When Jen Biesty and Tim Nugent left their previous gigs at an Italian restaurant to open their own place in Oakland, they made a conscious decision to look toward Spain, Greece, and North Africa — and not Italy — for inspiration. The food is very loosely based on what you might find at a Spanish tapas bar: traditional small plates such as fried olives and Catalán tomato bread (a delicious rendition), but also dishes with Greek and North African spicing, and original creations, like fried “sausage-sage leaves.” If Shakewell has a signature dish, it would have to be Biesty’s take on paella, which is non-traditional enough that she didn’t even want to call it that — instead, the menu features three or four “bombas,” named after the Spanish rice varietal. Cooked in ceramic casuelas in the restaurant’s wood-burning oven, these are exceedingly moist (almost soupy) and flavorful rice dishes.
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Cocktail hour with limited bar menu Tue.-Sun., from 4-5:30 p.m. No reservations for weekend brunch.