The new Fruitvale Beer Garden at The Half Orange. Photo courtesy: Jay Porter/The Half Orange

Openings, closings…

THE HALF ORANGE NOW HAS A BEER GARDEN Fruitvale’s sausage-hamburger-beer joint has now become a little more beer-centric. The Half Orange just finished expanding its patio to include a “proper” beer garden, owner Jay Porter told NOSH in an email. He’s calling the expansion the “Fruitvale Beer Garden at The Half Orange,” in homage to the many beer gardens that used to populate the neighborhood. It should be a good spot — Porter has added 40 seats and a big screen TV, expanded the draft system to 13 taps, and is rolling out new dinner specials like pulled pork chili and a “catch of the day” fish filet. Once temperatures cool back down, Porter will also be installing heaters. The Half Orange is celebrating the expansion with a grand opening party next Saturday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. All beers that day will be $4.95. The full menu will also be available. The Half Orange is at 3340 E. 12th St. (at E. 33rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Twitter.

NICO’S HIDEAWAY TO GOURMET GHETTO North Berkeley will soon have a new Italian-American joint. Nico’s Hideaway is close to opening in the old La Fable space in Walnut Square. The restaurant has an “opening soon,” sign out front as well as an active Facebook page and website. (Its phone number, unfortunately, is not yet functional.) According to the restaurant’s website, Nico’s Hideaway aims to be a destination for diners looking for everything from “an intimate night, a neighborhood bar where we know your name, or a family friendly ristorante where your kids are comfortable and love their food.” A quick glance at the opening menu reveals a concise collection of salads, sandwiches, and a few main dishes. Italian-American stalwarts like chicken Milanese and calamari are intertwined with more rarefied dishes like lobster bolognese and a dry-aged rib-eye. Nico’s Hideaway will be at 1508 Walnut St., Suite B (at Vine Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Fried Brussels sprouts at Mockingbird. Photo: Mockingbird/Facebook

MOCKINGBIRD IS MOVING Uptown Oakland California bistro Mockingbird is moving locations, the restaurant announced on its Facebook page earlier this month. The restaurant’s “new nest” will be at 418 13th St. (at Franklin Street), the former location of Ba Vo Vietnamese restaurant, reports the East Bay Express. Details are slim on the reason for the move; however, owners Melissa Axelrod and William Johnson are planning to have a full liquor license at the new spot, which means that Mockingbird will be able to serve wine for the first time since last fall. While Mockingbird will not be moving until next spring, Axelrod and Johnson are hosting an open house at the new location on Sunday Sept. 13. RSVP to Mockingbird is currently at 1745 San Pablo Ave. (at 18th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

Casa Cubana. Photo: thewongmann/Chowhound

CASA CUBANA GETTING CLOSE? Earlier this summer, we brought you news of a new restaurant planning to open in the old Vo’s location in Uptown. Casa Cubana has been undergoing renovation, and it now has an active ABC license, website and Facebook page. The opening shouldn’t be too long from now. Casa Cubana is a project of restauranteurs Sam Duvall and Joe Kohn, who also own Izzy’s Steaks & Chops in San Francisco. According to the restaurant’s website, Casa Cubana will be a “Cuban inspired experience featuring contemporary regional cuisine, fun craft cocktails, as well as showcasing one of the largest Cuban art collections in the country.” Casa Cubana will be at 59 Grand Ave. (at Webster Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Photo: Jered’s Pottery
Photo: Jered’s Pottery

JERED’S POTTERY NOW FIRING IN RICHMOND Jered’s Pottery has officially moved its operations from Berkeley’s San Pablo Avenue to Richmond. The move coincides with the release of owner Jered Nelson‘s restaurant-centric collection, called The California Line. Nelson has been producing custom dinnerware for top Bay Area restaurants such as Michael Mina, Coi, Rich Table and Berkeley’s Standard Fare for five years. The California line has the same elements as the restaurant dinnerware (asymmetrical balance, obtuse angles, and floating shadows) to “frame and highlight food.” To celebrate the move, Jered’s is hosting a grand opening party all day Saturday Sept. 12 at the new studio. The event will include live music, cookies made in the kiln, and studio tours. Jered’s Pottery is at 867 S. 19th St. (at Meeker Avenue), Richmond. Connect with the studio on Facebook.

Eureka! Concord is now open. Photo courtesy: Eureka!

EUREKA! NOW OPEN IN CONCORD Eureka!, the modern American restaurant and craft beer chain, has now opened its Bay Area location in the Willows Shopping Center in Concord. In addition to 40 American craft beers and an “extensive” selection of small-batch whiskeys, Eureka! Concord is offering a modern twist on American classics such as mussels steamed in golden ale, “lollipop” corndogs, and a burger served with bone marrow porcini butter, grilled onion, roasted tomato and mustard aioli. Eureka! also serves an extensive brunch menu on the weekends, complete with decadent takes on eggs Benedict and $5 mimosas. Eureka! currently also has a location at 2068 Center St. in Downtown Berkeley. Eureka! Concord is at 1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord. Connect with the restaurant on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

