SLIVER SAYS GOODBYE TO CENTER ST. On Dec. 23, Sliver Pizzeria in downtown Berkeley announced via Facebook and Instagram that it was moving locations. The post explained that the five-year-old pizza restaurant was relocating to a new, yet-to-be-determined location “due to unforeseen circumstances.” The restaurant had its last day at 2132 Center St. — serving potato pizza — on Dec. 29, and on Jan. 1, posted photos of clearing out the space. Sadly, many Sliver fans were away for the holidays and missed the opportunity to get one last sliver before the restaurant shuttered. We’ll have more updates on what prompted the move and where Sliver will reopen as soon as we get the details.
[Updated Jan. 17] TRIESTE NO LONGER Last summer, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the legendary Caffè Trieste was at the center of a family feud. The Giotta family, which owns the company and brand behind the café, has been embroiled in a familial struggle for years, but after patriarch and founder Giovanni Giotta died in 2016, his son Fabio sued the share-holding relatives, demanding that the company and brand be dissolved. The fate of Trieste as we know it was uncertain — including for its three satellite locations in Berkeley, Oakland and Monterey — but in recent days, some answers have been reached for the East Bay coffee houses in question.
The two East Bay locations have always been under ownership by 4 Musketeers, S.P. LLC, since they opened the Caffè Trieste in Berkeley back in 2004. One of the Musketeers is Hal Brandel, who also owns Bar Cesar; he was the one who convinced “Papa Gianni” (once a Musketeer, too) to open Trieste on San Pablo. The East Bay locations have now severed ties with the Giotta family and have changed the names to Caffe on San Pablo (2500 San Pablo Ave.) and Caffe on Piedmont (4045 Piedmont Ave.). When we called Caffe on Piedmont Avenue, we spoke with an employee who confirmed that the family dispute was the reason for the name change and that nothing else with either café has changed. On Jan. 17, we received an email from Eric Wright, director of the cafés, who wrote, “Our license agreement ended with Caffè Trieste Inc. We were unable to get a new one in place…. We’ll have a new name soon, but for now we’ll just be operating as Caffe on Piedmont and Caffe on San Pablo.” So if you’re an East Bay Trieste fan, you can breathe easy that, aside from the new moniker, they’re pretty much the same.
STICKY FINGERS On Dec. 22, Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon opened in downtown Berkeley. Located on Berkeley Way, a block north of University Avenue, Bonchon is a bit hidden from sight, so we were somewhat surprised that the place had a good number of diners and people dropping in for take-out when we visited for lunch earlier this week.
The main attraction here is made-to-order, crispy, sweet and — if you want — spicy KFC, which is offered in wing, strip or drumstick format, and is served with a side of pickled radish or coleslaw, as well as with the requisite moist towelette. Also on the menu are starters like potstickers, Korean tacos and pork buns; main dishes like bibimbap, chicken katsu and tteokbokki (fried rice cakes); salads and more. The lunch menu (available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Friday) offers dishes in smaller portions and a few afternoon-only specials, like a Bonchon Wrap ($8.95) and House Fried Rice ($8.95). Bonchon, 2050 Berkeley Way (at Shattuck), Berkeley
B-DAMA TO OPEN IN ALAMEDA The East Bay lost a great sushi restaurant with the closure of Yume in Alameda. The tiny, family-owned restaurant on Park Street had a reputation for offering some of the freshest and best omakase sushi on this side of the bay, if not the Bay Area at large. So many locals were saddened that it closed last fall after a death in the family. Those fans may take solace that another respected Japanese restaurant is taking its spot and carrying the torch. A public notice put up last week announced that a new restaurant from the owner of B-Dama and Delage will open in its place. Owner-chef Chikara Ono told Nosh that while details and menu are still pending, he will offer sushi and Kaiseki-style cuisine in the eight-seat counter-style restaurant. For those who are already familiar with B-Dama’s izakaya and Delage’s modern omakase offerings in Old Oakland, Ono says to expect “more authentic Japanese-style” food. He hopes to open the restaurant in March. We’ll keep you updated on Nosh with more details as they develop. B-Dama will be at 1428 Park St. (at Alameda), Alameda
