Owner Roy Lam at Alley Kitchens in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Owner Roy Lam at Alley Kitchens in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna



ALLEY KITCHENS With his new venture near Cal, owner Roy Lam of Alley Kitchens on Telegraph Avenue hopes to mimic the appeal of his favorite places to eat in Japan — namely, the small street-food stalls contained in Japanese alleyways. As of soft opening, three separately named food purveyors are on site in the intimate space with counter seating and a standing bar: Umidon, Kuroki and Whisk feature chirashi sushi and donburi; ramen (including vegan ramen); and organic matcha sourced from Japan, respectively. Prices are affordable (around $10 for ramen and rice bowls, a few dollars more for sushi) for the mostly student-based clientele. Alley Kitchens, 2309 Telegraph Ave. (between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue), Berkeley

BOILEROOM From coffee and counterculture to hot pot and rolled ice cream — the times, they are a changin’. Boileroom, in the former, iconic Caffè Mediterraneum (closed for three years, but for many the wounds are still fresh), serves a very modern mash-up of individual-sized Taiwanese hot pot for both meat-eaters and vegetarians, and rolled ice creams in a variety of seasonal (and even secret) flavors that might lure a 2020 version of Benjamin Braddock. Boileroom, 2475 Telegraph Ave. (between Dwight Way and Haste Street), Berkeley

EAST BAY PROVISIONS A new fast-casual bakery and café counter inside the venerable Claremont Club & Spa offers artisan, French-inflected breads, pastries and light breakfast and lunch fare to guests and the general public. Though initially advertised as an evening wine bar, the focus is now on baked goods and early hours. It’s open from 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m., daily. East Bay Provisions at Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel, 41 Tunnel Road (at the Carriage Entrance), Berkeley

EL POLLO PICANTE This new spicy chicken sandwich pop-up at El Burro Picante is run by owner Cal Kepner of El Burro Picante (which makes old-timers wonder… is that actually a pop-up? Or is that just having something new on the menu?). In any event, on offer are habanero-spiced fried chicken sandwiches for $8.50, Thursdays and Fridays beginning at 7 p.m. until they sell out. Kepner says the pop-up may move around in the future, who can tell, but for now, the donkey’s given it a very successful kick-off, with up to 150 sandwiches sold nightly at this month’s first events. El Pollo Picante inside El Burro Picante, 2021 University Ave. (near Milvia Street), Berkeley

Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya in Berkeley.
Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya in Berkeley bravely opened just in time to participate in Berkeley Restaurant Week. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

FISH & BIRD SOUSAKU IZAKAYA This ultra-cool opening, named in part for a gravelly Tom Waits love song, brings modern Japanese cuisine and a full bar to the space formerly occupied by Saha. For background on the three B-Dama and Utzutzu vets behind the project, and the ways in which Fish & Bird incorporates inflections and playfulness often found in Japan (but not typically in Japanese restaurants in America), read Sarah Han’s profile. The izakaya’s busy soft opening began Jan. 21, just in time for Berkeley Restaurant Week. Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya, 2451 Shattuck Ave. (at Haste Street), Berkeley

FRESHROLL This fast-casual chain has landed on Telegraph Avenue, offering students a healthy, quick Vietnamese-inspired option near campus. Build-your-own grab-and-go meals include rolls, sandwiches, bowls and pho. The Berkeley location is the San Francisco-based outfit’s fourth, and the first in the East Bay. Freshroll, 2334 Telegraph Ave. (between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue), Berkeley

Nest of Comforts is a new tea room in the former Sanctuary Bistro space in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna
Nest of Comforts is a new tea room in the former Sanctuary Bistro space in Berkeley. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

NEST OF COMFORTS Anglophiles and anyone who fancies a cuppa should cozy up to this new tea room in the former Sanctuary Bistro space. Nest of Comforts features individual cups of tea on up to “full service” (paired with assorted finger sandwiches, scones, pastries) and that indulgence rarely seen outside the U.K., the cream tea, a cup served with a scone, clotted cream and jam. There is even tea service for children, with a choice of tea, milk or hot chocolate to go with pastries and small sandwiches. Also on offer are coffee drinks, a la carte small plates, cheese boards, salads and other light lunch and dinner fare. Nest of Comforts, 1019 Camelia St. (at Tenth Street), Berkeley

