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The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013

Toast Oakland 5900 College Ave., 658-5900, toastoakland. com. Wine on tap is one of the many interesting offerings at Toast, a classy new wine bar joining the beer-dominated drinking establishments of College Avenue in Rockridge. Draught wine saves on glass and labeling costs, so customers can save money on premium wines, such as Andrew Lane’s smooth Cabernet Sauvignon–Gamay blend, then spend the savings on one of the hyper-seasonal offerings like a kale caesar salad or tender braised beef short ribs (they have a “daily braise” that changes nightly). Likewise, Toast’s small-plates menu changes often, according to what’s available, as does its wine list drawn from small production wineries. We discovered some lovely pairings on our visits: the Lemelson Dry Riesling, with the steamed clams in butter and white wine sauce, and the Bokisch Albariño from Lodi, with the asparagus salad topped with shaved hard-boiled egg. Lunch and dinner daily. 135$$ 62 theberkeleyoaklandbook.com Wood Tavern 6317 College Ave., 654-6607, woodtavern.net. Wood Tavern has established itself as one of the go-to spots in Rockridge by dishing out appealing, well-executed California cuisine in a sleek, fun atmosphere, such as arugula-asparagus salad and seared ahi over roasted artichokes and peppers. The menu, which changes daily, is matched with an exciting list of wines by the glass, local beers, and cocktails. The juicy pan-roasted half chicken, served with fingerling potatoes, is irresistible; the flatiron steak is also perfectly executed. Top ingredients are in evidence here, from sweet butter and fresh bread to the roasted almonds on the cheese platter. Service was sweet on one visit, glacial on the next. Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 2$$$ Yoshi’s 510 Embarcadero W., 238-9200, yoshis.com. This legendary jazz house and Japanese restaurant has been an East Bay cultural standby since it opened in the 1970s. Shotaro “Sho” Kamio, a native of Japan who devised the menu, replaced standard-issue teriyaki and tempura entrées with perfectly rendered “country-style” Japanese vegetables, including braised lotus and gobo (burdock) roots; seaweed sunomono with sesame tofu and sweet rice vinegar; and a grilled Kurobuta pork chop with fingerling potatoes that possesses a breathtaking clarity of flavor. We also love Sho’s inventive take on agedashi tofu and his cedar plank–grilled Scottish salmon. The service in both the restaurant and club is attentive and quick these days, and waitstaff explains the food in great detail. Dinner daily. 24$$$ Zachary’s Chicago Pizza 5801 College Ave., 655-6385, zacharys.com. During peak times at Zachary’s four locations, there’s a waiting list just to get on the waiting list. Pilgrims queue up for what seems like hours just for the honor of waiting another 30 to 40 minutes while their stuffed pizza is baked. It’s bedlam. But you won’t hear a peep of complaint from Zachary’s worshippers—and in the East Bay, who isn’t one? That’s because the pizzas that burst out of the chaotic kitchen are the best you’ve ever tasted. Two inches thick and piled with fresh, whole tomatoes that seem to scoff at their saucy brethren, the stuffed pies blend the perfect amount of crust, toppings, and melted cheese. They are supreme. Order ahead, or ye too shall tarry with the masses. Lunch and dinner daily. Also in Berkeley. 1$$ ■ dining listings »


The Oakland Berkley Book March 2013
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