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Diablo Dish — October '09

Yet more restaurants opening in Jack London Square; Vanessa's Bistro 2 in Walnut Creek; fresher produce in Lafayette; and more in this month's Dish.


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The first restaurants in the much-anticipated “new” Jack London Square are set to open this fall, led by Bocanova on September 1, followed by Miette bakery’s production facility later in September and its storefront in November, and finally Bracina in December. You’ll have to wait for a few months to try Pizzeria Zanna Bianco, slated for an early 2010 opening. And just north of there, Chop Bar took over Mono’s old space. Open for breakfast and lunch, the eatery is planning a tapas-style dinner menu with wine available on tap.

Vanessa Dang, the former Bridges chef and co-owner of Vanessa’s Bistro in Berkeley, is planning a Walnut Creek eatery to be run by her sons, Michael Nguyen and Jimmy Pham. Set to open November 1 in the old Tokyo Lobby on North Main Street, Vanessa’s Bistro 2 will offer the same menu of Vietnamese tapas with a French twist. A few blocks away on Locust Street, Walnut Creek natives Jim and Jennifer Telford hope to open Residual Sugar Wine Bar & Merchant by the end of November. A trained sommelier, Jim says the wine bar will offer a whopping 800 wines by the taste, glass, and flight, with customers given the option to pop open and sample any bottle in the store, no purchase required.

Berkeley’s loss is Lafayette’s gain, as Bill Fujimoto from the famed Monterey Market has been hired as a consultant by Diablo Foods to take the Lafayette grocer’s produce up a notch. Citing a “family disagreement” with his siblings, Fujimoto has cut his ties with the Berkeley market started by his father nearly 50 years ago and says he is looking to open his own store, possibly in Contra Costa. Since Fujimoto’s arrival in July, Diablo Foods has begun offering more seasonal fare from such farms as Full Belly in Capay Valley and Goldbud in Placerville.

Savor sushi? Then you’ll want to try Yanagi Sushi & Grill, which opened mid-August in the new Shops at Tralee Village in Dublin. The California restaurant chain boasts over 200 dishes, 30 California wines, and more than 30 kinds of sake and beer. Walnut Creek’s Chinese restaurant Dragon 2000 is also reaching out to lovers of raw fish with its new sushi bar. The sushi news isn’t as good in Danville and Lafayette: Kane Sushi was hit with a civil suit and citations by the state’s Labor Commissioner alleging serious labor law violations, including taking tips from its waitstaff, failing to pay overtime, and coercing staff to falsify time cards.

It’s a lot more lighthearted over at The Grand Tavern. The family-run Oakland restaurant (son owns, mom cooks, daughter brings it all to your table) is livening things up with quirky events such as wine-tasting dress-up parties and “beer tasting with a new friend” singles mixers. Check out its Facebook page for details.

Craving something smoky? Two new barbecue joints dish out Southern comfort foods in Oakland: Berkeley’s Looney’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que opened a second spot on Martin Luther King Way near Children’s Hospital, named Looney’s Southern Bar-B-Que. Meanwhile, Taste of Joy Barbeque & Southern Cuisine reopened at a new location on Grand in September.

Got Dish? E-mail us at dish@maildiablo.com.

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