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Reopening fever (wrong word?) has hit the Bay Area, and early summer has been a cautiously optimistic party so far. Outdoor patios and parklets are full, indoor dining and drinking are widely available for those who are ready and (one hopes) vaccinated. Pride festivities are in full flourish. Telegraph Avenue is once again abuzz with packs of students seeking sustenance. Comfort levels may vary, but for the first time in more than 15 months, mask-free maitre d’s, shared appetizers and actual hugs have been spotted all over the East Bay.
Will it all be OK? Let’s check back here next month to find out. But for now, cheers! Please tip your servers generously, don’t forget dessert, and as always, please send any opening (or closing) tips to email@example.com.
DUENDE Duende’s lengthy Covid coma had many of us wringing our manos, despite spirited chef Paul Canales’s reassurance that the beloved Uptown destination would return. In the end, the chef knew best, of course, and that paella and those pintxos, tapas, platas and flan are back as of this month. Ole! Duende, 468 19th St. (between Telegraph Avenue and Broadway), Oakland
MAMA In another comforting return (with more than a touch of moxy), Italian neighborhood restaurant Mama is also back, thanks to a new collaboration in ownership. Opened briefly as an approachable red sauce restaurant from the Bay Grape crew in 2019, the pandemic forced a pivot into take-out sandwiches, and then, sadly, closure. Mama redux will mean a return to pasta, meatballs and affordable three-course Italian prix-fixe meals. Mama, 388 Grand Ave. (between Staten Avenue and Perkins Street), Oakland
OAKLAND FOOD HALL As promised, Nosh continues to report on newer options from this ghost kitchen of more than 50 food enterprises. Recent additions are Chirashi, featuring sashimi and poke bowls, and sister business Teadom, offering boba and fruit teas. As with all Oakland Food Hall businesses, menu items are available for takeout or delivery only. (Help Nosh spotlight your favorite via our comments and tip line.) Oakland Food Hall, 2353 E. 12th St. (at Miller Avenue), Oakland
PIZZERIA VIOLETTA Look to Eve Batey’s recent Bites piece for detail on this charming (and intriguing) New York-style pizzeria, making its debut inside the former Slicer Pizza space on Piedmont Avenue. Owners are husband-and-wife team Jonathan and Sarah Ruppert, and the restaurant is named for their wee daughter Violet. Expect chef-driven thin-crust pies and slices, salads, wine and beer, as well as local sourcing and environmentally friendly practices. Basically, all the good things. Opening day was June 25. Pizzeria Violetta, 4395 Piedmont Ave. (near Pleasant Valley Avenue), Oakland
SOUL SLICE Nosh has waited for movement on this former Noodle Theory Provisions space for several years, and was excited to learn about Soul Slice first from The E’ville Eye. The handsome new restaurant’s owner is Karter Louis (San Francisco’s Samovar Tea Lounge), a native of Louisville, Kentucky, whose concept at this venture is one from his youth: Top a biscuit crust with tasty, savory (or sweet) ingredients and enjoy. At Soul Slice, Louis uses a biscuit base as a vehicle for soul food and Southern-style specialties as an Italian might use pizza dough for cheese and sauce. The restaurant opened on Juneteenth. Soul Slice, 5849 San Pablo Ave. (between 59th Street and Stanford Avenue), Oakland
SUNDO/DELA CURO It’s a touch confusing, but great news for fans: As promised, chef Chikara Ono’s two pop-ups Dela Curo (Japanese curry) and Sundo (Japanese milk bread sandwiches) are now running out of his former AS B Dama space in Swan’s Market. Thanks to Eater for noting the opening. Dela Curo/Sundo inside Swan’s Market, 538 Ninth St. (at Clay Street), Oakland
TOWN FARE It’s open with limited options for now, with picnic boxes available to go only, but Tanya Holland is proving yet new ground with her newest opening Town Fare. The cafe is located within the reopened Oakland Museum of California, and the lakeside cultural venue reflects Holland’s “love for Oakland, my love of art, and the outdoors,” according to Azucena Rasilla’s opening coverage at The Oaklandside. Food is fresh, seasonal, mostly plant based and soul food-inspired, though Holland aims to play with her menus down the line (the cafe has its own dedicated garden). Town Fare will fully open as a sit-down restaurant later in the summer. Town Fare at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. (at 10th Street), Oakland
