GADANI EGG PUFF WAFFLES Last month we noticed a new “handcrafted waffle” spot was opening in downtown Berkeley but didn’t have any details of what exactly it was going to be. Well, we now know: Gadani opened about two weeks ago and is a café that serves Hong Kong-style egg puff waffles. We stopped in on a recent morning to get a taste. Since it was a bit too early in the a.m. for ice cream, we opted for the Gadani Classic, a plain egg puff waffle. The waffle was light and crispy on the outside with a slightly chewy interior — pleasantly sweet and eggy to the taste. Gadani serves variations on the classic, including the following flavors: chocolate, double chocolate (chocolate waffle with chocolate chips), matcha, matcha red bean, espresso and a combo of waffle, ice cream (made locally by Tara’s) and toppings like caramel and Oreo cookie crumbs. Gadani’s beverage menu includes standard coffee drinks, as well as matcha, lavender and rose lattes. Gadani is at 139 Berkeley Square (at Shattuck), Berkeley.
DRAKE’S V. ALVARADO STREET Next Monday, two Northern California breweries face off for a fun beer-pairing dinner competition. East Bay’s Drake’s Brewing Co. will face off with Monterey’s Alvarado Street Brewery to see who can best pair four of their beers with a 5-course, prix-fixe meal, created by Drake’s chef Taylor Smith. Diners will determine the winner here. Tickets are available on Eventbrite for $89 (plus service fee) and include the five-course beer paired dinner (tip is included in cost) and an open discussion session with brewers John Gillooly and J.C. Hill. The Brewer v. Brewer showdown takes place at 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, at Drake’s Dealership, 2325 Broadway (at 23rd St.), Oakland.
BELOTTI TO OPEN ON PIEDMONT AVENUE We noticed large sheets of butcher paper in the windows of the recently shuttered Grégoire on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Written in Italian were the words: “Signore e signori, Il Belotti sta arrivando. Specialita tipiche del nord d’italia e oltre pasta fresca tutti i giorni. Agnolotti, tagliatelle, bigoli, casoncelli, lasagne, etc… Decidi tu li mangi qui li cucina a casa… da solo o con la famiglia.” (“Ladies and gentlemen, Il Belotti is coming. Specialties typical of Northern Italy and daily fresh pasta. You decide to eat them here or cook them at home … alone or with the family.”) We were able to confirm with Grégoire owner, Grégoire Jacquet, that the Belottis in question are Michele and Joyce Belotti, co-owners of Belotti Ristorante e Bottega in nearby Rockridge, but we were unable to reach the Belottis at time of publication for comment. According to a recent posting on Belotti’s Instagram account, the couple is currently visiting family in Italy until Aug. 16, but wrote they have “exciting updates to come” upon their return. We have a strong feeling that this second location on Piedmont is just that! And, if this spot is anything like Belotti Ristorante, which serves some of the best pasta in the East Bay, this is indeed very exciting news. Stay tuned on Nosh for more updates! This second Belotti location will be at 4001 Piedmont Ave. (at 40th), Oakland.
4505 BURGERS & BBQ AT LAUREL STREET FAIR ICYMI, last October we reported that Ryan Farr will be opening a second location of 4505 Burgers & BBQ in Oakland in the former Glenn’s Hot Dogs location on MacArthur Boulevard in the Laurel District. The opening date of the Laurel restaurant is still TBD, but neighborhood folks can get a sample of what’s to come this weekend at the Laurel Street Fair, where 4505 will be on hand roasting two whole hogs from Oakland’s Cream Co. Meats on their custom-built BBQ trailer. Fair-goers can order pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw, pickles and BBQ sauce, as well as spicy fries with two different sauces, 4505’s famous chicharrones and lime-mint iced tea to wash it all down. 4505 Burgers & BBQ will be at the Laurel Street Fair on Saturday, Aug. 12. The fair takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on MacArthur Blvd. (between 35th and 38th), Oakland.
ROOFTOP GARDEN SMØRREBRØD Kristen Rasmussen de Vasquez of Rooted Food is bringing a little hygge (Nordic comfort) to the rooftop garden of Top Leaf Farms in Berkeley. At this special pop-up event, there’ll be two takes on Rasmussen de Vasquez’s California-style smørrebrød (Danish open-faced sandwiches on rye bread), highlighting fresh produce from Top Leaf Farms; a Scandinavian summer dessert and garden herb sun tea. Guests can BYO beverage, should they want something other than tea. The lunch will be served on wooden plateware by local artist Steve Thompson of Euclidean Building that guests can take home after the event. There’ll be additional wares by artist Sarah Koik of Koik ceramics for purchase. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased on Rooted Food’s website. A portion of proceeds from the event will benefit Top Leaf Farms. The Rooftop garden smørrebrød event takes place at 1 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13, at Top Leaf Farms, 2201 Dwight Way (at Fulton), Berkeley.
