Vegan chain Veggie Grill is opening soon in Berkeley. Photo: Veggie Grill

VEGGING OUT The Berkeley location of fast-casual vegan chain Veggie Grill is opening soon. General manager Ivan Limosnero told Nosh that the restaurant plans to celebrate its grand opening on Sept. 14, with soft opening dates on Sept 12 and 13. Veggie Grill is popular with vegans for its accessible menu of sandwiches, salads, bowls and other comfort foods that are entirely free of animal products and which use GMO-free plant-based proteins from Hodo, Beyond Meat and Gardein Chickin’. The Berkeley branch will be the second East Bay location for the chain, joining another in Walnut Creek. It will also be adding to a growing number of vegan bastions in downtown Berkeley, which includes The Butcher’s Son, Animal Place’s Vegan Republic, Cinnaholic and Saturn Café. Veggie Grill, 48 Shattuck Sq. (at University), Berkeley

HELLO, HELOU We got word of an upcoming author event with the following instructions: “Pick up your phone and dial Chez Panisse right now for a reservation on Oct. 25… If you are lucky enough to be in the neighborhood (and don’t need to mortgage the house) GO!” So just what is happening on Oct. 25? Celebrated chef and cookbook author Anissa Helou will be at the restaurant to promote her latest cookbook, Feast: Food of the Islamic World. Helou, who grew up in Beirut to a Syrian father and Lebanese mother, is an expert in Arab food, and Feast, her ninth book, has been garnering praise since its release in May. This tome of more than 300 recipes documents how traditions, religion and culture come together at the table in various Islamic kitchens in the Middle East, but also in China, Indonesia, India, Senegal, Tanzania and beyond.

Although Helou’s book takes diners around the world, a lot of the recipes were tested right here in the East Bay. Chez Panisse chef Amy Dencler is a good friend of hers, and over the years has done a lot of recipe testing for her cookbooks, including Feast. On Oct. 25, Helou and Dencler will prepare a special dinner inspired by the book. The dinner is $160 per person (excluding wine, service and tax) and comes with a signed copy of FeastChez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck Ave. (between Vine and Cedar), Berkeley  

After a year in business, Rockridge’s Ding Japanese Restaurant closed. A new Vietnamese restaurant will open in its place. Photo: Sarah Han

DING CLOSED Over the weekend, we noticed that signs for Ding in Rockridge have been taken down and that the Japanese restaurant is now closed. Ding opened in March 2017 at 6200 Claremont Ave., taking over the space after the Claremont Diner shuttered in November 2016. Currently, there’s a sign on the door explaining that the restaurant is closed for repairs and will reopen in a week. Other signs on the windows advertise that the restaurant is looking to hire servers. We called the number on the sign and were told that a Vietnamese restaurant would be opening in the space this month, but that a name is still TBD.

SOMETHING TO STOUT ABOUT Ocean View Brew Works in Albany has started a sweet partnership, inviting small batch Oakland Gelato Company to the beer garden on weekends. Ocean View co-founder Vonnie Davidson told Nosh the brewery-taproom recently confirmed a regular Sunday stint for the Oakland Gelato to be on hand for stout and rootbeer floats. From 2-6 p.m. Sept. 16 Ocean View is hosting a Stout Float Gelato release party to make the partnership official. Peter & Lisa Duo will provide the tunes for the day. Ocean View Brew Works, 627 San Pablo Ave. (at Castro), Albany

ALLEY GRAPES A new wine tasting room is opening soon at Temescal Alley in what was most recently the retail location for Pain Bakery. Prima Materia Winery offers Old World-style California wines grown at a 12-acre vineyard in Lake County. Run by winemaker Pietro Buttitta, Prima Materia focuses on wines made with less common or overlooked grapes, such as Aglianico, Sagrantino, Cabernet Franc and Refosco, which are sustainably grown, hand harvested and produced into small batches of wine, which are then hand bottled.

Buttitta told Nosh that the tasting room will “feel more like a small wine bar and offer wines by the glass.” The winemaker is also a chef, and has been hosting multi-course wine pairing dinners via Feastly. The new space has a kitchen, so he plans to offer a menu of bites, as well as private supper club dinners for up to 20 people, once or twice monthly. Seating will be limited inside, so there will also be outdoor tables.

