Berkeley: random news and notes

Pollara Pizzeria

1788 4th Street, Berkeley
Cash, all major credit cards
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sun.


The concept is unlike any other pizza shops I’ve come across in the Bay — and what sets Pollara apart is the unique dough. The high-hydration pizza dough is cold-fermented in the fridge for 72 hours. This allows large bubbles to form in the dough to create a honeycomb structure, yielding crust that’s thick yet surprisingly crisp, light, and airy. The pizza is baked in an electric pizza oven from Italy.

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Berkeleyside reports a few notable changes to our restaurant scene.

Lilly’s, the Cantonese place on Hopkins near Monterey Market is closing, and will be replaced with a Japanese sushi joint. Last service is today, if you want some classic fried rice and pot stickers.

Bacheesos, the Mediterranean buffet place on Telegraph, is closing, and the site will become a “five-story mixed-use complex”. Last service will be on Nov. 3rd or 4th; I can’t tell from the text.

Fondue Fred is closing in December. It’s in that cute little food/shopping court at Telegraph and Dwight. Another mixed-use building will replace it. I’ve never eaten there.

Lucia’s Pizza, downtown, got a new chef from Italy, as I found out last Sunday when I ordered a breakfast pizza. The pizza used to have tomato sauce and fried eggs, but the chef says that tomato does not belong with eggs. The perfect is the enemy of the good. IMO.

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I stopped by Bacheesos for lunch today. It was great, with veggie moussaka, Persian lamb kofta, roasted tomatoes, baked fish, pilaf, roasted chicken, stuffed peppers. I’ve developed a system for AYCE, involving tasting-menu portions of each dish, so I was just comfortably full afterwards. I’ll miss the place.

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I’m sad they’re going to demolish the building. Berkeley’s getting boring. I haven’t eaten at Fondue Fred’s since college in the late 80s, but I remember having cheesecake for dessert! Lilly’s was fine in a pinch. And as for no egg on a tomato sauce pizza – that’s crazy.

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Yes, the no egg thing is a mystery, considering that another brunch dish is Italian baked eggs–in tomato sauce.

Located at 3170 College Avenue in Berkeley, Boichik will fire up its ovens on Friday, November 29 — or “Bagel Black Friday,” as owner and bagel-maker-in-chief Emily Winston is calling it — with a limited menu of bagels, spreads, and lox. The shop’s initial hours will be 7:30 a.m.–1 p.m.

.…the bagels, at $3 a pop, will be a high-end product…

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Two new places opened recently on Solano (technically Albany)

Chez Mansour, in the old Britt-Marie site on the next block east from China Village, has a big menu of Lebanese small plates and mezza (meze), to accompany about ten kinds of kebabs and other grilled items. I had a lamb kebab for lunch a couple of days ago, $8.00 for a single portion with roasted potatoes, green salad and complimentary olives and two kinds of pita bread. The lamb was delicious, but its portion was kind of skimpy. They don’t have their alcohol license yet. There’s a partial menu at, and they don’t seem to have a website.

Duo Grill House is on the first block east of Santa Fe, at the former site of Walker’s Pies, Bo’s Grill and Ramen House, and is run by Bo, the owner of the last two. I don’t know what to make of it. For me, it’s too expensive for lunch or breakfast, and the menu is kind of commonplace for dinner. But I thought that about Bo’s Grill as well. I might try their fried chicken and waffle for brunch sometime. (the link to the breakfast menu is broken)


Any Berkeley folks try these bagels yet?

You should give Duo Grill House a try. It was empty when I walked by yesterday and empty when we went in for lunch today at 12:30. Two other tables were occupied by the time we left. The owner seems very nice, though I don’t think it’s the same guy – Are you sure about that? The food isn’t terribly exciting, but it’s good. I had a bowl of spicy pepper-tomato soup and half an open-faced crab sandwich for $10. My mother in law was happy because the crab-artichoke dip reminded her of a similar dish at Skates. The fries I pinched were good and my husband’s braised short rib sandwich looked nice. No alcohol. (Partly why I don’t think it’s the same owner.) It’s nice to have a place that’s open all day.

Thanks. I went by there recently and noticed the $10 lunch combos. I’d already eaten, but I’ll go soon.

I had the half-crab sandwich and fries the other day. It was good, but the sandwich was kind of skimpy. I’ll give it another try.

Locally-owned taqueria La Palmita on San Pablo near Gilman is changing owners and name. The new name is <somebody’s> Mexican Grill. I was a regular at La Palmita–they had the best chile verde, the burritos were reasonably sized and inexpensive, and the chips and salsa were free. I’m hoping for the best on the new place.

posts for Berkeley News and Notes for 2020 are here in a new thread:

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Re Duo: We’ve made three visits for lunch. I started typing up a summary of all three and it ran rather long, so I’ll post it as a separate thread.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold