CREEKWOOD Creekwood quietly opened on Sacramento Street the weekend of Nov. 16, giving the area south of Ashby a higher-end choice among the neighborhood’s casual eateries and beer gardens (Moxy, Sideshow). The wide, warmly lit, contemporary dining room features comfortable booths, big windows, and an open kitchen, with heated patio seating available out front. Seasonal Cal-Italian cuisine includes rotating appetizers, pasta dishes, Neapolitan pizzas, and two entrées — currently a half chicken on panzanella with jus, and a bavette steak with twice-baked potato (the most expensive item on the menu at $26). Owners are childhood friends Greg Poulios and Mark Louie, chef is Liam Bonner, and all three worked together at the former Zuppa in San Francisco. Early reports call the restaurant inviting, family friendly and so far worth the five-year wait. Creekwood, 3121 Sacramento St. (at Woolsey), Berkeley
MARIN PIZZA Berkeley families may have had a tough time saying good-bye to four-year Gilman corridor standby Farm Burger last month, but Tom Wyman and Michael McGuan hope they will welcome the partners’ newer enterprise, Marin Pizza, that opened in the same space Nov. 23. Marin pizzas are fast and completely customized — for a fixed price of $12.95, diners choose dough (classic or gluten-free), cheese (regular or vegan), and farm-fresh toppings — and then wait two (!) minutes while their unique creation is crisped to order in a 750-degree, Italian stone oven. Seasonal salads are similarly personalized using the restaurant’s production line of locally sourced ingredients, and adults can choose from a wide array of local craft beer and nicer wines. Look for Go-Pro-style outdoor and athletic footage (along with actual games) broadcast on 4K monitors around the space. McGuan was Georgia-based Farm Burger’s West Coast operations manager before teaming up with Wyman to launch Marin Pizza’s flagship in Corte Madera in 2017. The Berkeley location is number two. Marin Pizza, 1313 Ninth St. (at Gilman), Berkeley
MUNCH INDIA Nosh’s recent profile of dedicated husband-and-wife chef-owners Diana Afroza and Nick Ahmed detailed their uncommonly high standards for freshness and authenticity in their regional Indian cooking. It’s one of the reasons the couple’s seven-year-old Munch India food truck is so popular, and why their cozy, first brick-and-mortar restaurant, open Nov. 7, should pique the interest of local Indian-food devotees. Note: The new Munch India dine-in restaurant is cashless, and there is a $20 minimum per person. The casual food truck remains in operation for lunch. Munch India, 3015 Shattuck Ave. (between Ashby and Emerson), Berkeley
WESTERN PACIFIC Chef Charlie Hallowell’s continued participation in the restaurant industry remains dogged by controversy. Despite this, his first Berkeley property opened at 2284 Shattuck Ave. on Nov. 1, in what used to be Build Pizzeria Roma. There is no denying the beauty of the restaurant itself — a stunner outfitted in reclaimed woods and copper details, with two wood-fired ovens and a separate redwood bar. Handmade pasta dishes include a family-style option (“spaghettata”) for groups. Blistered Neapolitan pizzas are reminiscent of Hallowell’s one other remaining property, Pizzaiolo, as are the well-crafted cocktails and casual Wednesday-to-Sunday breakfast café. Though the restaurant is co-owned by Hallowell, managing partner Donna Insalaco is the majority owner, and she has the same leverage at Pizzaiolo. According to a direct source, it is Insalaco who is responsible for employees and operations at both restaurants, while Hallowell’s position is a “parallel” one to the staff, mainly as collaborator with the chefs de cuisine. Whether the results are pizza, pasta and pastry non grata remains to be seen. Western Pacific, 2284-2286 Shattuck Ave. (at Bancroft), Berkeley
THE BURGER JOINT This cute, two-level Elmwood space morphed from Troy Greek Cuisine (closed November 2017) into promising eatery The Burger Joint under the same owners in January (not to be confused with Burger Joint in San Francisco and at SFO), but then closed altogether this month, leaving the Elmwood with one fewer budget-friendly option.
CHICK’N RICE Nosh reported the permanent closure of this downtown Thai eatery under the Chick’n Rice name — with the good news that the San Jose-based company has merged with, and will reopen as, Rooster & Rice. Both the now-defunct Chick’n Rice and San Francisco-based Rooster & Rice mini-chains specialized in the Thai street food staple khao mun gai, fragrant poached chicken with broth-flavored rice, and have now combined forces. Rooster & Rice has several new locations in the works; the (re)opening date of the Berkeley location remains TBD.