THIRD-WAVE THAI Last year saw the openings of several modern, but casual Thai/Lao eateries, like Chick’n Rice in Berkeley and Pintoh, Saap Avenue and Hawking Bird in Oakland. Well, a new Thai eatery, just down the road from Hawking Bird, is about to join the flock. Earlier this week, Bird and Buffalo took to Instagram to announce that it is opening on Jan. 8. We had first reported about the restaurant taking over the Rosamunde spot last November, when little details were available. Now, we know that it will be a “Thai soul food” restaurant, offering curries, grilled meats, papaya salad, larb and starters like fried pig ears, Lao sausages and spring rolls. Bird and Buffalo will be open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday. Bird and Buffalo, 4659 Telegraph Ave. (at 46th), Oakland
PIQ, ABBREVIATED Pane Italiano Qualita, aka PIQ, closed its doors for remodeling a few days before Christmas. The café/bakery is currently undergoing updates. In the meantime, it opened a mini version of itself on Jan. 2 as construction continues in the main building. The pocket-sized PIQ has a robust selection of its baked goods and coffee drinks until the renovations are complete. Although there’s no space for tables inside, there’s plenty of outdoor seating. PIQ hopes to officially reopen its updated space in two or three weeks. Stay tuned on Nosh for more updates. PIQ, 91 Shattuck Ave. (at Addison Street), Berkeley.
LITTLE ITALY, ELMWOOD Earlier this week, San Francisco’s Italian Homemade Company opened its third location — its first outside of San Francisco — in Berkeley’s Elmwood district. It softly opened on New Year’s Day, with its official opening on Jan. 2; it celebrated with free TrePalle gelato for guests on both days. The Italian restaurant-grocery store takes the place of shuttered AG Ferrari, which also offered Italian deli foods. Italian Homemade Company offers both dine-in and take-out cuisine, as well as groceries. Expect fare like flat bread sandwiches, salads, pasta, desserts, cheese, cured meats and more. With the opening of Italian Homemade, there are now a total of three Italian eateries (also Donato & Co., Trattoria La Siciliana*) within a two-block radius, and another Italian spot on the way, with a new take-out place coming from La Siciliana owners soon — making the area of Elmwood a “Little Italy” of sorts. *We originally included Cugini Manzone on this list, but the restaurant is now closed. The Italian Homemade Company, 2905 College Ave. (at Russell), Berkeley.
LA BOULANGERIE, CHOW: NOW HIRING Quick news on two more San Francisco chains that are about to open in Oakland. Both La Boulangerie and Chow have put up “now hiring” signs to prepare for their imminent openings. The former is in Rockridge, in what once was Pasta Pomodoro. La Boulangerie Oakland will be the company’s first foray back into the East Bay since Starbucks shuttered all 23 La Boulange locations in 2015, three years after acquiring the company from owner Pascal Rigo in 2012. Rigo retook the company in 2016, and has been reopening many of the shuttered locations and opening new ones, too.
Chow has two long-time restaurants in San Francisco and another in Danville that serve high-quality, but approachable comfort food at reasonable prices, but its new Oakland business on Piedmont Avenue will be more similar to its location in Lafayette, which along with a sit-down restaurant, is also a market and bakery. The market will carry organic produce, dairy, meat, seafood and other groceries. The bakery will sell pastries, as well as ready-to-bake pie dough and cookie dough. Chow Oakland has been more than four years in the making, but is finally at the finish line, starting to hire staff for all positions at this new location. La Boulangerie will be at 5500 College (at Lawton), Oakland; Chow Oakland will be at 3770 Piedmont Ave. (near West MacArthur), Oakland.
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