PEPE’S MEXICAN GRILL Every seat in this friendly eatery was taken when Nosh stopped by its grand opening on Jan. 26. The former La Palmita Café across from REI is newly owned and operated by a husband and wife, and now sweetly named for a deceased young family member who “loved food, especially burritos.” Pepe’s sells tacos including quesabirria, wet and regular burritos, tortas, quesadillas, and specialty plates of chile relleno, mole, menudo, pozole and the like. Prices are very reasonable, and families especially should note the generous kid’s special for children aged six and under of a regular taco, side of rice and beans and a juice box. (It’s free.) Don’t miss the back patio on nicer days. Pepe’s Mexican Grill, 1335 San Pablo Ave. (between Gilman and Camelia streets), Berkeley

Co-owner Daniel at Pepe's Mexican Grill.
Pepe’s Mexican Grill co-owner Daniel welcomes guests to his new restaurant, opened this month in the former La Palmita Café space. Photo: Joanna Della Penna


EXTREME PIZZA The final Berkeley location of Extreme Pizza closed in December, and sharp readers may have noticed that upcoming Casa Barotti will soon fill the vacant space. Meanwhile, Extreme Pizza fans will now have to travel further afield, to Richmond, Oakland or Alameda, for their fix. Extreme Pizza was at 3204 College Ave. in Berkeley.

LILLY THAI KITCHEN After taking the place of Mim Thai Cuisine in June 2018, Lilly Thai Kitchen in West Berkeley closed this month. Nosh tipster Karen Hata sent a photo of a sign for the new business to come: Thai Fusion. Lilly Thai Kitchen was at 1453 Dwight Way.

Moxy Beer Garden.
Moxy Beer Garden closed in January after more than six years in business. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

MOXY In 2013, this friendly bar with a lively patio lit up an otherwise quiet stretch of Sacramento Street, giving the area a casual spot to gather for burgers and beer and paving the way for future neighbors such as Sideshow and Creekwood. Unfortunately, Moxy’s story came to a complicated end this month and is now abandoned. Moxy was at 3136 Sacramento St. in Berkeley.

LA PALMITA CAFÉ Locals were bereft when the owner of this long-running neighborhood Mexican eatery retired and the little restaurant and pleasant patio closed late last year. Luckily, the space reopened this month as Pepe’s Mexican Grill (see Open, above). La Palmita Café was at 1335 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley.

SNACK BOX When Northside favorite Snack Shack moved into more visible digs last year, its former space on Hearst Avenue morphed for a short time into Snack Box, a take-out spot. Snack Box has since closed, and word on the street is that the small counter will soon reopen under new owners as a Korean-style hot dog stand. Snack Shack at 1828 Euclid Ave. remains alive and well; Snack Box (RIP) was at 2505 Hearst Ave. in Berkeley.

Snack Box, the Snack Shack's temporary take-out spot, has closed.
Snack Box, the Snack Shack’s former location and, until recently, its temporary take-out spot, has closed. Photo: Doug Ng

SUYA AFRICAN-CARIBBEAN GRILL The eight-year-old Berkeley location of Suya African-Caribbean Grill, purveyor of flavorful grilled skewers and sides, has quietly closed. The space will be reborn as Flavia Osteria when the pasta house moves there from its current Center Street location next month. Meanwhile, Suya’s two Oakland locations on Broadway Avenue and 22nd Street are both going strong. Suya African-Caribbean Grill was at 2130 Oxford St. in Berkeley.

WESTERN PACIFIC Charlie Hallowell’s year-old Berkeley restaurant appears to be no more. Attempts to confirm by press time went unanswered, though the space has been dark for a couple of weeks and an outgoing phone message says reservations are no longer being taken, encouraging diners to instead contact sister restaurant, Pizzaiolo. The spacious downtown restaurant, Hallowell’s first in Berkeley, was undeniably handsome, the wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and Cal-Med nibbles soulful, but Western Pacific launched just as Hallowell’s reputation was in irons, possibly leading many local diners to take their dollars elsewhere. Watch Nosh to see what’s next for the space. Western Pacific was at 2286 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.