PIQ Pane Italiano Qualità on Shattuck Square in downtown Berkeley, more commonly know as PiQ and a central gathering spot for both morning coffee and lunch, closed over the Thanksgiving holiday. A new Italian café and wine bar, Passione Caffe, the brainchild of Hot Italian and Passione Pizza owner Fabrizio Cercatore, is slated to open there just as soon as the city hands over the business license. Read more.
ICI ICE CREAM Fans of Mary Canales’ organic ice cream were shocked to hear the news on Nov. 29 that both of Berkeley’s Ici shops — the original 12-year-old one in the Elmwood, and the one-year-old store on University Avenue (at Shattuck) — had abruptly shuttered. Canales thanked her loyal customers for their support over the years, but has not given a reason for the decision as yet. Read more.
BIERHAUS Though Golden Road may have hit the road, Bierhaus, at nearby 360 40th St. has joined the growing fleet of Temescal beer-centric destinations, as of Nov. 25. The popular European-style beer garden was forced out of its Mountain View home earlier this fall, and hopes to find new love in Oakland in a space that, fittingly, is a bit more haus than garten (though there is a nice amount of sidewalk seating). Find 20 or so taps of mostly German ales, as well as burgers, sausages, pretzels and other bar snacks for lunch and dinner (just dinner on Mondays), and a possible sighting of Stout the dog. Bierhaus, 360 40th St. (at Manilla), Oakland
BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE PIEDMONT Piedmont Avenue landed itself a shiny new Blue Bottle Coffee storefront on Nov. 3, located at the corner of 40th and Piedmont where former A. G. Ferrari Foods used to be. Like most Blue Bottle cafés, the stark, bright space feels modern, minimalist and intensely focused on one thing: high-caliber coffee drinks. There are four two-top booths, one community table, and — be warned — no Wi-Fi; fans of this Bay Area-based, heavyweight coffee brand (now famously international and owned by Nestlé) probably won’t mind as they get their hyper-fresh coffee fix and stroll the avenue. Yet another Blue Bottle café will open soon at 2001 Franklin St., bringing the number of Oakland locations to five, with one in downtown Berkeley. Blue Bottle Coffee Piedmont, 4001 Piedmont Ave. (at 40th), Oakland
BURLAP COFFEE The burgeoning area around MacArthur BART has a new café in Burlap Coffee, from the owners of Kefa Coffee in Jingletown. The sizable coffee shop serves mainly Ethiopian roasts in drip coffee, espresso drinks, cold and nitro brews, with vegan doughnuts, pastries and other small bites. There’s even a piano in the back area of the roomy space. Burlap Coffee, 511 40th St. (at Telegraph), Oakland
CAMBODIAN STREET FOOD Chef Nite Yun’s much praised Cambodian restaurant Nyum Bai attracted a well-earned spotlight this year, but Cambodian cooking is far from new to the East Bay. This month, East Oakland hole-in-the-wall spot On Luck The Khmer Corner (once the late Howard Lee’s Chinese take-out joint On Luck Food To Go) transformed into cash-only Cambodian Street Food, featuring a meat-heavy menu of take-away dishes such as steak sauced with prahok, the sour beef soup salaw machu kroeung, cha kroeung — a lemongrass chicken stir fry — and sticky street finger food such as chicken wings and meat sticks. Cambodian Street Food, 2045 Foothill Blvd. (at 21st), Oakland
CHEF SMELLY As first reported by the Chronicle, Chef Smelly (a.k.a. long-time Oakland chef Edward Wooley), whose Creole pop-up dinners were shut down by Alameda County in October, has, as of press time, found a permanent home thanks to OVO Tavern owner Trevelon Adanandus. Reports are in flux, but it appears the collaboration softly started Nov. 27, with a possible official launch happening in December. Stay tuned… and nice one Oakland community! Chef Smelly at Oakland’s Very Own Tavern & Eatery, 5319 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way (between 53rd and 54th), Oakland
CLASSIC CARS WEST It was already a vintage car dealership, cutting-edge art gallery, events space and beer garden with local craft brews and food from Hella Vegan Eats — and, as of Nov. 9, Classic Cars West now boasts a full bar. According to owner Michael Sarcona, the venue offers classic and seasonal cocktails, and top-shelf, mainly locally distilled spirits. Sarcona recommends the house-made Kentucky Mule on draft with which to perhaps toast a purchase or celebrate local art. Classic Cars West Bar, Beer Garden & Restaurant, 411 26th St. (between Telegraph and Broadway), Oakland
