Diablo Dish: September
September brings artisanal ice cream, souped-up Mexican food, deep-dish pizza and more!
Comal: Fish tacos
Photo by Rich H. // Yelp.com
Already mourning the end of the summer? There’s a sweet, creamy light at the end of the tunnel. Cesar Angobaldo and Deb Phillips are set to start serving artisanal ice cream in Walnut Creek by mid October. Lottie’s Creamery will offer seasonal, organic ice cream with mix-ins made in-house. Phillips, who worked in Berkeley’s foodie dessert spot Ici, will even make her own ice-cream base (most creameries use premixed milk, cream, sugar, and eggs). With their own pasteurizer, the Lottie’s team can control the texture and consistency of each flavor. While the new creamery, replacing Erawan Thai on North Main, will serve grown-up flavors (cardamom, chipotle-cinnamon), Phillips says they will also offer fun, kid-friendly favorites like s’mores and cheesecake. “We think it’s a perfect fit for Walnut Creek,” says Phillips. “This is going to be a gourmet product, and I don’t think there’s anyone out here who is doing this with ice cream.”
Downtown Berkeley is stepping up its food offerings, just in time for the fall arts season. New souped-up Mexican restaurant Comal has been generating rave reviews since opening on Shattuck Avenue, joining Revival, Gather, and Ippuku in the rejuvenated foodie area. And it will soon have company: East Bay native and California Culinary Academy grad Nicholas Eftimiou is planning Pathos Restaurant & Bar, a high-end Greek restaurant at 2430 Shattuck Avenue, by early October. Eftimiou worked at Jack’s in Pleasant Hill and San Bruno and spent time in the kitchens of Bay Area Greek eateries Kokkari, Evvia, and Dio Deka, and is looking to combine top-quality food with casualness and affordability. “I think the ultimate goal is to be Kokkari-esque but more cost effective. This is going to be for average people.” It’s also going to be certified organic, as befits its Berkeley locale.
Next door to Comal, Paul Oprescu and Damien Morrison plan to open Belli, a modern Italian restaurant, by October 1. A longtime teacher, Oprescu has dabbled in food (including making charcuterie and interning at the now-shuttered Eccolo) and plans to make all the pasta from scratch, with an emphasis on ravioli. Belli will offer a rotating selection of up to 35 variations of the stuffed noodle, including black squid ink with seafood and one with seared prawns, Gorgonzola, and caramelized shallots. “Ravioli is kind of a blank slate; it’s a way to test out all kinds of ingredients and fillings,” he says. “I want to do to ravioli in the East Bay what Pizzaiolo did for pizza.”
Speaking of which, Patxi’s Chicago Pizza, the S.F.–based deep-dish chain that opened a Lafayette branch last year, is expanding to Livermore, adding to that city’s booming dining scene. (Does anyone cook at home anymore?) Owner William Freeman says he’s shooting for the first quarter of 2013 to open the 3,300-square-foot space on First Street next to the Bankhead Theater. That’s across the way from the popular Sauced BBQ & Spirits, and it joins El Sacromonte, Double Barrel Wine Bar, and Winemaker’s Pour House, other new additions to downtown.
Can’t wait for next year for your deep-dish fix? Zachary’s is set to debut in November in downtown Pleasant Hill. There’s plenty of activity in that downtown area as well, with the new Nama Sushi and rumors of two more eateries on the way.
Recent openings: Bar and restaurant vets Arash Pakzad and Ashley Afferino bring modern comfort fare to downtown Martinez with Barrel Aged while Casse-Croûte Bakery, an authentic French bakery, opened in Livermore.