Bamboo Asia Far Out Market in Oakland.
Bamboo Asia Far Out Market’s downtown Oakland location. Photo: Bamboo Asia

BAMBOO ASIA FAR OUT MARKET This bright, modern and colorful new addition to Oakland City Center, opened Jan. 6, is part of a growing Bay Area chain, specializing in healthful, fast-casual bites from Japan, India and Vietnam. Bamboo Asia Far Out Market, Oakland City Center, 1221 Broadway Ave. (at 12th Street), Oakland

BIZZY’S DRY BAR As Nosh revealed, Bizzy’s is getting buzz precisely for its lack of one. The new Oakland bar is nonalcoholic, meaning all the refreshment, atmosphere and conviviality of a bar, just…sober, and without the hangover. Bizzy’s is located within Black Spring Coffee Company, thanks to community-minded owner Ryan Stark; coffee drinks are poured from 7 a.m.-4 p.m., and the bar takes over at 6:30 p.m. Bizzy’s Dry Bar, 2930 Telegraph Ave. (between 29th and 30th streets), Oakland

DELICIOUS CURRY HOUSE Indian, Pakistani and Nepalese flavors are on offer at Delicious Curry House, new as of late December where Marhaba used to operate. The restaurant offers dishes from India and Pakistan (biryani, karahi, goat and seafood specialties and a wide variety of naan) and a separate list of Nepalese options (momos, chow mein, chicken choila) as well as a similarly affordable all-you-can-eat lunch buffet to its predecessor. Delicious Curry House, 1437 Franklin St. (between 14th and 15th streets), Oakland

KITCHEN STORY Kitchen Story’s story begins with Korean-born restaurateur Steven Choi, credited with popularizing (and owning the trademark for) Millionaire’s Bacon; he also owns, with his wife Jiyeon Choi, the Berkeley Social Club, Kitchen Story in San Francisco, the Sweet Maple growing family of restaurants and a growing list of other properties around the Bay Area. Kitchen Story Rockridge, in the former Duchess space, brings a similar, all-day breakfast and brunch menu to the neighborhood as is found at the popular Castro location, along with strong cocktails and a dinner menu with Korean inflections. Kitchen Story Rockridge, 5422 College Ave. (between Kales and Manilla), Oakland

MALIBU’S BURGERS Look for new Malibu’s Burgers plant-based burger food truck (whose launch Nosh covered, in an interesting nod to the moment, alongside the departure of Chris Kronner’s carnivore burgers from Berkeley), near Lake Merritt most Wednesday through Monday afternoons. Malibu’s offers loaded Impossible and Beyond burgers, vegan fries and shakes certain to stir cravings across the diet spectrum. Malibu’s Burgers, check Instagram for specific locations and times, Oakland.

NAAN N CURRY Oakland now has its own Naan N Curry, long a San Francisco standby for affordable Indian and Pakistani cuisine with generous portions. (The local minichain also has a location in Concord.) Naan N Curry Oakland, 1615 Clay St. (between 16th and 17th streets) Oakland

WILD RABBIT BAKERY Taking over the former Fog City Bakehouse space is charming Wild Rabbit Bakery, opened late last month on Grand Avenue. Small-batch, housemade treats include French canalés, scones (try the Earl Grey), chocolate-chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies, kouign amann, muffins and cinnamon rolls, as well as savory fare such as cheese rolls, fresh hummus, salads, soups and quiches. Before you hop down there, please note the bakery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Wild Rabbit Bakery, 3249 Grand Ave. (between Elwood and Santa Clara avenues), Oakland

WINGSTOP LAUREL The Laurel District has a new Wingstop chicken-wing fast-food franchise location as of this month. Wingstop, 4005 MacArthur Blvd. (at 38th Avenue), Oakland


ICEY CREAM Hoodline revealed that this pink corner ice cream shop that sold Lappert’s ice cream and other desserts on Grand Avenue has shuttered after four years. Icey Cream was at 346 Grand Ave. in Oakland.

KATRINA ROZELLE PASTRIES & DESSERTS For 33 years, pastry chef Katrina Rozelle’s glamorous cakes and impressive pastries, desserts, cookies and holiday treats have adorned celebration tables throughout the Bay Area and beyond, so it’s hitting locals somewhat hard that Rozelle has announced her retirement. The upscale Oakland shop closed on New Year’s Eve, and her Alamo location closes today. Katrina Rozelle Pastries & Desserts was at 5931 College Ave. in Oakland.

MARHABA INDIAN & PAKISTANI HALAL CUISINE This six-year-old Indian and Pakistani spot known for its budget-friendly lunch buffet has morphed into Delicious Curry House (see Open, above), and is under new ownership. Marhaba Indian & Pakistani was at 1437 Franklin St. in Oakland.

PUNJABI TADKA/FLAVORS OF INDIA LAKESHORE Punjabi Tadka on Lakeshore Avenue, known to some as Punjabi Tarka, and previously Flavors of India, has closed and is for lease. The restaurant was at 3276 Lakeshore Ave. in Oakland.

