Mid-Week Menu: Jack London Square Edition (Forge, Lungomare, Haven)



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

1) All kinds of changes afoot in Oakland’s Jack London Square, which looks primed for a revitalization. For starters: Yesterday was opening day for The Forge (66 Franklin St.), the ambitious new pizza-and-beer spot on the waterfront. In addition to a behemoth of an 800-degree imported Italian pizza oven, the restaurant boasts the combined culinary firepower of three Jeffs: head chef Jeffrey Amber (formerly of Moose’s and XYZ in San Francisco), Jeff Krupman (the legendary “Pizza Hacker”), and Jeff Hayden (who slung pizza at Dopo and Boot and Shoe Service).

Amber told Grub Street the idea was to create an “American pizzeria without falling into the Italian thing.” Thus, instead of pasta, non-pizza offerings include things like fried pickles and chicken pot pie. Check out the full menu, as well as Grub Street’s slideshow of pretty photos from a recent preview dinner — the fire pits on the outdoor patio are especially striking.

Goodbye Miss Pearls, hello Lungomare (via Facebook)
  • Goodbye Miss Pearl's, hello Lungomare (via Facebook)
2) Lest you think there won’t be any Italian food to be had in Jack London Square, Lungomare (1 Broadway), the latest project from Chop Bar’s Chris Pastena and Grand Tavern’s Temoor Noor, will specialize in coastal Italian cuisine. The waterfront restaurant, which replaces Miss Pearl’s, is coming up on its opening date: Thursday, February 7. To celebrate the grand opening, there will be live music every night through the end of that first weekend (February 7-10), and diners who make their dinner reservation via the CityEats tab on the Lungomare website will get $20 off the cost of their meal. Breakfast (served in an adjacent cafe section) and lunch service will start February 11.

3) In case you didn’t hear, the South American airline LAN pulled off a nice little publicity stunt at Bocanova (55 Webster St., also in Jack London) last week: During a special South America-themed wine dinner, representatives of the airline surprised diners by giving everyone in attendance a free round-trip plane ticket to the South American destination of their choice. Of course, there just so happened to be a slew of food writers in attendance to Tweet and take photos, ensuring a near-instant viral marketing campaign. Anneli Rufus blogged about the evening for The Huffington Post — apparently, folks went bananas.

4) One last JLS tidbit: Grub Street noticed that there are a few high-profile events coming up at Haven (44 Webster St.). First up, on February 4, is a $90 prix-fixe dinner featuring the combined cooking talents of six alumni of Manresa (the Los Gatos Michelin-two-starred restaurant), including Haven’s own Kim Alter. Then, for Valentine’s Day there will be a $75 prix-fixe, and, finally, The Trappist will collaborate on a beer-paired dinner ($80) on February 17. Menus for all three events are posted here.

5) Inside Scoop reports that Oakland wunderkind James Syhabout is playing around with a new format for the kind of pop-up preview event that every PR-savvy restaurant seems to do: For preview dinners for his new Rockridge venture, Box & Bells (5912 College Ave.), Syhabout won’t just be inviting family, friends, and blogger/media types — folks who typically offer nothing but praise in that kind of setting. Instead, he’ll open the family-style dinner to the public, chat with diners afterward, and solicit honest feedback on the food: good, bad, and ugly. The first preview dinner will be held at Hawker Fare on February 17, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $45.

The squid at Destino.
  • The squid at Destino.
6) Also via Inside Scoop: Just three months after it opened, fresh-Mex spot Destino (3909 Grand Ave., Oakland is “temporarily closed for remodeling,” according to a message on the restaurant’s answering machine. I gave Destino a bit of a mixed review back in December, and this kind of sudden closure can be a kiss of death — that said, we’ll keep you posted if we find out anything about a timetable for reopening.

7) A quick note on New York City heavyhitter April Bloomfield’s impending arrival in San Francisco (to take over the iconic Tosca Cafe): Alice Waters reportedly wants a piece of the action. (Food Republic, via Eater)

8) Berkeleyside reports that Berkeley-based food company Annie’s is voluntarily recalling its line of frozen pizzas as a precautionary measure after pieces of fine wire were found in the flour and pizza dough at a third-party flour mill.

9) Finally, read my posts this week about a pair of restaurants coming to Oakland soon: Juhu Beach Club and The Cook and Her Farmer.

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.