NIZZA LA BELLA REPLACEMENT: STURMFREI Over the summer, we brought you the news of the closure of the well-loved Albany bistro, Nizza la Bella. The owner had decided to retire after 17 years of running the restaurant, and put the space, including its wood-fired oven, on the market. We’ve now learned that Nizza will be replaced by what sounds like a German restaurant called Sturmfrei. (The name, roughly translated, means “to have the run of the house,” or to have one’s place to oneself.) Owners Frieda Hoffman and Daniel Polsby have just filed an ABC license for the new restaurant, so its opening is likely at least several months off. It’ll be the first new project for Hoffman after selling her West Berkeley coffee shop, Local 123, to Highwire Coffee Roasters. Hoffman also works for the wine shop, Vintage Berkeley, according to her Facebook page. We’ve reached out to Hoffman to learn more about Sturmfrei, and we’ll keep you posted. UPDATE: We have heard from Hoffman, who says that she is currently looking for a tenant partner to manager the restaurant space, and does not have any concrete plans for the restaurant. She will have very little to do with the running of the restaurant. While she and her partner have filed for an ABC license, they are still under contract for the restaurant space. She said she has been talking to some “great people” who have good ideas for the future restaurant, but has not yet settled on a partner. The new restaurant will be at 825 San Pablo Ave. (between Solano and Washington avenues), Albany.
IPPUDO SET TO OPEN IN JANUARY The acclaimed international ramen shop is set to open its first West Coast location in early January in downtown Berkeley. Ippudo plans to hold a soft opening Jan. 2, according to Eater. Originating in Japan, Ippudo has restaurants across Asia and Australia, as well one in London and two in Manhattan. It was founded in 1985 by Shigemi Kawahara with, according to its website, an emphasis on Tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen and a wood-centric interior design. It will open in the former Biryani House location in the ground floor of the WeWork building, next to the brand new Blue Bottle Coffee. Ippudo will be at 2011 Shattuck Ave. (at University Avenue), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
THE GOLDEN SQUIRREL HAS REPLACED BARCLAY’S This summer, the Rockridge institution Barclay’s Pub closed after 25 years in operation. The closure happened because, according to the East Bay Express, the bar’s landlord was unwilling to negotiate a new long-term lease. Its replacement, a new American restaurant and pub called The Golden Squirrel, has now opened for lunch. Brunch and dinner hours will be added soon. On the menu is mainly pub-style comfort food such as burgers, fried chicken, fried pickles and mac and cheese, with a local, Californian twist. Seasonal ingredients make an appearance in salads and veggie-heavy side dishes, and there are plenty of vegetarian entree options. A solid list of local beer and wines are available, as well as several house cocktails. The Golden Squirrel is at 5940 College Ave. (at Harwood Avenue), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
ESCAPE LOUNGE NOW OPEN AT OAK Over at the Oakland airport, Chris Pastena’s Escape Lounge officially opened Nov. 14. The lounge is a partnership with Manchester Airport Group USA and it costs $40 to get in. However, for that fee, you’ll get unlimited food, drinks, WiFi, newspapers and magazines. Pastena has designed the menu, which spans breakfast to dinner, with an all-day buffet for snacking. Many of the ingredients are local and/or organic, such as Straus yogurt, Baia pasta and Firebrand pastries. Other notable menu items include ricotta pancakes, fig toast with goat cheese and honey, and the Escape Burger with bacon, cheese and mayo. Learn more about The Escape Lounge Oakland here.
