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Alley & Vine opens in Alameda
The team behind fine dining bastions Waterbar and Farallon in San Francisco — Francisco Bazo, Casey Hunt and chef Jason Ryczek — has opened a new farm-to-table restaurant in Alameda called Alley & Vine, which debuts for takeout and delivery. Alley & Vine’s California cuisine menu features dishes prepared with locally sourced produce, fresh seafood and sustainably raised meats. Some menu highlights include a duck confit salad sandwich ($13), housemade pappardelle with bolognese ($25), pan-roasted cod with Dungeness crab tortelloni, mussels and shellfish broth ($34) and a luxe appetizer featuring California sturgeon caviar served on smoked sturgeon quiche ($25). Along with several beers and an extensive wine list, Alley & Vine serves a selection of craft cocktails that will change with the season.
Although the restaurant aims to eventually open its dining room and invite customers on its trumpet vine-covered patio when allowed to do so, Alley & Vine will have to introduce itself to East Bay diners with food and drinks to-go. Order via Toast for curbside pickup in the restaurant’s parking lot; delivery is also available via Doordash. Alley & Vine is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Alley & Vine, 1332 Park St. (between Central and Encinal avenues), Alameda
Monkey King is heading to Piedmont Avenue
Monkey King, which has two restaurants in Alameda serving affordable and comforting Chinese and Asian fusion fare, just announced it will open a third location on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. It will take over the space last occupied by Itaba Kitchen & Sushi Bar. In a heartwarming and modest Instagram post about the new location, the owners of the nine-year-old business admit that expanding to outside the island — to Oakland in particular — was something they’ve always wanted to do but were unsure of: “We’ve always been intimidated by the idea of expanding our operation outside of Alameda. Oakland has a sea of fascinating and fancy local cuisine and we always doubt if our food will work outside of our comfort zone.” But, they’ve decided to take the opportunity and give it their best shot. Monkey King aims to open at the end of January. Monkey King will be at 3920 Piedmont Ave. (near Montell Street), Oakland
Spats has temporarily closed, but Smoke Berkeley is still open for takeout
Last week, Spats decided to go on hiatus. The downtown Berkeley watering hole announced on Dec. 10 that it has temporarily closed in response to the local surge in COVID-19 cases, with the hopes to reopen in early 2021. But what of Smoke Berkeley, the barbecue restaurant that’s been operating out of Spats since July 2019? Fortunately, the closure hasn’t put a wet blanket on Smoke, which is still operating for takeout and delivery from Spats’ Bentley Bar. Order takeout from Smoke Berkeley from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday by calling 510-548-8801. Smoke Berkeley, 1974 Shattuck Ave. (near University Avenue), Berkeley
Nick’s Pizza reopens in new location — now with deli sandwiches!
It’s a few months after owner Nick Yapor originally planned, but Nick’s Pizza in the Bushrod neighborhood of Oakland has reopened at its new location, found a little over a block north of its old spot at 6211 Shattuck Ave. Nick’s softly opened on Sunday, but Wednesday marked its first official day back in business, Yapor said. So far, he and his team are glad to be open again and are liking the new larger digs. “The move has given us the opportunity to bring back more of our staff safely, even though we are still trying to do a lot while still keeping our ‘work pod’ as small as possible, you can sense a great relief from the claustrophobic confines we were used to,” he explained.
