ALMARE TURNS 10 Downtown Berkeley gelato shop Almare is turning 10 this year. Almare prides itself on being a real-deal Italian gelateria; it was opened by Treviso native Alberto Malvestio, who learned how to make the Italian-style ice cream from his great uncle Dino. Four years later, Simone Arpaio, who hails from Turin, joined the business as co-owner. Almare makes its gelato fresh every morning at 6 a.m., offering traditional Italian flavors like stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate shavings), amaretto and gianduja (chocolate and hazelnuts imported from Piedmont, Italy). The shop also serves sorbet, espresso, and when the weather gets chilly, cioccolata calda (Italian hot chocolate). To celebrate its decade in business, Almare is throwing a party on Friday, Nov. 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., featuring free scoops of gelato and 50-cent espressos. Almare Gelato, 2170 Shattuck Ave. (between Allston and Center), Berkeley
PIZZA ON THE GO Another taste of Italy in downtown Berkeley, Lucia’s, has some news to share. Co-owners Alessandro Uccelli and Steve Dumain, have a cool new ride that will bring the restaurant’s Neapolitan pizzas to the Oakland Grand Lake farmers market on Saturdays and to Fieldwork Brewery in Berkeley this winter. The sweet three-wheeled truck was built from a vintage Italian 1981 Ape Piaggo (based on the Vespa scooter, it’s Piaggo’s light-commercial three-wheeled vehicle, often used in Italy as a delivery mobile because of its size and good gas mileage). Uccelli and Dumain souped up the Ape and added a handmade brick wood-fired oven that heats up to 900°F that sits atop the truck’s bed. Dumain told Nosh the truck will make its debut, offering 10″ pies at the farmers market on Nov. 24, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options and, in the mornings, breakfast pizzas. They hope to be at Fieldwork by December. The truck is available for private parties and events around the Bay Area.
NEW CHEF IN TOWN The 1100 Group, the restaurant group that runs Cantina del Sol (as well as Little Star and The Star), just brought on a new co-owner and executive chef to the Albany Mexican-American comfort food restaurant. Armando Navarro, who was previously at El Dorado Kitchen (Sonoma), Larkspur (Vail, Colorado), Jardiniere and Masa’s (San Francisco), will take the helm from former chef Luis Rodriguez. Navarro has been tasked with tightening up the offerings at the Cantina. A few new items you’ll find on the menu include house made tortillas, panko-crusted avocado tacos, ahi tuna tostada, and chipotle chicken tostada. Cantina del Sol, 1175 Solano Ave. (at Stannage), Albany
LAST DAYS Oakland’s Camino has announced its final days in business, and, as we predicted, the restaurant intends to go out with a bang. Co-owners Allison Hopelain and Russell Moore said Camino’s last regular day of service will be Dec. 17, but they will host two last parties before closing their 10-year-old Grand Avenue restaurant forever (after which it will become a new outpost for Zachary’s Pizza). The first “Fancy Dinner Party” takes place on Dec. 20, from 6-9 p.m., and will feature cocktails and passed snacks followed by multi-course sit-down dinner prepared by Moore in the fireplace. Although the $200 tickets are already sold out, interested diners can sign up on the waitlist, in case of cancellations. Fortunately, there’s one final opportunity to say goodbye that’s open to everyone who RSVPs. On Dec. 22, starting at 6 p.m., Camino will host a cocktail party. Guests will pay for drinks, but there’ll be free snacks and live music by The Fishwives. RSVPs required for the party. Camino, 3917 Grand Ave. (between Jean and Sunny Slope), Oakland
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS As Nosh reported last month, Cybelle’s Pizza on Piedmont Avenue closed on Oct. 31 after 37 years in business. We just got word of the new business that plans to take over the space: Mägo. Two years ago, chef Mark Liberman (former owner of San Francisco’s AQ) knew he wanted to open a restaurant in Oakland, but he didn’t have a space for it. While he searched for the perfect spot, he’s been hosting pop-up events across the Bay Area to introduce diners to the type of cuisine he plans to serve at Mägo, what Liberman calls “contemporary West Coast cuisine.” When Liberman learned about the Cybelle’s space he knew it was just right for him.
Liberman’s plans for Mägo are ambitious, fitting for its name, which means “magician” in Spanish. If he can pull it off, the chef hopes to offer a weekly changing menu “focusing on 52 micro-seasons that only exist” in Northern California, using organic ingredients sourced from local purveyors and some even grown in a raised garden bed on the restaurant’s patio. The open kitchen will be the focal point of Mägo, featuring a wood-burning hearth where many of its dishes will be cooked. But unlike most farm-to-table restaurants of this sort, Liberman wants to ensure Mägo is a fit for the community (he and his family live in Oakland, and he has staunchly insisted on opening the restaurant in the city), offering food at a reasonable price in a space that’s modern, but casual and comfortable. He also plans to host culinary training for youth, as well as offer complimentary meals once a month to local high school kids.
Of course, all these ideas take money, and although Liberman signed the lease for the space and has enough funds to cover the cost of opening its doors, he says he needs $25,000 to make the Mägo of his dreams. He’s currently crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The campaign will be live until December, and if all goes well, the restaurant may open as soon as winter 2019. Mägo will be at 3762 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st), Oakland
ZAPATISTA CAFÉ A new café hopes to join 12 other collectives at the Omni Commons, a community center/venue at 4799 Shattuck Ave. in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. Caracol Café identifies as a person-of-color-run collective which plans to open a non-profit café serving coffee from the Zapatistas communities in Chiapas, Mexico. Along with coffee, Caracol hopes to serve food and host programs and workshops for youth, women and people of color. For now, the collective is fundraising via an Indiegogo campaign, with the goal of raising $35,000. If they can raise the funds, Caracol Café hopes to open in the next four to six months.
GOOD NITE! The third annual Saucy Awards, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s awards ceremony celebrating excellence in the Bay Area restaurant industry, took place on Nov. 12, and amongst its winner was Nite Yun, chef and owner of Nyum Bai, the celebrated Cambodian restaurant in the Fruitvale. Yun won in the category of Rising Star Chef of the Year, and was the lone solely East Bay-based restaurant to take home an award. There were a few winners that have (or will have) an East Bay presence, including Elisabeth Prueitt of Tartine Manufactory, who won Pastry Chef of the Year; Adriano Paganini of Super Duper Burgers, The Bird and many other restaurants, who won Restaurateur of the Year; and 4505 Burgers and BBQ, which won an award for Community Spirit of the Year. Congrats to all the winners.
A SWEET STORY We got word from Nosh reader V. Chan that Sweet Booth in Oakland’s Chinatown turned 25 this year. The longtime counter service boba and ice cream shop was opened by Calvin Tong at the Pacific Renaissance Plaza in 1993 (Tong opened another location in Alameda in 2007, but it closed). Sweet Booth has a real mom-and-pop shop feel, with old-school fast food table seating, a menu written in both Chinese and English above the counter, and best of all, drinks with fresh fruits and real tea, something which can’t be said of all the boba shops in town. Chan, a longtime Sweet Booth customer, recommends the mango milkshake (made with fresh mangoes and Dreyers mango ice cream). My go-to Sweet Booth order is the watermelon smoothie, which is made with fresh blended watermelon. The Sweet Booth is open 11 to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 11 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. The Sweet Booth, 388 Ninth St. (between Webster and Franklin), Oakland