SFIZIO PASTA AT WAY STATION BREW Italophiles will be pleased with this month’s Berkeley openings: First up, Sfizio Pasta, a sought-after pop-up from chef Matt Solimano (Pizzaiolo, June’s Pizza) now operates every Wednesday evening at Way Station Brew. Along with intermittent recent East Bay pop-ups, Solimano formerly served his gnocchi, seasonal pastas and other dishes at South Park Cafe in San Francisco. Sfizio Pasta at Way Station Brew, 2120 Dwight Way (near Shattuck Avenue), Berkeley
VIA DEL CORSO It’s a new era for the Berkeley dining destination that was Corso for 12 years, and reopened this month as Via del Corso. Despite the name’s heartfelt homage, and the dining room and open kitchen’s preserved look and feel, diners are excited for more than just the new restaurant’s similarities to the old. Owner is chef and Berkeley native Peter Chastain, who brings connection (he and former Corso co-owner Wendy Brucker have a friendship that dates back to high school) but also a stellar reputation as long-time executive chef and co-owner of white-tablecloth PRIMA Ristorante in Walnut Creek. As first reported by Nosh, Chastain’s team also includes PRIMA’s former chef de cuisine Massimo Orlando, who is originally from Emilia-Romagna, and consummate general manager Marco Penitenti. A peek inside reveals a vibe that is elegant and familiar but with fresh sparkle; a new parklet out front will add the option to dine al fresco. Oh, and have we mentioned the food? Via del Corso, 1788 Shattuck Ave. (near Delaware Street), Berkeley
V AND J FUSION Fresh, budget-friendly Vietnamese sandwiches, noodle soups, rice plates and drinks are on offer at this new little East Oakland cafe, formerly Bun Mam Mien Tay. V and J Fusion, 833 International Blvd. (at 9th Avenue), Oakland
ELIA Fatih Ulas and Mehmet Duygu opened Elia, a Greek restaurant with a menu of 15 mezzes and 10 entrees, in downtown Pleasanton this month. According to the Bay Area News Group, the sit-down spot serves lunch and dinner; the interior is “a refined, modern dining room bathed in light.” Elia, 310A Main St. (near Abbie Street), Pleasanton
HEADLANDS BREWING COMPANY Craft brewery Headlands Brewing has canned and kegged locally since 2013, but starting this month has a new, permanent home in Lafayette. The new taproom features a brewery, welcoming bar (with tiny kitchen), and outdoor landscaping that takes full advantage of Lafayette’s sunshine. Expect flights and pints of popular Headlands brews as well as some special ales crafted for the taproom only. Families and dogs welcome. Headlands Brewing Company, 3420 Mt. Diablo Blvd. (near Brown Avenue), Walnut Creek
LAFAYETTE PUBLIC HOUSE It’s all happening in Lafayette: What was Coffee Shop has officially morphed into Lafayette Public House (this happened in the spring (whoops) after various beer garden test runs that began in 2020). Reviews are very positive so far for the eclectic covered patio with counter service, offering everything from morning coffee to afternoon beers to evening margaritas to brunch to…is that a parfait? Lafayette Public House, 50 Lafayette Circle (near Mt. Diablo Boulevard), Lafayette
TACO & CO. AT FACTION BREWING This spunky taqueria based in Berkeley is now slinging tacos at Faction Brewing on Wednesday afternoons and evenings. Taco & Co. at Faction Brewing, 2501 Monarch St. (opposite W Midway Avenue), Alameda
WINGEN BAKERY It’s been a road for this husband-and-wife team, and Nosh sends big congratulations to Aimee Wingen (Homestead, Range Life) and her husband Bryan Wingen (Homeroom) on the opening of their new Livermore bakery. The storefront specializes in sourdough breads, sandwiches and pastries, and is already deeply entrenched in the Livermore community as the couple are locals, Aimee is a native, and they have baked and sold their wares at the Livermore Farmer’s Market since early 2020. More on the Wingens’ story can be found in this piece by Jeff Arnold of Livermore Patch. Wingen Bakery, 50 S Livermore Ave (between First Street and Railroad Avenue), Livermore
Interim Nosh editor Eve Batey contributed to this report