Bites is Berkeleyside Nosh’s round-up of restaurant, bar and food-related news in the East Bay. Bites is produced by Nosh in collaboration with Christina Mitchell, founder of East Bay Dish. To stay up-to-speed with all that’s going on locally, read our daily Nosh Wire, and check out previous editions of Bites. We always love receiving food-related tips at

Coming soon…


MONARCH TRADING CO. Joel DiGiorgio plans to open a “Californian crafthouse” restaurant serving pizza, salads, and lots of California-centric wines and beers in the Caffe Venezia space at 1799 University Ave. in Berkeley. DiGiorgio, who was born and raised in Berkeley and comes from a restaurant background, tells Berkeleyside Nosh that his family are close friends of Caffe Venezia’s owners and he’s thrilled to be taking over the place. He says he has lots of exciting plans for Monarch Trading Co. which he hopes will be open by this summer. More details to follow. Meanwhile, Caffe Venezia will hold a “Farewell Venezia Opera Night” with stars of the West Edge Opera on Tuesday, April 9, $15 per person cover charge, classic Venezia menu. Call for reservations 510-849-4681.

Sweet Leaf Ted Friedman
Sweet Leaf: getting ready to open at 2468 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Ted Friedman

SWEET LEAF The Shamtoob family has been feeding Berkeley residents for decades with its trio of restaurants: Pancho’s Mexican Grill, King Pin Donuts (both in the Durant Food Court), and BayKing. The latter sweet shop, at 2468 Telegraph Ave., closed its doors about three months ago. Now Sasha Shamtoob is following in his father Dari’s footsteps. He is getting ready to open Sweet Leaf Café in the old BayKing site. The new café will offer lots of baked goods, cookies and muffins, and will also serve large, healthy salads. “There is no great salad store (on Telegraph) since Intermezzo burned down a year ago,” Shamtoob told Berkeleyside. Sweet Leaf Café will offer a signature salad with mixed lettuces, sprouts, garbanzo and black beans, shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, egg and croutons. The “sweet” in the name refers to the baked goods and the “leaf” refers to the salads.

joshu-ya brasserie, jason kwon, fb
Jason Kwon, who has taken over Ann’s Kitchen and will rename it The Bleecker Street Bistro.

BLEECKER STREET BISTRO About a month ago, Jason Kwon, chef-owner of Joshu-ya Brasserie at 2441 Dwight Way in Berkeley took over Ann’s Kitchen, the much-loved casual breakfast and brunch restaurant around the corner at 2498 Telegraph. The plan is to close Ann’s sometime this summer and reopen as The Bleecker Street Bistro. Not much has changed yet under the new ownership, but Kwon has started donating 10% of the restaurant’s proceeds to Build Hope International. He has also started writing a cookbook memoir with a working title F’n Animal in the Kitchen.

kain'bigan facebook
Charleen Caabay will open Kain’bigan on Oakland’s 14th Street

KAIN’BIGAN Chef-owner Charleen Caabay just signed the lease for her first restaurant on 14th Ave. in Oakland after cooking at pop-up events locally for several years. Kain’bigan, which means “let’s eat, my friends” in Tagalog, will serve Filipino comfort food like chicken adobo, pancit noodles, and of course, lumpia. There’s a fundraising campaign going on if you would like to help open the restaurant. 2101 14th Ave., Oakland.

EASY CREOLE A new restaurant is to open in the former Ming’s Chinese Kitchen at 1761 Alcatraz Ave. (at Ellis) in Berkeley, says Tablehopper. Grant Gooding, Jess McCarter, and Jeron Thomson started Easy Creole a pop-up in San Francisco, and the brick-and-mortar location will offer traditional New Orleans dishes (Shrimp Creole, Jambalaya), along with creative interpretations (Spinach-Mushroom étouffée, Sweet Vegan Gumbo). The plan is to open for lunch and dinner in about a month.

What else is going on…

berkeley wine festival

BERKELEY WINE FESTIVAL The Berkeley Wine Festival kicks off this weekend at the Claremont Hotel with a grand opening reception. This year, Scott Quinn, the new chef at The Meritage at the Claremont, will be there, along with other Berkeley chefs and more than 45 wines to sample. There’s a free shuttle from the Rockridge BART station for commuters. The festival continues with a brunch the next day and weekly wine dinners through May. Claremont Hotel & Resort, 41 Tunnel Road, 800-551-7266, Sat, March 16, 4-9 p.m.

BEHIND THE CART Behind the Cart is a privately held dinner series, organized by occasional Berkeleyside Nosh contributor Michael Davidson (aka the GrilledCheezGuy) that brings together some of the Bay Area’s best food carts, trucks, and chefs to prepare a meal together for guests in a secret location. Each meal includes a discussion between the chefs and the guests to share stories, talk about food and food issues, and generally share in their passion for food. On March 30 BTC will host its fifth event in the series. East Bay food trucks will serve as the backdrop to the dinner so guests can get a “behind the scenes” look at “behind the cart.” (View the menu.) The dinner will be held on March 30 at 7 p.m. at a secret location in SOMA. More details on Behind the Cart’s Facebook page and buy tickets.

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SOLEIL BANGUID Sadly, Soleil Banguid, the much-loved chef-owner of Soleil’s African Cuisine on Webster Street in Alameda passed away after suffering from a stroke at the age of just 45. Banguid and his wife TJ were preparing to promote his food at Whole Foods Market. A native of the Democratic of the Congo, he was an accountant before he started cooking food from different regions of Africa, first at the Farmers Market and then at The Frog & Fiddle in Alameda. Read more in The Alamedan.

umami mart lease signing party

UMAMI MART Last summer, the owners of Japanese kitchenware shop Umami Mart were given a daruma to celebrate their grand opening. Traditionally, one eyeball is drawn in while making a wish, then the other eye is filled in when the wish comes true. The wish was to sign a lease after six months of free rent negotiated through Popuphood’s neighborhood revitalization project. And they did it! Umami Mart will be setting up shop in Old Oakland for at least another two years. To thank the community for all the support, they’re having a Lease-Signing Party with champagne. RSVP to 815 Broadway, Oakland. 510-575-9152.

Photo: Haven
Photo: Haven

HAVEN Haven’s Chef Kim Alter is up for a people’s choice award for best new chef in a Food & Wine online contest. Voting lasts through March 18. Alter is the only East Bay chef in the mix, so show some local love if you’re a fan. Vote here. (See a NOSH photo feature on Haven here.)

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to nosh@berkeleyside.comFollow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Some of these items may first have appeared in Shop Talk, Berkeleyside’s regular column in which we post updates on Berkeley businesses. Got a tip for Nosh Bites? Send it

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