Photo: Passione Pizza
Passione Pizza’s food truck is serving up on Berkeley’s Fifth Street. Photo: Passione Pizza

Openings, closings…

PASSIONE PIZZA NOW HAS A FOOD TRUCK Berkeley-based pizza company Passione Pizza debuted its first fully functional food truck in October in Sacramento. The truck will make its first East Bay appearance next week. Passione has been selling pre-made pizza dough and par-baked pizzas using high-quality wheat and gluten-free flours since 2013. The company had operated a mobile pizza oven for catering events since its beginnings, but owner Fabrizio Cercatore, who also runs Hot Italian in Emeryville, says on the company website that the demand far exceeded the capacity of the small oven. Hence, the new food truck. Passione has been very well-received so far. Yelper Michael M. said, “Passione Pizza tastes exactly like the fresh bread served in the trattorias in Rome.” Dave F. called the crust “amazing.” And Nana D. said of the pre-made dough: “It is by far the best pizza dough I have ever tried making it at home!” Passione Pizza is at 2326 5th Street (between Bancroft and Channing ways), Berkeley. Connect with the pizzeria on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo: Park Street Grill
Photo: Park Street Grill

PARK STREET GRILL DEBUTS IN ALAMEDA Historic Alameda watering hole McGee’s Bar and Grill has changed things up in its kitchen. Current owners Tim and Tracy Goodman have brought in chefs Scott Cardel and Michele Cavaleri to revamp the menu, and they are calling the new restaurant within the bar Park Street Grill. Cadel and Calaveri are cooking “new and innovative pub-style cuisine.” Park Street Grill is also adding a brunch menu for football fans on the weekends. The bar will continue to offer beers from local breweries like Faction and Alameda Brewing Company, plus cocktails featuring local booze from St. George Spirits. Park Street Grill at McGee’s Bar and Grill is at 1645 Park St. (between Buena Vista and Pacific avenues), Alameda. Connect with the bar on Facebook

Photo: The Rec Room
Photo: The Rec Room

THE REC ROOM: NOW OPEN The Rec Room, a “family spot” where parents and caretakers can come with small children to eat, learn through a variety of classes and workshops, and chat, opened in September in the Lorin District (as tipped by us in March). The café held its grand opening on Halloween. In addition to local, organic, and nut-free food, coffee and tea, The Rec Room offers everything from free pre-school activities and child-minding, to classes on creative writing, cooking and science for elementary-aged children. The Rec Room is at 3222 Adeline St. (between Fairview and Harmon streets). Connect with the café on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Wine Thieves
Wine Thieves

WINE THIEVES: SHUTTERED The Berkeley branch of Wine Thieves, at 2926 Domingo Ave. in the Claremont neighborhood, has abruptly closed, we reported in Shop Talk this week. A notice on the door, spotted Tuesday, reads: “It is with deep regret and much sadness that after five years in this location our lease is up and we will not be renewing it. We have developed many great friends [and] customers and have had wonderful neighbors over these years. Thank you so much to all [of] you who have supported us.” The note then encourages patrons to visit the Wine Thieves store on Mt Diablo Blvd. in Lafayette.

What else is going on…

Dungeness crab with roe, kohlrabi, raw green garlic and sorrel at Commis in Oakland. Photo: Emile Raguso
Dishes like this Dungeness crab salad at Commis in Oakland will not be available until the Department of Public Health’s warning about deadly neurotoxin levels has been lifted. Photo: Emile Raguso

DUNGENESS CRAB OFF THE MENU, FOR NOW Bad news, crab fans. The California Department of Public Health announced that there are potentially deadly levels of domoic acid in Dungeness and rock crab caught along the coastline between Oregon and the southern border of Santa Barbara Country. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin that is produced by algae and accumulates in shellfish, sardines and anchovies. Exposure to the toxin can have effects ranging from relatively mild vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and headache to severe seizures, short-term memory loss and possibly death. The state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is recommending a delay in Dungeness season and that the rock crab fishery be closed. Crab season was originally scheduled to begin Nov. 15, and there’s no word yet on when it will be able to begin. We will keep you posted.

FIVE EAST BAY COMPANIES ARE 2016 GOOD FOOD AWARDS FINALISTS This week, the Good Food Awards announced the finalists for its 2016 awards and five East Bay food companies made the cut. Frequent winners Fra’ Mani Foods (Berkeley), INNA Jam + Shrub (Emeryville) and La Tourangelle (Berkeley) made the cut for their soppresseta, quince shrub and Cherokee Purple shrub, and roasted walnut oil, respectively. Also gaining recognition were the pork rillettes from Wooden Spoons (Oakland) and the “brown label” hot sauce from Lucky Dog (Hayward). The finalists were chosen during a blind tasting held in September. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in January 2016.

Pyramid equipment. Photo: David Kenney.
The Pyramid equipment was removed from the building in September. Photo: David Kenney.

ATLANTA-BASED BREWERY BUYS PYRAMID EQUIPMENT A quick update on the now-shuttered Pyramid Alehouse on Gilman Street in West Berkeley: Sweetwater Brewing, the South’s largest craft brewery, purchased all of Pyramid’s brewing equipment, reported Brewbound. The purchase marks the beginning of a westward expansion of the Atlanta-based company, which plans on opening its secondary brewing facility “somewhere in the Pacific time zone” in 2017. The brewing equipment includes a fully-automated, 4 vessel, 130-barrel brewhouse, 3 silos and over 31 fermentation and brite beer tanks, which translates to around 400,000 barrels of beer. Brewbound said that Sweetwater had also looked at purchasing the entire facility, but at the time of its inquiry, the building had already been acquired by developer Retail West, Inc. (Read our story on the plans for the building.)

Fried chicken sandwich at The Half Orange. Photo: The Half Orange
Photo: The Half Orange

HALF ORANGE FRYING CHICKEN Fruitvale’s The Half Orange has expanded its menu once again to include a pretty awesome looking fried chicken sandwich. It’s made with beer-battered Mary’s chicken, cabbage-kale slaw and jalapeño aioli, all piled up in between a Starter Bakery bun. Owner Jay Porter says the sandwich will go well with any beer or cider on the menu, and he also likes it paired with white wine. The Half Orange is at 3340 E. 12th St. (at E. 33rd Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Twitter.

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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...