taste of Terroir.
 

Ao Zai Bistro was due to open in September, filling the San Ramon spot vacated by Café Esin, which moved to Danville. “We’ll offer traditional and contemporary Vietnamese cuisines with a bit of an American twist,” says chef and co-owner Diana Tran, who plans to incorporate organic, locally grown ingredients.
 

A modern European bistro comes to Pleasant Hill’s lively stretch of Crescent Drive this fall. Shaadzee Bakery Café & Bistro will offer Italian pastry, a gelato bar, Russian-style tea brewed in samovars, and a deli.
 

It’s the hot seat for several Moraga restaurants caught selling alcohol to minors over the summer. During its annual Minor Decoy operation, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) found nearly half of Moraga’s restaurants (six out of 13) in violation. “That’s way above the average, and we hope to see that come down,” says John Carr, ABC public information officer. The statewide violation average is about 21 percent.
 

Berkeley’s remodeled and expanded pub, Henry’s, has gone gourmet. Chef Eddie Blyden, formerly of SoMa’s 21st Amendment, creates his “gastropub” cuisine with flavors inspired, in part, by Western Africa and the Caribbean. Also planned: family-style Sunday Suppers and autumn dishes, such as gumbo in small All-Clad pots and a twist on the Philly cheesesteak: braised oxtail with fondue.
 

We don’t want to label this healthy, organic fare “fast food,” but it comes quickly and inexpensively at Amanda’s Restaurant, which opened in downtown Berkeley in July. Deals include Amanda’s Original Combo, a (naturally raised) beef burger, baked fries, and freshly made soda for $6.75.
 

Speaking of quick healthy food, that’s the idea behind Tony Dudum’s new venture, The Pizza Place, opening two doors down from his 1515 Restaurant Lounge. The casual pizza/burger/salad eatery is slated to open this month. Also in Walnut Creek this month, Nordstrom’s relocated eBar espresso bar is set to open, with outdoor seating, in the alleyway area across from Clarks shoes.
 

Downtown Pleasanton’s Coffee Beans & Bistro reopens this fall as Café Main. The comfort food hangout will have a casual atmosphere, quick service, TVs, and free Internet. New owner Michael Hughes also owns nearby Baci Café, which recently added a full bar and a new executive chef.
 

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