CO NAM Stylish Vietnamese restaurant Co Nam has officially taken over the keystone property at 3936 Telegraph at 40th as of Nov. 20, after the April departure of Portofino Café. Diners might know husband-and-wife owners Trung Nguyen and chef Vy Lieou’s other projects: Co Nam in San Francisco, and Oakland’s Xyclo on Piedmont Avenue, chef Lieou’s first restaurant. As with the city location of Co Nam, the new Oakland corner restaurant promises a heartfelt tribute to “rustic” South Vietnamese street food — pho, buns, rice bowls, skewers — made refined by Lieou’s polished cooking and nostalgic by Nguyen’s childhood in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Vintage family photos are even part of the decor. Dinner is served Tuesdays through Sundays; look for lunch in the coming weeks. Co Nam, 3936 Telegraph Ave. (at 40th), Oakland
EM DELI & CATERING Not new, but new to Montclair Village is Korean food market and deli Em Deli & Catering. In business for 20 years, most recently at 329 14th St. in Oakland’s Civic Center neighborhood (with a second location on Post St. in San Francisco), the mart is now headquartered at the former A.G. Ferrari storefront at 6119 La Salle Ave. Em Deli & Catering, 6119 La Salle Ave. (between Mountain and Moraga), Oakland
FOB KITCHEN Juhu Beach Club’s successor FOB Kitchen (“F.O.B.” is a tongue-in-cheek reclaiming of “fresh off the boat”) sure seems just the right fit for that space and neighborhood since its under-the-radar opening Nov. 7. Married chef-owners Janice and Brandi Dulce’s flavorful Filipino cuisine, formerly a cult favorite for pop-up meals at San Francisco’s Gashead Tavern, is satisfying a craving Temescal didn’t even know it had, and the pretty interior is made tropical by both the sunny decor and lush cocktails. Popular dinner dishes include slow-roasted “Janice’s ribs,” roasted whole fish, and grass-fed bistek, along with pancit, lumpia and lechon kawali, or crispy pork belly. Though mostly meaty, there are a few veg options, including a tofu and mushroom adobo. Weekend brunch — think tapsilog — is also a highlight here. FOB Kitchen, 5179 Telegraph Ave. (at 51st), Oakland
KULTMIX Taking over the former Kim Huong in Oakland’s Chinatown is Asian-fusion restaurant KultMix — and mix seems the right word. The restaurant claims health benefits (electrolytes, minerals, antioxidants) from its menu of noodle dishes, barbecue, fried rice plates, pho, skewers and a special cheese-and-beef-smothered French-fry concoction called the Kult Beef Fries. (If that’s health food, sign us up.) To drink, choose from fresh fruit smoothies, energy drinks, or bottles of Dom Perignon. Definitely a mix. KultMix, 304 10th St. (at Harrison), Oakland
PIZZA MARICA Family-owned, seafood-focused Marica in Rockridge shuttered in July, and, on Nov. 17, was refreshed and reopened under the same owners as Pizza Marica. As the name suggests, the restaurant’s new specialty is flavorful, thin-crust pizzas, alongside a short menu of soups, salads, finger foods and, in a nod to the past, seafood. Speaking of seafood, Pizza Marica has already earned some attention for its lobster pizza, and there’s also one topped with P.E.I. mussels in a Pernod-shallot-butter sauce. Check out the full menu, and look for lunch in the coming days. Pizza Marica, 5301 College Ave. (between Hudson and Clifton), Oakland
SHEWHAT Shewhat opened in late summer in the former Asmarina Café property, bringing Ethiopian, Eritrean and some American dishes to a cozy space in Oakland’s Bushrod neighborhood. As encouraged by the East Bay Express, diners might want to opt for a combo plate of Abby Dair’s cooking, definitely order the coffee (as much a ritual as a drink), and might even recognize the proud, new chef-owner from her other job at Berkeley Bowl West. Shewhat, 6101 Shattuck Ave. (at 61st), Oakland
KIM HUONG Kim Huong at 304 10th St. in Oakland’s Chinatown shuttered this month after 11 years. The restaurant was known for consistent, budget-friendly Vietnamese noodles, soups and other dishes in a low-key space. The location has already quick-changed into KultMix (see Oakland openings, above).
