Dana Zumot, the new owner of Tia's, a cafe that has replaced Levant, which was only open a few weeks. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Dana Zumot, the new owner of Tia’s, a cafe that has replaced Levant, which was only open a few weeks. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Openings, closings…

TIA’S A new café called Tia’s is set to open imminently at the spot once occupied by the short-lived Levant Organic Café on the corner of Kittredge and Oxford streets in downtown Berkeley. The owner, Dana Zumot, has previously worked as a restaurant manager and her love of cooking led her to open her own place at 2177 Kittredge St. Tia’s will be a casual café serving salads and panini sandwiches, as well as coffee and tea. With its location close to the Cal campus, and its light-filled atmosphere, Zumot is hoping Tia’s becomes a popular hang-out space. Telephone the café at 510-647-9863 to confirm it is open before venturing out.

Bittersweet chocolate
Bittersweet chocolate

BITTERSWEET CAFE Chocolate and coffee spot Bittersweet Café has closed its University Avenue store. Bittersweet has two other shops — in downtown Oakland and in Rockridge — which remain open. In an Oct. 2 Facebook post, the café wrote: “Dear friends and fans of the University Ave. Bittersweet. We had intended to reopen October 1 with a new menu and new look, but a variety of factors conspired against us. We are sad to leave the neighborhood and feel like we never quite got our footing. We so appreciate your patronage and please come visit us at either our Rockridge location (5427 College Ave.) or our downtown Oakland location at 1438 Broadway, where we have a brand new lunch menu.” Bittersweet Café was founded in 2004 by partners Penelope Finnie and Diana Meckfessel. Finnie recently handed over the business to long-time employee David Salowich. All three of Bittersweet’s East Bay shops served chocolate and coffee drinks as well as pastries and sandwiches. They also roast their own coffee and make their own chocolate. We will report more on this shortly. The change follows the news that Slow, another much-loved food spot, also shuttered in the same block. Connect with Bittersweet on Facebook and Twitter.

Longbranch logo

LONGBRANCH NEARLY OPEN Tablehopper reports this week that San Pablo Avenue restaurant Longbranch — which took over the old Sea Salt location — is open or opening soon. (Sea Salt closed in late 2012 after seven years of operation. It was briefly replaced by a restaurant called Eat + Lounge, which didn’t last long.) Longbranch reported Sept. 30, on Facebook, that it had been cleared to open: “Passed inspections today so doors will be open for entertaining in just a matter of weeks.” Longbranch has a pre-opening kick-off party scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 17. Learn more on Facebook. Longbranch is located at 2512 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley. Connect with the business on Facebook.

Photo: Kushido
Photo: Kushido

KUSHIDO OPENS IN OAKLAND A new yakitori spot has opened in Oakland on Telegraph Avenue. Kushido features skewers of meat grilled over charcoal — more than 20 varieties — as well as Japanese beer on tap and sake. Inside Scoop SF said the new Japanese izakaya has a “sushi-style bar around [the dining area] so the customers can actually see the cooking.” Owner Jonathan Moon told Inside Scoop the focus will be more on the alcohol than the food. Moon ran a restaurant in San Francisco, and brought in two chefs, from Ozumo and Umani, to run his kitchen. Kushido is located at 4828 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Connect with the business on its website, and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Photo: Descanso
Photo: Descanso

DESCANSO ON PIEDMONT Descanso, which means “relax,” is the name of the game at a new restaurant on Piedmont Avenue. Owners say the name is also “a way of being.” Using a friend’s “championship BBQ philosophies,” the Latin American bar and restaurant focuses on slow-cooked meats and vegetables. The restaurant opened within the past few weeks in what used to be Park Avenue Bar & Grill. Not all the Yelp reviews are glowing but one local resident had this to say: “Fresh ceviche, pineapple jalapeno infused tequila margaritas, relaxing in and outdoor ambiance, fair prices, and nice people. Naturally, I am hooked. Been there twice already this week.” See the menuFind Descanso at 4184 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Photo: Plank Oakland
Photo: Plank Oakland

PLANK OPEN IN JACK LONDON A 50,000-square-foot interactive entertainment venue has opened in Oakland’s Jack London Square, bringing “bowling, bocce, [an] outdoor beer garden and diverse menu” to downtown. Plank opened Oct. 10 and offers “diverse urban cuisine” as well as 50 beer varieties along with its wide range of activities. The business is operated by Trifecta Management, which describes Plank as the first concept of its kind in the Bay Area. Chef Jason Moniz — who oversaw the kitchens at Flora in Oakland, Tres Agaves in San Francisco and Table 24 in Orinda — is in charge of the menu. According to Plank, that includes shared-plate offerings such as crab cakes, chorizo fundido and charred shisito peppers, and larger entrée options like the char siu burrito, salt pork ramen, classic burgers and hearth-oven pizzas. Fire pits outside, three 60-foot bocce ball courts and scenic bay views are sure to entertain. Inside the building are 12 bowling lanes, 60 interactive games, and televisions galore, not to mention “sports viewing on larger-than-life projection screens.” Plank is located at 98 Broadway in Oakland. Connect with the business in its website, Facebook and Twitter.

BURGERS BY THE LAKE Luke Tsai over at the East Bay Express reports that Grand Lake neighbors have a new burger shop to celebrate. JJ Burger opened in September in what used to be Kung Pao Kitchen. Owner Joseph Huang says char-broiled, 6-ounce Angus beef burgers are his focus, as well as “what you’d find at an old-fashioned diner: burgers, onion rings, milk shakes, and the like.” Tsai said brioche buns, custom toppings and fresh produce are also part of Huang’s approach. JJ Burger is located at 3415 Grand Ave., and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Other notable events…

Tanya Holland

FOOD TALK ON MENU AT UNCHARTED Inspiring food pioneers, including Tanya Holland, Saru Jayaraman, Douglas Gayeton, Laura Howard, Daphne Miller, Marissa La Brecque, and Twilight Greenaway will be at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Oct. 24-25. There will also be delicious food and wine at the Uncharted Party at the University Club on top of Cal Memorial Stadium. Use promo code Nosh14 to get a discount on your tickets, which you can buy at www.berkeleyideas.com.

Dish at Iyasare

BEST MODERATELY PRICED SPOTS  The venerable Michelin Guide unveiled its Bib Gourmand picks this week for the SF Bay Area. These are the restaurants it defines as being “moderately priced.” Translated, that means restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included). Fifteen of the 78 restaurants chosen are in the East Bay. They are: Bellanico, Chevalier, Michel Bistro, Ramen Shop and Wood Tavern in Oakland; China Village in Albany; Comal, Corso, FIVE, Gather, Great China, Ippuku, Iyasare, Rivoli and Thai House in Berkeley.

Recent Nosh stories, in case you missed them:

Michael Bloomberg donates $83,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax
Lexicon project aims to improve country’s food system, starting with words
Three essential kitchen tools you probably don’t have but should
New ‘shaved snow’ shop aims for Telegraph Avenue

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Berkeleyside is Berkeley, California’s independently-owned local news site. Learn more about the Berkeleyside team. Questions? Email editors@berkeleyside.org.