Berkeley: random news and notes

Guess I haven’t been to downtown Berkeley in a while. When did Belli Osteria close? I really liked getting pre-theater dinner there. A sign on the door says a new pizza place is going in. Anyone know if it’s the same owners? And where’s a good place for pasta these days? Corso? Or? (We went to Comal, instead, which was fun, but I was in the mood for Italian.)

I went to Saha frequently in the first few years it opened, previously the chef was at a small cafe in SOMA which was also very good. 15 years ago my culinary world was just opening, so I am curious to return to see what kind of judgement I had back then. I suppose this is a cautious way of saying that it is worth checking out.

Rotten City is hands down my favorite pizza spot. We tend to eat slices at the counter, but I like the new beer garden. My only gripe is that the beer selection used to be better, but I don’t care that much – the pizza is that good.

Saha looked to be open last night when I drove by.

Berkeleyside reports that Greek restaurant Pathos has closed and Thai restaurant Cha-Am is closing after November 6.

Pathos reports a “dispute” with their landlord, and might move to another location. I hope they find one–their food was right up there with Kokkari in the city (with prices to match, though). I think this leaves only Troy on Solano and another place on College as the only Greek restaurants in town. Simply Greek on Shattuck and Atheneion on University closed earlier this year.

The owners of Cha-Am decided to retire, and an Indian restaurant will move into their location.

Walked by today and it looks like Berkeley Social Club (located in the old Perdition space) is up and running. I couldn’t get good phones of the menu but it looks interesting. The food seems to have some Korean staples (Korean Fried Chicken, Kalbi, etc.) but it’s also fusion with korean-inspired tacos, pizza, and K.f.c. with waffles. The entrees were not too pricy (the most expensive thing on the menu looked like it was $19). They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think Perdition fans will be disappointed about the beer selection, as it seems that their collection is pretty limited (Lagunitas and the like). However, the menu I saw might not have been the full-beer menu as it was just posted on the window.

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Kauffman’s profile of Mohamed Aboghanem and Saha.

Berkeleyside has a lengthy report on new openings on Telegraph Ave., including the stretch that got damaged by fire a few years ago.

Cafe Rouge on Fourth St. will close on 12/30/2016. They report having problems attracting staff, and their chef is moving on to other things. Time for me to stock the freezer with their butcher shop’s bavette steak.

I’ve noticed a number of help-wanted signs in local restaurants recently. This doesn’t seem to be related to the minimum wage increase. Maybe here, as in the city, restaurant workers are priced out of living in the community.

Wait what? When I went there a while ago to buy Hoffman chicken, the place was hopping…

Yes, they’re always busy. Here are more details:

No! One of my favorite places for lunch. I will miss it.

A friend talked to the chef yesterday. The replacement is supposed to be a “fast-casual”–order at the counter and a runner brings the food, like at the Mexican place next door. It isn’t clear whether the bar will survive. It’s one of the friendliest around. Also unclear is whether the butcher shop will continue.

Follow-up: the butcher shop is closing. As planned, I stopped in today to get a nice 3-pound slab of bavette steak, which will wet-age in the fridge for a week or so, then I’ll seal up individual portions for the freezer. Another customer was buying hundreds of dollars of meats and poultry for his own freezer.

Has anyone tried the Neapolitan pizza at Lucia’s on Shattuck? They got the oven from Napoli right on their FB page. Don’t think they have VPN but they use 00 flour for their pies. How do they compare to other Neapolitans around the bay?

A little north in El Cerrito, Cantonese favorite L&L Seafood appears to have closed. A group of us were going to have Christmas dimsum there, but one of us stopped by after they didn’t answer their phone, and found a “closed indefinitely” note. They had pretty good dimsum and seafood dishes; crispy noodles with seafood was really good.

New French creperie/ cafe on Kittredge- Maîson Bleue

Gilman Brewing Co is open per Berkeleyside.

A Thai Gelato shop is going into the space where the hot sauce shop, Heat, used to be (on MLK, near Trader Joe’s). Not open yet, but I saw a guy working inside. I admit I had to google Thai Gelato – coconut milk, apparently.

Don’t know where to put this, but Nyum Bai, the Cambodian place who worked with La Cocina, whose pop up was written up by @augustiner here , just opened this week in the Emeryville Public Market.

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