BOX AND BELLS This week’s biggest opening has to be James Syhabout’s latest restaurant, Box and Bells, in Rockridge. Berkeleyside Nosh wrote about a preview of the endeavor in February at one of Syhabout’s other Oakland restaurants, Hawker Fare. Syhabout is most known for being the only Michelin-starred chef in the East Bay for his Piedmont Avenue restaurant Commis. With Box and Bells, he said he aimed to offer the “things we like to eat as cooks that no one else is making. On our days off we want to spoil ourselves and indulge.” Added executive chief Benjamin Coe, at the preview, “This is the food that we eat after a long day at Commis.” According to Inside Scoop, Syhabout has been working on Box and Bells for more than a year: “It’s about getting back to basic cooking,” he told the San Francisco-based food news blog, which is run by the San Francisco Chronicle. Box and Bells is located at 5912 College Ave., the former location of Somerset. Items featured on the menu include fried chicken with raw oyster mayonnaise, sea scallops with spaetzle, blood pudding poutine, bone marrow with bagna cauda crust and more. The full food and drinks menus are available online. Check out the restaurant’s Twitter feed for updates.
BONITA FISH MARKET As previously tipped on Nosh, Bonita Fish Market has opened up in the center of Berkeley, a block from Trader Joe’s. Owner Hong Nguyen said the business is modeled after Monterey Fish Market on Hopkins Street in North Berkeley. The shop has its grand opening today, Friday, Nov. 1. Nguyen is working with Truc Vuong, a commercial fisherman who will supply the market with fresh seafood daily. The shop is located at 1941 University Ave., and is offering 20% off to customers throughout November. Vuong said there has been a steady flow of shoppers today: “It’s actually been busier than we expected.” He said the foot traffic had been building up as the shop prepared to open, with many people expressing curiosity and interest in the new venture. Bonita is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The shop can be reached at 510-529-4372. (Hat tip: Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner of the Downtown Berkeley Association)
SIERRA NEVADA After hearing a rumor of a soft opening this week, we checked in with the folks at Sierra Nevada, who are opening the Torpedo Room tasting room in West Berkeley in the Reid Building at 2031 Fourth St. Ryan Arnold, Sierra Nevada’s spokesman, said construction is still wrapping up, and the business will then need to have its final inspection and approval before opening its doors. He said the Torpedo Room will definitely open in November, but that the exact date is still to be determined. Nosh will definitely keep you informed when we know more. “We’re going to get it rolling as soon as we’re able,” Arnold said Friday.
MEAD KITCHEN The Mead Kitchen, which we featured on Nosh in April, is finally hitting the streets with its honey brew, crafted by mead maker Dan Cook. Via co-owner Paul O’Leary, mead is already available on tap at Lanesplitter Pizza & Pub in West Berkeley, 2033 San Pablo Ave. Two more Lanesplitter locations (in Oakland and Emeryville) are coming up in mid-November, along with the Albany Taproom. More locations will be added in the coming months. Said O’Leary via email, “We’ll be offering three different types of mead on tap, OrangeGinger, Simcoe (Hops) and Cherry mead. Each bar will probably only have one tap dedicated to us at a time, so it’ll be a bit of a surprise for customers which of our mead is available at any given time.” Simcoe mead will be available at Urbano Cellars in refillable bottles. Read more about The Mead Kitchen on Berkeleyside Nosh. Connect with The Mead Kitchen on Facebook.
FILIPPO’S OUT, CUGINI IN Reader Lisa Sibony tipped us off to the closure of the Berkeley Filippo’s at 2930 College Ave., which she learned about via a letter posted in the restaurant window earlier this week. “So sad,” she wrote. “We absolutely loved their pizza!” A new restaurant, called Cugini, will be moving in. But, according to staff at Solano Avenue’s Cugini in Albany, the College Avenue location of the restaurant of the same name “is an independent business that has nothing to do with us.” The staffer said the new Cugini had plans to open this week, but had no information beyond that. We couldn’t find anything else online, and the Filippo’s phone number had been disconnected, but we’ll let you know if we can uncover more details. Filippo’s still appears to be open in Oakland at 5400 College Ave.
EUREKA! Eureka! restaurant at 2068 Center St. opened its doors Monday, Oct. 28. The restaurant aims to provide “an unforgettable, value-driven dining experience defined as ‘eatertainment,’ combining gourmet food, an innovative bar program, live sports, and live entertainment in a modern yet rustic setting.” The restaurant, part of a 10-location chain owned by Robert Suzuki, will have “locally sourced food, locally sourced music and locally brewed beer whenever available.” Eureka! will serve 30 American craft beers on tap, 21 small-batch American whiskeys, and many different hamburgers, including the Fig Burger, with fig marmalade, bacon and melted goat cheese, and the San Joaquin Veggie Burger served with arugula, tomato, lemon vinaigrette and homemade zucchini pickles. A ribbon cutting celebration with the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Nov. 21 from 5-7 p.m.
