Botella Republic wine bar/shop is set to open in the Berkeley Central building on Center Street in downtown in early 2014. Photo: Botella Republic

Openings, closings…

BOTELLA REPUBLIC You heard it here first: A new wine bar and shop is coming to downtown Berkeley. Botella Republic (pictured, top) will open on the street level of the Berkeley Central building at 2055 Center St. Owners Christopher Clarke and Lauren Brody-Clarke, a husband-and-wife team, plan to serve small production wines, craft beers and locally sourced artisanal meats and cheeses, as well as seasonal fruits and breads, in a Napa-style dining room. There will be hand-selected old world and new world wines for under $15 per bottle, as well as a reserve selection of small production premium wines. Wines customers will also be able to buy bottles of wine they love to take home. “We will be championing Californian wines within a global context,” said Clarke, who was formerly a design director at the Food Network. Brody-Clarke is an actress who most recently managed a wine shop. The couple, who hail from Brooklyn, have an affinity with Berkeley, Clarke said. He studied at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco and lived in the East Bay, and his family lives here. He cites many reasons for choosing their new location: likeminded folk who love good food, the proximity to wine country, and the accessibility of downtown. “Berkeley is the West Coast equivalent of Brooklyn — we feel we’re making a lateral transition,” he adds. The plan is to open in early 2014.


VENGA PAELLA The craze for all things Spanish continues with the soon-to-open Venga Paella, serving paella and tapas, coming to 229 Brush St., at the corner of Third Street, in Oakland. The restaurant is being launched off the back of Executive Chef and owner Eduardo Balaguer’s catering business of the same name. Balaguer’s pedigree is impeccable. He used to work at Casa Balaguer, his family’s traditional paella restaurant in Valencia, Spain, among other things. Look forward to tapas ($5-$10) such as Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with goat cheese; Tortilla Española; and Gambas al Ajillo. Entrees ($10-$14) will include traditional seafood paella with prawns, calamari, mussels, clams and Prather Ranch pork chorizo; and Black Squid Paella with calamari, mussels and red bell peppers. For dessert, think Flan and Manchego con Membrillo. Venga will also offer a take-out option.

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OFF THE GRID Food truck market Off the Grid Southside Berkeley returns to Telegraph Avenue on Monday Aug. 26, 5-9pm, after a summer hiatus. Expect the following vendors: Hapa SF, Hongry Kong, KoJa Kitchen, Sanguchon, Me So Hungry, and Frozen Kuhsterd. Visit the Facebook page for details. And don’t forget that El Cerrito now has its own Off The Grid market, on Fairmount Avenue between San Pablo Avenue and Carlson Boulevard, on Wednesdays, 5-9 p.m.

Bourbon and Beef

BOURBON & BEEF New Rockridge restaurant Bourbon & Beef (which we tipped in May) has opened in the old Water Lounge (and prior to that, Pearl) space at 5634 College Ave. It threw its doors open on Thursday. Nosh has yet to check it out but we caught a glimpse of the interior, pictured left, and it looks pretty cool. The menu is Latin-inspired with an emphasis on family-style, meat-driven plates like roast chicken and pork. Connect on Facebook.


TORPEDO SUSHI A new sushi restaurant, Torpedo Sushi, is coming soon to 25 Grand Ave. in Uptown Oakland, according to the East Bay Express. Torpedo Sushi is all about large, hand-held, uncut sushi roll (a Japanese burrito concept if you will) “stuffed fat with fresh ingredients and bursting with California-inspired flavors.” Torpedo Sushi hopes to open imminently.

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HENRY’S AT HOTEL DURANT The makeover is complete at Henry’s in Berkeley and the Hotel Durant’s restaurant is open with chef Ryan Lafferty (previously of T-Rex) at the helm. Expect classic American comfort food like burgers, sandwiches, and fried chicken. There will also be BBQ, and bacon as, accoridng to general manager Allison Lange, Lafferty is a “huge fan of bacon.” (Here’s the menu.) Henry’s is at 2600 Durant Ave. at Bowditch Street in Berkeley.


EL BURRO PICANTE We told you about the newly opened El Burro Picante, a new Mexican restaurant at 2021 University Ave. near Shattuck. Well, it seems permitting problems have shuttered the place temporarily. Reader Suzanne Yada reports that there is currently a note on the restaurant’s door that reads: “The city of Berkeley faulted on my business license processing and has now shut me down for the mistake that THEY made. I am doing my best to reopen ASAP. Thank you for your support and understanding!” Writing on the restaurant’s Facebook page, owner Masoud Fany says he’s hoping to open Saturday Aug. 24. Once it’s back up and running, expect lots of burrito and taco offerings, three televisions for the sports-loving crowd and, eventually, local microbrew beer and wine will be served soon.

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PIETISSERIE Pie shop PieTisserie, which has been operating out of a space carved into Mexican restaurant Nido at 444 Oak St. is moving to a new location, the East Bay Express reports. Owner Jaynelle St. Jean is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a new brick-and-mortar shop. In the meantime, check out the PieTisserie website for news, and for private orders which will resume soon.

DISCO VOLANTE After less than three years of business, restaurant/bar Disco Volante in Oakland closed suddenly this week. Oakland Local speculated that “Volante’s fate was sealed by the proliferation of new places which soon opened in the nearby area, including the Tribune Tavern, the Legionnaire, and the sports bar Halftime.”

What else is going on…

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CRONUT POPUP If you haven’t heard of cronuts, you’re out of the food loop. These doughnut-croissant mash-ups are huge on the East Coast, particularly in New York. Stag’s Lunchette and Bar Dogwood in Oakland, along with independent pastry chef Amie Bailey, will host a “Croughnut Popup” on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 9 a.m. at Stag’s, as reported in Inside Scoop. There will be three flavors available: Double G(ougin): Tahitian vanilla bean pastry cream filling, rolled in Tahitian vanilla scented sugar; Creamscicle: Clementine pastry cream filling, rolled in vanilla scented sugar; and Red Hot: Bourbon pastry cream filling, rolled in smoked chili sugar. Stag’s Lunchette: 362 17th St., between Franklin and Webster, Oakland.

Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):

Kitchener Oakland: Raising the bar for food artisans
Contest: Name that nosh
Nosh Talk: Jason Kwon, Owner-Chef, Joshu-ya Brasserie
Berkeley gardener supplies hyperlocal harvest to top Bay Area restaurants

Bites is Nosh’s round-up of restaurant openings, happenings and closings in the East Bay. Some of these items will have first appeared in Berkeleyside’s Shop Talk column. Got a tip or scoop? Send it our way to nosh@berkeleyside.com. Catch up with previous Bites columns.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...