For now, Buttitta is waiting to get his alcohol license approved by the city of Oakland. He had hoped to open the tasting room in August, but it’s likely he won’t start serving wine until January. He said he might open with a small food concept, sans wine, in the near future. “I am starting harvest now which will eat up the next six weeks,” Buttitta said, “but am hoping to get a private dinner menu together based on Ancient Roman cuisine at the end of October.” He said to “expect something casual but interesting that matches the Prima Materia interest in historical food and wine culture.” Prima Materia Winery and Pop-up Kitchen, 482 #B 49th St. (near Telegraph), Oakland

CREEKWOOD UPDATE Every few months, we’ve been checking on Creekwood, the restaurant in South Berkeley’s Lorin District that’s been in the works since 2013. Creekwood comes from childhood friends and business partners, Greg Poulios and Mark Louie who were looking to open a neighborhood California-Italian restaurant in Berkeley. They plan to serve pizza, pasta and other entrees, with beer and wine on tap. It’s taken five years and many setbacks, but it looks like the restaurant is finally approaching the finish line. Poulios told Nosh that they are currently projected to open on Oct. 3. When Creekwood opens, it’ll initially be open for dinner (5-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) for the first three or four weeks. Then, it’ll start its weekend brunch, and finally, will roll out a weekday breakfast and lunch menu as well. Creekwood will be at 3121 Sacramento St. (at Woolsey Street), Berkeley

BEAUTY’S UPDATE We also just checked in with Amy Remsen, co-owner of Beauty’s Bagel Shop, about the opening date of Beauty’s second outpost at 1700 Franklin St. in Downtown Oakland. Although she didn’t have an exact date to share just yet, Remsen said, “we’re hoping for the first week in October.” Right now, she and her husband-business partner Blake Joffe are waiting for the final building inspection, and the health and fire inspections before they can open. In the meantime, visit Beauty’s in Temescal at 3838 Telegraph Ave. and keep reading to find out about what the shop is offering for Rosh Hashanah.

Challah for Rosh Hashanah is available for pre-order at Nabolom Bakery in Berkeley. Photo: Nabolom Bakery

A SWEET YEAR Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, is upon us! The first of the High Holy Days starts Sunday and ends on Tuesday. This is a time to eat honey cakes (for a year filled with sweetness) and round-shaped challah (to reflect the continuing cycle of the seasons). We checked in with a few East Bay spots to find out what goodies they’ll be offering this year:

While we had Amy Remsen on the horn, we asked her what Beauty’s Bagels would have for Rosh Hashanah. She said the shop will be offering individually portioned, muffin-sized honey cakes from Friday, Sept 7 to Sunday, Sept 9. For large orders, Remsen suggests ordering in advance. Beauty’s Bagel Shop, 3838 Telegraph Ave. (between 38th and 40th), Oakland

Market Hall in Rockridge and on Fourth Street in Berkeley offers an expansive High Holy Day menu, including breads and sweets like honey apple bundt cake with walnuts, round challah (with or without raisins) and honey spice cookies. Foods are available for pre-order at least two days in advance. Market Hall, 5655 College Ave., Oakland; 1786 Fourth St., Berkeley

Acme Bread‘s shop in Berkeley will offer turban-shaped challah (plain or with raisin) starting this Friday through next Tuesdays. Pre-orders are recommended. The only catch — they do not take phone orders; you must visit the shop two days in advance to place your order. Acme Bread, 1601 San Pablo Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley  

Arizmendi in Emeryville will be offering apple honey cake by the slice on Saturday and as whole cakes on Sunday, and round challah (plain and raisin), Friday to Sunday. Both will be offered first-come-first-served in the store, or by pre-order. Arizmendi-Emeryville, 4301 San Pablo Ave. (at 43rd), Emeryville 

A gluten-free honey cake from Mariposa Baking Company in Oakland. Photo: Mariposa Baking

Mariposa Baking in Oakland makes gluten-free honey cakes and turban-shaped challah, with or without raisins. Mariposa Baking, 5427 Telegraph Ave. (near 55th), Oakland

Cheese Board will offer round challahs stuffed with dried fruit for Rosh Hashanah. Pre-orders must be made a day or two in advance for pick-up noon to 2 p.m., Sunday; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday. The Cheese Board, 1504 Shattuck Ave. (near Vine), Berkeley

Nabolom in Berkeley is currently taking orders for its round challah. The breads are in various sizes (starting at 1 lb), and offered plain, with salt and pepper, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and even rainbow sprinkles. Advance orders can be picked-up at the bakery this Saturday and Sunday. Nabolom, 2708 Russell St. (near College), Berkeley

And finally, Oakland’s Grand Bakery is wholesale only these days, but you can find its challah and other goods in several stores around the Bay Area. Or, you can order round challah and honey cakes for Yom Kippur from the bakery directly online.

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Sarah Han was the editor of Nosh from 2017 to 2021. Previously, she worked as an editor at The Bold Italic, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. In 2020, Sarah won SPJ NorCal's...