PIG IN A PICKLE Emeryville Public Market fans can now add high-end barbecue to the food court list (that also includes soul food, ramen, Cal-Mexican, Indian, Peruvian, Korean, sushi and vegan ice cream). This fact seems particularly pleasing to the patrons of the market’s month-old central bar, who can now enjoy the game with a beer and a heaping plate of baby back ribs or brisket. Credit chef Damon Stainbrook behind Pig in a Pickle’s counter, whose cooking resume includes One Market and The French Laundry, and who swears by California white oak for his slow-smoked meats. Families, look for the kids’ menu of smaller plates and sandwiches. Pig in a Pickle, Public Market Emeryville, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville
AS KNEADED Thoroughly profiled by Nosh writer Alix Wall earlier this month, San Leandro’s new bread shop, from owner and head baker Iliana Imberman Berkowitz, has risen to meet expectations since its grand opening Nov. 3. Note: Berkowitz’s rustic, wholesome breads can also be found at a range of local purveyors, as well as at the dedicated new retail shop. As Kneaded Bakery, 585 Victoria Ct. (at Bancroft), San Leandro
FIELDWORK SAN RAMON Fieldwork Brewing has done it again, this time in San Ramon. The prolific brewery’s latest bar and beer garden opened Nov. 8, and features the same fresh, flavorful array of seasonal craft brews as at its five other NorCal locations. Look for the roomy, industrial bar with floor-to-ceiling windows and spacious patio with fire pits in the Bishop Ranch business complex, and prepare to get comfortable. Fieldwork San Ramon, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd. (at Camino Ramon), San Ramon
LA FINESTRA RISTORANTE Felled by a fire in July, 2017, Lafayette favorite La Finestra Ristorante has found a new home in Moraga, in the space formerly held by Terzetto Cuisine. The white-tablecloth Italian restaurant from chef Jeff Assadi features an extensive menu of antipasti, pasta dishes and larger entrees with a Sicilian bent for lunch or dinner. The dining room seats 50 with a piano lounge area and private banquet room for 30. La Finestra Ristorante, 1419 Moraga Way (in the Moraga Shopping Center), Moraga
NOODLE THEORY Noodle Theory’s third outpost opened in Moraga in…August. Despite the late mention, Nosh considers it a duty to inform readers of any and all fresh noodle options in the East Bay. As with Noodle Theory’s first two restaurants, the menu choices for lunch and dinner range from dumplings to saucy noodles to ramen with many family-friendly options. Noodle Theory Moraga, 376 Park St., inside Rheem shopping center, Moraga
PUESTO MEXICAN ARTISAN KITCHEN & BAR Colorful Puesto opened in Concord on Nov. 11. The sixth location of the large-scale, San Diego-based taco chain (there is also one in Santa Clara) features a wide-open urbane design, with vibrant murals from graffiti artist Chor Boogie and a hydraulic “interactive liquor carousel” serving the venue’s busy, agave-focused bartenders. With 7,500 square feet of indoor and veranda seating, and room for 250 diners, that’s a lot of filet mignon tacos and tequila to go around. Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar, 2035 Diamond Blvd. (near The Veranda shopping mall), Concord
ROLL & BOWL Alameda now has a poke bowl and Thai-style rolled ice cream shop in Roll & Bowl, open Nov. 23, featuring poke bowls with many different proteins to choose from, and a pretty array of rolled housemade ice cream in flavors from purple yam to coffee. Roll & Bowl, 2302 Encinal Ave. (at Oak), Alameda
ALAMEDA WINE COMPANY After more than 10 years in business, a rent dispute with the City of Alameda led to the shuttering of wine bar and boutique Alameda Wine Company on Nov. 6. When reached for comment, owner-operator Karen Ulrich attributed the election night closure to “a personality conflict” rather than a financial issue, and called it “sad news.” In a blog post she said, “…AWC was not about me, but about the space, where people could gather, comfortably, and converse at ease. These spaces are rare finds.” She will not pursue another venue.