Nick’s is back with sourdough crust pizzas, salads, baked goods and — what we’re most excited to try, given the closures of Genova and Stay Gold in nearby Temescal — deli sandwiches and sides, but Yapor said that the current menu is just a fraction of what he plans to eventually offer. He hopes to add more whole grain and vegetarian/vegan options to the deli and bakery offerings, as well as more cookies and pastries. By spring, Yapor plans to serve morning bagel and pastry service five days a week, adding bagel sandwiches to the menu. Nick’s Pizza is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday. Nick’s Pizza, 6400 Shattuck Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), Oakland
Sunday popcorn takeout at the Elmwood theater
One thing we’ve heard from friends during the pandemic is that along with missing watching films at movie theaters, they also really miss movie theater popcorn. For those pals and like-minded ilk, we have some good news — on Sundays, from 2:30-5:30 p.m., Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley invites locals to buy popcorn, candy and other concessions for takeout while its screens remain dark. Movie theater popcorn lovers get their share of airy, gold nuggets of fluffy, crunchy goodness, and their purchase helps support a neighborhood business to boot. Along with walk-up orders, customers can choose to pre-order popcorn in advance and schedule a pickup time. And as with restaurants that offer gift certificates to diners who want to support them through this difficult time of stay-at-home closures, the 20-year-old independent movie theater is offering something similar for its superfans. The “Popcorn Pass,” gives buyers one large popcorn a week for 10 or 20 weeks ($49-$99, respectively) to enjoy when the Elmwood theater reopens. (After publication, a reader told us that Rialto Cinemas El Cerrito has a similar popcorn and concessions takeout event on Saturdays, from 2:30-5:30 p.m., but with the addition of burgers, nachos, tater tots and more.) Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Ave. (at Ashby Avenue), Berkeley
Baskit is closing down
We recently heard from a reader that Baskit, the pandemic-born, pay-what-you-can produce delivery service is closing. We reached out to Adrian Coyne who founded the business that gives customers a week’s worth of fresh and fruits and vegetables on a sliding scale, based on what they can afford. Coyne started Baskit at the beginning of COVID-19, at the height of panic buying, as a labor of love while he was working full-time in tech. The reader who told us the news of Baskit’s impending demise wondered if the group has been in touch with any other organization to continue offering a similar service. When we asked Coyne, he responded, “I have received some similar inquiries from folks, wondering if the torch will be passed. No such move is explicitly planned, though if an entity were to reach out to me to discuss such things I’d be delighted to make that happen.”
Last chance for June Taylor preserves
I was never a fan of fruitcake until I tried a slice of June Taylor’s Christmas Cake a few holidays ago, the year that Nosh featured it. Unlike others I had in the past, this fruitcake was moist and dense, boozy, with chunks of high-quality dried fruit. After reading about this Berkeley craftmaker’s year-long preparation of all the components that go into each loaf and having a taste, I could see why, even at $60 each, the cakes sell out quickly. This year, June Taylor’s Christmas Cakes go for $80-$90, and the first batches this season sold out quickly. At 9 a.m. Wednesday, Taylor released another batch of Christmas Cakes and they too have already sold out! According to the website, there’ll be more this week.
Unfortunately, this will be the last season ever for Taylor’s Christmas Cakes, or any of her preserved fruit products for that matter. According to Taylor’s website, the British expat and longtime Berkeleyan, has decided to close her 30-year-old business, including her retail shop, the Still-Room, at the end of 2020. “I have enjoyed a long career as an artisanal producer, enabling me to express my beliefs and values about food and sustainable agriculture, and to share this work with people worldwide,” Taylor writes. The Still Room, 2207 Fourth St. (at Allston Way), Berkeley
Berkeley’s Bread Project helps parolees
The Bread Project in Berkeley, a nonprofit that supports local low-income individuals by teaching them baking skills and helping them find and retain a culinary job that pays a living wage, announced this week that going forward, it will solely focus on serving individuals on parole or probation. Since its founding 20 years ago, the Bread Project has always worked with formerly incarcerated people — who have made up about 25% of its graduates — and have had great success helping them along the path to self-sufficiency. In September, the organization has expanded its program, adding another four weeks to teach food preparation and cooking in addition to baking. For now, all classes are online. As the end of the year approaches, the Bread Project is seeking donations to help them continue their efforts in 2021.
Arthur Mac holiday toy drive
Arthur Mac’s Tap & Snack is hosting a toy drive this month for Oakland-based Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC). The Longfellow pizza spot is collecting new, unwrapped toys, $5 or greater in value, through Dec. 20, to be donated to children in Oakland with incarcerated parents. Every toy donation gets an entry into Arthur Mac’s raffle for free pizza and drink vouchers.
Speaking of free pizza, Arthur Mac’s is still giving out slices of pizza on Sundays through the new year. The restaurant started the campaign in August, giving away a free slice to the first 200 guests every Sunday, as a way of giving back to the community during the pandemic. Arthur Mac’s Tap and Snack, 4006 MLK Jr. Way (at 40th Street), Oakland