What else is going on…

The Rivoli team, including new chef de cuisine, Michael Williams (second from left) and owners Roscoe Skipper (third from left) and Wendy Brucker (second from right). Photo courtesy: Rivoli

RIVOLI TAKES ON NEW CHEF DE CUISINE The long-running Solano Avenue restaurant is now running under the watchful eye of former Gregoire and Corso chef Michael Williams. Rivoli has been in business for over two decades; Williams plans to build on the restaurant’s history of providing solid takes on California cuisine while expanding the cuisine’s influences to include Latin, Asian and North African influences. Williams has also added a five-course tasting menu to Rivoli’s menu. Notably, the tasting showcases entirely different dishes from the regular menu with slightly more adventurous flavor combinations. Recent dishes include yellow corn pierogi with chanterelles and rosemary; a “petite custard” with chicories, bacon, pickled chili and maple; and California spot prawns with fennel, pork belly and eggplant relish. Rivoli is at 1539 Solano Ave. (at Neilson Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.

Peter Van Kleef at Cafe Van Kleef’s 10 year anniversary party. Photo: Cafe Van Kleef/Facebook
Peter Van Kleef at Cafe Van Kleef’s 10 year anniversary party. Photo: Cafe Van Kleef/Facebook

PETER VAN KLEEF DIES AT 65, MEMORIAL THIS SATURDAY The owner of the iconic Cafe Van Kleef bar in Uptown Oakland died of liver and kidney failure Sept 8, reported the Bay Area News Group. Peter Van Kleef opened his eponymous bar in 2004, anticipating the revitalization of the nightlife scene that now characterizes the neighborhood. Cafe Van Kleef regular Gil Duran told BANG, “In the eyes of many people, Peter was the godfather of the Uptown Oakland renaissance.” Indeed, one can see Van Kleef’s influence in many of the Oakland bars to open in the last decade; freshly-squeezed Greyhound cocktails are now as much Oakland’s signature cocktail as they are Van Kleef’s. A memorial for Van Kleef is tentatively scheduled for Saturday outside the bar. Cafe Van Kleef is at 1621 Telegraph Ave. (at 17th Street), Oakland. Connect with the bar on Facebook and Twitter.

HEIDI SWANSON DINNER AT CAMINO San Francisco blogger and cookbook author Heidi Swanson will be celebrating the release of her newest book, “Near and Far” at Camino next Thursday, Sept. 17. The $120 dinner will feature dishes from Swanson’s cookbook, all prepared in Camino’s fireplace. Tickets include drinks, snacks and a “multi-course feast,” and books will be available for purchase. More information is available hereCamino is at 3917 Grand Ave. (between Jean Street and Sunny Slope Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.

The Shrub and Co. team: Matt Bruns, Marianna Bruns, Deborah Marksey, and Juan Garcia. Photo: Kate Williams

SHRUB AND CO., GATHER RESTAURANT PARTY IN PORT COSTA Cocktail fans looking for a fun Wednesday should check out The Dram Shop’s cocktail party Sept. 16. Co-hosted by Berkeley’s Shrub and Co. and Philadelphia’s Art in the Age Spirits, the evening drink fest will feature drinks made by Gather bartender Dan Sheel. The Dram Shop pops up at Port Costa’s Bull Valley Roadhouse every Wednesday evening; Bay Area bartenders take over the bar and set a cocktail theme for the evening. Bites from the Roadhouse kitchen will be tailored to the evening’s cocktails. Those not wishing to drive their own car up to Port Costa can hop on the “Mexican Bus Shuttle,” which leaves from MacArthur BART at 3:45. Contact to snag a ride. The Dram Shop at Bull Valley Roadhouse is at 14 Canyon Lake Dr., Port Costa. Connect with the pop-up on Facebook. Connect with Shrub and Co. on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

A table at last year’s Art of Mixology contest. Photo courtesy: Art of Mixology
A table at last year’s Art of Mixology contest. Photo courtesy: Art of Mixology

ART OF MIXOLOGY CONTEST Attention bartenders — the Lamorinda Arts Council is holding its annual Art of Mixology cocktail competition Oct. 10, and it is currently looking for entrants. On the table are cash prizes ($500 for first place, $250 for second and $100 for third), as well as the title “Mixologist of the Year.” The deadline for entry is Sept. 18. Those of us with less skill behind the bar can attend the contest, sip on the aspiring drinks, and submit our own votes for the audience favorite award. The Art of Mixology contest will be held at the Orinda Theater Square in Orinda.

AMY GUITTARD AT THE PASTA SHOP Get your chocolate fix at the book signing party for Guittard Chocolate‘s new cookbook, taking place at the Fourth Street Pasta Shop this Saturday, Sept. 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Cookbook author Amy Guittard will be on hand to sign books and field questions on the art of cooking with high-quality chocolate. Tasting samples of recipes from the cookbook will be available, as will a comparative tasting of different Guittard chocolates. The Pasta Shop is at 1786 4th Street (at Delaware Avenue), Berkeley.

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Kate Williams

Kate Williams has been writing about food since 2009. After spending two years developing recipes for cookbooks at America’s Test Kitchen, she moved to Berkeley and began work as a freelance writer and...