Mid-Week Menu: Uptown Openings, Berkeley’s Belli, and an Array of Alice Waters News



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

1) First up, Berkeleyside brings us the story of My Chan and Kim Phuong, owners of a Chinese vegetarian restaurant in North Berkeley called Vegi Food. After 28 years at their current location, the couple fears for the future of their business, as the building that houses the Vine Street restaurant has a new owner who wants to perform a seismic upgrade and, perhaps, replace Chan and Phong with more lucrative tenants.

2) Among the many stories coming out of last week’s SF Chefs festival, Bay Area Bites has one centered on a familiar face for East Bay fans of Ethiopian food: Cafe Colucci owner Fetlework Tefferi. Tefferi teamed with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson (of Top Chef Masters fame) to demonstrate a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony — something visitors to the Grand Lake Farmers’ Market may have had a chance to experience.

Lamb chops that might be on the menu at Duende (via the restaurants website).
  • Lamb chops that might be on the menu at Duende (via the restaurant's website).
3) Some previews of new restaurants coming to Oakland, in and around the Uptown ’hood: Loring Cafe, a Minnesota export offering “bohemian luxe fine dining” (37 Grand Ave.); Oliveto alum Paul Canales’ ambitious Duende (468 19th St.; construction photos courtesy of Inside Scoop), and a restaurant called Township (1542 Broadway), from the founder of an Oakland-based urban farm. Loring Cafe and Duende are both slated to open in the fall; we're still waiting for more information about Township.

4) Diablo Dish has the scoop on Belli, a new Italian restaurant coming to Downtown Berkeley, next door to Comal. Chef and co-owner Paul Oprescu is a former Eccolo intern who wants the centerpiece of his menu to be a rotating list of ravioli. He’s got recipes for a whopping 150 different versions: “I want to be to raviolis what Pizzaiolo was to pizza.”

5) According to Tablehopper, Haven has started serving Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. — it’s $25 per person for a family-style meal. Last week’s offerings included strawberry pop tarts, braised bacon, slow-poached eggs, and biscuits.

Alice Waters
  • Alice Waters
6) Inside Scoop reports that Chez Panisse grand dame Alice Waters and the Hyatt hotel conglomerate have entered into a partnership to provide healthy, organic children’s meals at all Hyatt hotels in the US. Waters herself is designing the menus and working with Hyatt to source local ingredients.

7) In other Alice Waters news, Obama Foodarama (a blog about White House food initiatives) recounted the story President Obama told about the junk-food-only diet of one of his top aides — and how said aide was “traumatized” by a vegetable-heavy fundraising dinner that had been prepared by Waters. (Hat tip to Eater for the find.)

8) Finally, Waters herself won’t be in attendance, but a group of Chez Panisse staff and alum are planning a “gourmet global diplomacy” trip to Cuba this December. The delegation will include current Chez Panisse downstairs chef Jerome Waag, Pizzaiolo’s Charlie Hallowell, and Acme Bread’s Steve Sullivan. Berkeleyside has the story.

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.