Mid-Week Menu: Borgo Italia Reborn as Desco, Comal Team Aims to Open New Elmwood Restaurant, and Kingston 11 Is Delayed



Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our weekly roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Tablehopper first reported that Donato Scotti (of Donato Enoteca in Redwood City) might be taking over Old Oakland’s Borgo Italia (499 9th St.). Now, with Inside Scoop’s latest update, the other shoe drops: The restaurant has already closed, and it will reopen — in late July or early August, and under Scotti’s majority ownership — as Desco. It sounds like the rustic Italian concept won’t change much, and the main motivation behind the sale is that owner Paul Ferrari is taking a medical leave. Here’s to hoping he has a speedy recovery.

Breakfast at The Grease Box (via Facebook)
  • Breakfast at The Grease Box (via Facebook)
2) Last week What the Fork broke the news about The Grease Box gluten-free brick-and-mortar restaurant that would be opening in Oakland. Well, now owner Lizzy Boelter has unveiled the location: 942 Stanford Ave., in North Oakland — the same lot where the Phat Beets food justice organization holds a farmers’ market on Saturdays, in a building previously occupied by the collective-run Crossroads Cafe. Oh, and apparently the place is already up and running, for breakfast anyway, as Boelter is serving a limited menu of muffins and OneNinetySeven coffee while she spruces up her new digs. The official opening is still scheduled for sometime in mid-July.

3) The owners of downtown Berkeley’s trendiest Mexican hotspot, Comal (2020 Shattuck Ave.) are hoping to open a new restaurant in the Elmwood district. Berkeleyside reports that John Paluska and Andrew Hoffman plan to open a restaurant specializing in California cuisine (a la Zuni or Nopa in San Francisco) in a vacant retail space at 2635 Ashby Ave. That said, the plan can only move forward if the city grants a change-of-use permit, allowing Paluska and Hoffman to turn a space zoned for retail into a dining establishment.

4) According to Diablo Dish, Tony Gulisano plans to open a new outpost of Chow, his popular mini-chain of family-friendly comfort food restaurants, on Piedmont Ave. in Oakland. Until the deal is finalized, the Chow team is keeping the exact location under wraps, except that it’ll be somewhere on the western end of the street, near Commis. The opening won’t be until next summer.

5) Diablo Dish also has an update on the new Uptown Oakland outpost of the SoCal burger chain Umami Burger (2100 Franklin St.): The restaurant has pushed up its expected opening date to most likely sometime within the next month or so.

Fans of Kingston 11s jerk chicken will have to wait a while longer.
  • Fans of Kingston 11's jerk chicken will have to wait a while longer.
6) In other Uptown action: Earlier this year, What the Fork got the scoop on Kingston 11, a former pop-up whose proprietors had begun setting up a new brick-and-mortar Jamaican restaurant at 2270 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Berkeleyside now reports that the project has been delayed due to financial setbacks. The owners are now hoping to open in mid-July.

7) Inside Scoop followed up with more details about Peruvian rotisserie chicken joint Brasa’s (1960 University Ave.) impending closure, which we noted last week. Turns out it’s a “happy ending,” as the restaurant was successful enough to allow owners Christopher and Veronica Laramie to start a family. They’ll take a break and look to open a new place that’s more along the lines of eVe, the avant-garde restaurant the couple had originally opened. The Inside Scoop story also notes the reason for Brazil Cafe’s interest in moving into that space: Its current brick-and-mortar home at 2161 Shattuck Ave. is getting demolished.

8) Over in West Oakland, the proprietors of FuseBOX announced that the restaurant will be on break from July 1 to 7. Plan your summertime banchan-and-kimchi-noshing excursions accordingly.

9) On the occasion of Chez Panisse’s long-awaited reopening, both Eater and Berkeleyside have interviews with Alice Waters. Meanwhile, Inside Scoop has some pretty pictures of the restaurant’s first night back in action.

10) Finally, ICYMI, What the Fork’s stories on the Oakland restaurant connection to the other recent Supreme Court ruling, which has maybe slipped under the radar, and a new healthy food delivery service in Berkeley.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I'll read ‘em all.