TROUBLE COFFEE COMPANY OAKLAND Trouble Coffee Company founder Giulietta Carrelli is known (and treasured) for her unsubtle spirit, which is why it was a surprise to learn Trouble Coffee had departed West Oakland somewhat quietly in late 2019. Attempts to reach Carrelli, who retains the successful Trouble Coffee Co. at 4033 Judah St. in San Francisco, have gone unanswered, though she may have left Oakland for similar reasons to exiting Bayview in 2017. Her Oakland location, featuring Trouble’s notable coffee drinks and toast in a stark white space, will be missed. Trouble Coffee Company was at 1545 Willow St. in Oakland.

Temporarily closed

Porque No? Tacos chefs and owners Antonio Luquin and Omar Lopez stand outside their permanent pop-up restaurant in Rockridge.
Porque No? Tacos, run by chefs and owners Antonio Luquin and Omar Lopez, is no longer at Pucquio, but word on the street is they’ll be reopening at a new location in the coming days. Photo: Alix Wall

PORQUE NO? TACOS Opened in June inside Pucquio on College Avenue, new but beloved Porque No? Tacos has confused its many fans with a temporary closure that, after several weeks and a fluid reopening date, seems…less than temporary. The good news is that the pop-up has apparently found new digs, according to an insider, and might soon reopen somewhere in the vicinity of 51st Avenue and Broadway. As of press time that is all we know; we’ll keep you posted, no?



BURGERIM The Israeli fast-food chain opened its newest Bay Area location at the Rossmoor Shopping Center in Walnut Creek. Burgerim, 1980 Tice Valley Blvd., Suite A, Walnut Creek

Middle Eastern eats at Halalicious in Alameda.
Halalicious in Alameda specializes in Middle Eastern-inspired eats, like rice plates, pita wraps and salads. Photo: Halalicious

HALALICIOUS Look for halal, Middle Eastern-inspired rice plates, pita wraps and salads made with a choice of falafel, chicken shawarma or beef at this new west Alameda eatery. An a la carte “munchies” menu includes hummus, baba ghanoush, and fries with customizable toppings. Halalicious, 1606 Webster St. (between Pacific and Lincoln avenues), Alameda

KANDA RAMEN & BBQ Old San Leandro has a new ramen shop in Kanda Ramen & BBQ, featuring bowls of seafood ramen, including one with just lobster, as well as beef, pork, miso and other broths, including a vegan variation. Grilled side offerings include lamb chops, ox tongue, chicken gizzard and heart, saury, oysters and scallops. There are also many fried offerings, such as soft shell crab. Kanda Ramen & BBQ, 145 Pelton Center Way (near Parrott Street), San Leandro

LARA’S FINE DINING As reported in Bites, Richmond has a sparkling new waterfront restaurant in Lara’s Fine Dining, from Point Richmond-based restaurateur Lara Choe, opened in the well-known former Salute e Vita property. Dishes include pizza, pasta, seafood, steak and other upscale classics; there is also a full bar with a separate food menu. Lara’s Fine Dining, 1900 Esplanade Dr. (near Schooner Drive), Richmond

MANAKISH OVEN & GRILL Walnut Creek’s new Manakish Oven & Grill is getting good reviews for its flavorful, fast-casual Lebanese cuisine, and especially for the signature, pizza-like dish for which it was named. Manakish Oven & Grill, 2905 N. Main St. (near Geary Road), Walnut Creek


Hot Italian, the only free-standing restaurant at the Public Market Emeryville, closed in December.
Hot Italian, one of the only stand-alone restaurants at the Public Market Emeryville, closed in December. Photo: Joanna Della Penna

HOT ITALIAN This 10-year vet of the Public Market Emeryville — one of the complex’s only stand-alone restaurants, with its own dining room and bar — sadly didn’t see the new year. The Sacramento Bee first alerted readers to the mini-chain’s impending closure due to financial troubles; Hot Italian’s Sacramento flagship restaurant closed in step with the Emeryville location (a third Hot Italian in Davis closed in 2018). Meanwhile, pizzaiolo Fabrizio Cercatore, the pizzeria’s former co-founder, has many other irons in the fire, including Berkeley’s upcoming Passione Emporio. Hot Italian was at 5959 Shellmound St. in Emeryville.

SUBWAY The E’ville Eye reported that five (!) Subway franchise locations within Emeryville’s square mile were perhaps one too many, and the shop at 6399 Christie Ave. has closed.

Freelancer Joanna Della Penna has written about food, people and the arts in the Bay Area since moving here from the East Coast in 2001, and was Gayot's Northern California regional restaurant editor for...