LE PETIT COCHON We brought you the news in September that Todd Kneiss (pictured right), the owner and chef of Bistro Liaison, was opening a new casual French café just a few yards north of the restaurant. Le Petit Cochon (“the little pig”) opened Oct. 23 at 1801 Shattuck Ave. Suite C, between Hearst and Delaware. It offers take-away items and has a few stand-up tables for stop-and-go noshing. Menu items include charcuterie, cheeses, baguettes, soups, rotisserie chicken, tarte flambée, specialty salads and sandwiches, as well as ice cream. The store also plans to sell gift baskets and holiday items after Thanksgiving, as well as kitchen items, olive oils, wines, truffles, salts, spices and gourmet food — items that Chef Todd hand-selects from his culinary journeys in France. Prices range from $7-$12. The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
TOGO’S Togo’s has opened its latest outpost at 2172 Shattuck Ave. near Center St. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Togo’s recently marked its 40th anniversary. It has 250 stores on the West Coast and plans to reach a total of 400 in the next few years, according to a company statement. A ribbon cutting with the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce is scheduled for Nov. 7 from 5-7 p.m.
CUP STORY A new Korean restaurant at 2384 Telegraph Ave., near Channing, is bringing the idea of fast food to a new level. Cup Story — which took the place of Pasta in a Box — serves a variety of Korean delicacies in a cup to go, like kimchi fried rice, curry, panfried noodle, pumpkin soup and more. Customers can order a small or large cup and prices range from about $4 to $8. Early reviews on Yelp are mixed.
PENROSE & SONS Via Diablo Dish, word on the street is that Penrose & Sons, a new bar and grill from Charlie Hallowell, is “cautiously targeting” a Nov. 15 launch. Diablo Dish previously reported that the bar will take center stage, but the food promises to be interesting too, with North African and Middle Eastern meat-focused dishes cooked in a wood-burning hearth. Penrose & Sons will be at 3311 Grand Ave., Oakland.
ALAMAR Also via Diablo Dish, a new seafood restaurant is coming to Uptown Oakland. alaMar, which means “to the sea,” will take the place of Noble Café at 100 Grand Ave. Chef Nelson German, a New York City native, says on the restaurant’s website that alaMar will bring “mouth-watering crustacean boils and unique eats” to Uptown. The decor is described as “industrial.” Don’t be afraid to get dirty; diners are encouraged to “roll up your sleeves and satisfy your primal instinct by diving into every dish – from starters to desserts – with your bare hands.” As for drinks, there will be a selection of local wines, “innovative” beer cocktails, hand-crafted mixed drinks and house-made sodas. For lunch, rustic artisanal sandwiches will be offered instead of seafood boils. An all-day Sunday brunch is planned. The opening date is listed on the website only as early 2014. Via Facebook, construction began Thursday. Learn more at http://www.alamaroakland.com.
OSMANTHUS Inside Scoop has the news that Osmanthus has opened this week in the former Nan Yang location. (Nan Yang closed over the summer.) According to the restaurant’s website, the eatery is “a modern-classic Asian restaurant” that focuses on “an array of Chinese Regional dishes, Japanese and South-East Asian flavors.” A full bar offers cocktails “inspired by Asian ingredients.” Menu highlights include “mouth watering” chicken, Asian cioppino, and a double-cut pork chop. See the full menu here. The restaurant is open for dinner from Tuesday through Sunday, with lunch to be added later. Osmanthus is located at 6048 College Ave.. Learn more at osmanthusrestaurant.com.
What else is going on…
ROSETTA COSTANTINO’S NEW COOKBOOK Coming up Saturday, Nov. 2, Oakland-based cooking teacher and author, Rosetta Costantino will be at The Pasta Shop Rockridge with her newest book, Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily. The book signing, conversation and tasting takes place at 5655 College Ave. from 1-3 p.m. Via The Pasta Shop: “Come meet Rosetta and learn the proper technique for braiding the Intorchiate (aka Almond Cookie Twists). Then try a taste as we sample them alongside the Sfogliatelle Ricce, flaky pastries with a semolina and ricotta filling. Hungry for more? These treats will be available for purchase, as well.” No charge except for purchases.
LUNCH OFF AT FUSEBOX We hear from our friends at FuseBOX in West Oakland that the business is taking a break from lunch service due to staffing changes, and is in the process of designing outdoor grill tables for the courtyard. Co-owner Ellen Sebastian Chang said she hopes to bring lunch back by the end of the month: “We have already hired two new great chefs and are still interviewing a few more.” FuseBOX is open for dinner on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 6-9 p.m. Happy Hour is offered on those days from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Stay tuned for special events and further details. FuseBOX is located at 2311A Magnolia St.
Recent Nosh stories (in case you missed them):
Spotlight: Chef Lisa Murphy of Sosu Sauces
At a glance: Black Spring Coffee Company in Oakland
Oakland Safeway gets green light for makeover
Find cheap eats easily with Bay Area Google map
Homestead: Seasonal, effortless cooking done right
Duo to open Creekwood restaurant in South Berkeley
Ms Barstool: Mixing it up improv style at Gather
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch up with previous Bites columns.