THISTLE MEATS IN OAKLAND While we’re on the topic of meat… fans of Petaluma butcher shop Thistle Meats will be happy to hear they won’t have to travel far to get its humanely-raised and locally sourced meats. Thistle has partnered with Hopscotch for its new Oakland pick-up program. Customers can order from a menu featuring fresh cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken and speciality meats, charcuterie and sausages, butter, eggs and more. So why Oakland, and why Hopscotch, in particular? Thistle Meats owner, Travis Day was once a sous chef at the Oakland restaurant and still remains good friends with Kyle Itani, owner and executive chef at both Hopscotch and Itani Ramen. Thistle Meats Oakland pick-up program at Hopscotch (1915 San Pablo Ave., Oakland) is available Fridays and Saturdays during business hours. To order call 707-772.5442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Thursdays.
NICO’S GOING THROUGH CHANGES Earlier this week, we got word that Nico’s Hideaway in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto is undergoing a big transformation. First, it’s dropped the clandestine part of its name and will now go by its shortened moniker, Nico’s. But more importantly for diners, it’s brought on a new management and consulting team to elevate and focus its offerings. Starting Wednesday, Aug. 9, new managing partner and executive chef Munther Massarweh (who owns Wildfox in Novato, formerly owned Bourbon Beef in Oakland and has consulted for Urbano Latino) is leading the team with a goal to solidify Nico’s identity. Since it opened in December 2015, the restaurant has served a mostly Italian-American menu with a smattering of American and pan-continental comfort food dishes. The new menu scraps the Italian-American fare altogether and hones in on locally-sourced, farm-to-table offerings. Expect dishes like a house paté, brick-roasted chicken and a selection of steak cuts. Another change — there’s no more breakfast service. Nico’s is now open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Stay tuned for more details on Nosh. Nico’s is at 1508 Walnut St., Suite B (at Vine), Berkeley.
CROSTA PANINI BAR IS CLOSED Just about five months after its March 1 opening, Crosta Panini Bar in Berkeley has closed. Located within Highwire Coffee on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley, this café within a café was unable to find its footing and has decided to call it quits. Ariel Platt, operations manager at Crosta, confirmed the closure via email. “We hope to open in the future but do not have immediate plans to do so,” he said. Platt also said that the space already has a new tenant — Crosta chef, Sincere Justice, will be launching his own eatery in the new few weeks. We’ll update you on Nosh as we get more info.
PROJECT JUICE COMES TO FOURTH STREET Bay Area-based Project Juice is opening its first East Bay location on Fourth Street in Berkeley. As its name suggests, you’ll find juice here — fresh, cold-pressed and organic, but Project Juice, which calls itself a “clean food” company, features a menu of plant-based beverages and eats catered to people with the most common food allergies and sensitivities — meaning, all offerings are free of gluten, dairy, peanuts and soy. The 680-square-foot storefront in Berkeley will offer juices, almond and cashew “mylks,” smoothies, wellness elixirs, coffee, tea and kombucha, as well bowls, salads, soups, gluten-free toasts and pastries. Project Juice is hosting its grand opening party from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, featuring food and beverage samples and freebies (while supplies last). All the proceeds from the party benefit Berkeley Public Schools Fund. Project Juice will be at 1911 Fourth St. (near Hearst), Berkeley.
PAULISTA FUNDRAISER Back in February, Nosh wrote about Paulista, a Brazilian restaurant and craft beer bar that’s heading to Glenview in Oakland, taking the place of the former Rumbo al Sur. According to Paulista’s website, owners Jesse Madway and Alex Yamamoto are in the homestretch of completing buildout of the restaurant. Up until this point, they’ve funded their project on their own, with some loans from family. They’ve applied for an SBA loan, but have not yet been approved. Now, the duo finds itself running out of funds for their slated September opening and are hoping the community will step in to help them raise $50k to open the restaurant and taproom. Instead of using Kickstarter or other fundraising platforms, the duo has chosen to run their own campaign, donating 10% of earnings to a local school of the donor’s choice. If all goes well with this final push, Paulista Brazilian Kitchen and Taproom will be at 4239 Park Ave. (at Wellington), Oakland.
PLANT EXCHANGE COOKBOOK SALE The Plant Exchange, an Oakland nonprofit that redistributes and shares plants, is hosting a cookbook sale on Saturday. The books were all donated by a private collector, and include both new and vintage (from 1930s to ’60s) selections and cover a range of cuisines and dietary concerns. The books will be sold at 50-60% off retail price. And, since it is the Plant Exchange, there’ll also be plants for sale, too. All proceeds from sales will benefit the Plant Exchange. The Plant Exchange cookbook (and plant) sale takes from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Ability Now Bay Area at 4500 Lincoln Ave., Oakland.