LIMA RESTAURANT ALSO OPEN IN CONCORD In September, we brought you news of a new Peruvian restaurant, Lima, opening in Concord. The restaurant is now open. It’s a project of Lima, Peru native John Marquez, who also owns Artisan Bistro in Lafayette and has worked for the likes of Gastón Acurio (Cevicheria La Mar and Panchita Sazon Criolla in Lima), Daniel Patterson (at Elisabeth Daniel and Coi) and Thomas Keller (The French Laundry and Per Se). While Marquez intended to open the restaurant in early October, there were several delays. On the tapas-style menu are Peruvian dishes like ceviche, aji de gallina (chicken and walnut stew with aji chiles), lomo saltado (sautéed beef with vegetables and French fries) and arroz con pato (duck leg confit with rice). Local wines and craft beers, plus a couple of Peruvian beers, are on offer, but Lima will eventually have a full bar. Lima is at 2151 Salvio St. (between Mt. Diablo and Grant streets), Concord. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
TIDBITS: WE SUSHI, OZUMO At last, We Sushi has opened in Emeryville’s Public Market, following the recent openings of Mayo & Mustard and Oui Oui Macaron. The E’ville Eye had the scoop, also reporting that some of the market’s oldest tenants — Bay Burger, Pamir Afghan and Sorabol — will close over the coming weeks. We Sushi, which got its start as a food truck, offers sushi rolls, bento boxes and sushi burritos on its menu. In other raw fish news, Oakland’s Ozumo, which had been serving sushi in Uptown for nine years, will close Nov. 20. Owner Jeremy Umland told Inside Scoop that “a perfect storm of financial pressures made up of escalating occupancy costs, rising costs of labor, and healthcare mandates, made it difficult for the Ozumo to remain profitable.” Its San Francisco location remains open. We Sushi is in Public Market Emeryville is at 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.
Dinners and events
FIRKIN FEST AT TRIPLE ROCK This Saturday, Berkeley’s Triple Rock will host its 14th annual Firkin Fest, which celebrates the Bay Area’s “finest, freshest and strangest cask-conditioned ales.” (The name Firkin refers to the size of the vessel used for cask-conditioning.) Sixteen local breweries will compete for the prize of Best Firkin, which will be chosen by the drinking public, and carries with it the “world’s ugliest trophy plus a years worth of bragging rights.” Participating breweries include Alameda Island, Ale Industries, Drake’s, Faction, Gilman, Novel, Temescal and many more. The $30 ticket includes tastes of all competing beers, voting tokens and a signature glass. Children are welcome. Tickets are available here. Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse is at 1920 Shattuck Ave. (at Hearst Street), Berkeley. Connect with the brewery on Facebook and Twitter.
VIETNAMESE OMAKASE WITH TU DAVID PHU The former executive chef at Gather has been hosting pop-up events in San Francisco over the last few months, and is now returning to the East Bay. Tu David Phu will be hosting three of what he calls his “Vietnamese omakase” dinners starting Sunday at The Golden Stateroom (4031 Broadway) in Oakland. (Subsequent dinners will take place Dec. 11 and 18.) The six-course prix fixe meals ($45) draw inspiration from his family’s home island of Phu Quoc, the “fish sauce capital” of Vietnam. Phu will also collaborate with Sophina Uong, formerly of Calavera, on a seven course beef dinner Nov. 27, also at The Golden Stateroom. At this $60 dinner, the two chefs will be featuring grass-fed beef sourced through Holistic Ag. This particular beef is, Phu said, well-suited to Southeast Asian cooking techniques and flavors. More information and tickets are available here.
What else is going on…
FARM LEAGUE TO UPDATE BLACKWATER STATION Changes are afoot at Temescal’s Blackwater Station. Owner Jonathan Moon has brought on the Farm League restaurant management group to “update” its concept. At this point, we know that it’ll be upping its emphasis on coffee beverages, including cold brew on draft and coffee-based cocktails. Farm League co-owner Adam Stemmler told Nosh the group would be doing “minimal rebranding” and his partner, Joel DiGiorgio, added that the goal is for Blackwater Station to become “the neighborhood establishment Temescal seems poised for.” We’ll keep you posted as we learn more about the changes. Blackwater Station is at 4901 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th Street), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook.
GOOD FOOD AWARD FINALISTS IN THE EAST BAY This week, finalists for the 2017 Good Food Awards were announced, and East Bay food businesses have landed six nods. Berkeley’s Fra’ Mani and The Local Butcher Shop, as well as Oakland’s Clove & Hoof were all recognized for charcuterie products (salame gentile, pork liver mousse and bologna, respectively). Richmond’s Far West Cider is a finalist for its Orchard Blend #1, Pink Cascade and San Joaquin Sparkler ciders. Oakland’s Mr. Espresso has gotten a nod for its Ethiopia FTO Worka Natural coffee, and Wooden Spoons has been recognized for its salmon rillettes. The winners will be announced at the Good Food Awards ceremony on Jan. 20, 2017. You can find the full list of finalists here. (Full disclosure: Nosh editor Kate Williams was a judge in the oils category this year.)