Chef Alexander Alioto, former chef and partner of Seven Hills in San Francisco, has opened Plin in San Francisco's Mission District. Alioto serves mainly Italian seafood and handmade pasta dishes at this neighborhood restaurant. Chuck Furuya and Alioto's father, Nunzo Alioto Jr., is in charge of the wine program, which features wines from Nunzo's own cellar. Plin also serves cocktails made with hand-pressed juices and house-made infusions. In addition to seafood and pasta, the menu features a host of vegetarian options, meat, game and poultry. Alioto's mother, Joanne Alioto, oversaw the design of the restaurant's interior, which has a warm, contemporary feel and incorporate earth and sea elements. Plin, 280 Valencia St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-655-9510.
Expanding from southern California is Napoléon's Macarons, with locations set to open in two Bay Area Westfield mall properties this fall. The pâtisserie specializes in the classic French treat, but also takes it in new directions --- covered in chocolate, for example, or sandwiched with ice cream. Look for it in the Westfield San Francisco Centre and Santa Clara's Westfield Valley Fair beginning in late August or early September.
Townie restaurant and bar has opened on University Avenue in downtown Berkeley, offering dinner until midnight six nights a week. Executive chef is 27-year-old Dana Ryan, a native Bostonian, who has worked at State Bird Provisions, Gather and RN74. Owner and manager is Nima Shokat of popular Berkeley local hangout Missouri Lounge. The restaurant features seasonal small plates and a strong cocktail focus, as well as 16 draft beers and an international wine list. The dining room seats 75, with several communal tables. Free parking is available in the rear of the building. Dinner Tues.-Sun. Townie, 1799 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94703, 510-356-4903.
Michel Bistro is a new Provencal-style brasserie/gastropub in Oakland's Grand Lake district from the team behind Amelie wine bars in San Francisco and New York City, Germain Michel and Samie Didda, together with Jean-Michel Fabregon. Executive chef is Anthony Salguero (Plumed Horse, Commonwealth, Saison). The 60-seat restaurant and full bar features typical French brasserie cuisine and a drink focus on pastis. Brunch highlights are oysters and savory French fare such as croques monsieur. Dinner Tues.-Sun., Brunch Sat.-Sun. Michel Bistro, 3343 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, CA 94610, 510-836-8737.
Michael Mina has opened not one but two new restaurants inside 101 California Street in San Francisco's Financial District, both in partnership with chef Ken Tominaga of Sonoma County's Hana Japanese Restaurant. The first is Pabu, a refined, modern Japanese izakaya and sushi bar. Featuring an atmosphere both rustic and urbane, the restaurant has a full bar, 22-seat sushi bar and omakase experience from chef Tominaga and young sushi chef Yoji Harada (Pabu Baltimore), and a warm dining room built to welcome sophisticated FiDi diners. Lunch at Pabu is served Monday through Friday, and dinner nightly. The Ramen Bar offers a fast-casual Tokyo-style ramen experience for lunch Monday through Friday, with some outdoor terrace seating. Pabu & The Ramen Bar, 101 California St., San Francisco, CA 94111, Pabu: 415-668-7228; The Ramen Bar: 415-684-1570.
Big 4 Restaurant in The Scarlet Huntington got a refresh under new owners the Puccini Group, and has a new chef in Kevin Scott (Jardinière, Hog Island Oyster Co., Paragon Restaurant). Longtime fans should find the spot updated but mostly unchanged --- the piano, deep booths and white tablecloths remain. Hog Island Oyster Co. reopened in expanded digs within the Ferry Building, taking over the adjacent, former Ferry Plaza Seafood space. The roomier interior features double the seating and a new, large oyster bar. On the brand-new list, Trou Normand has caused quite a stir since its March unveiling. Run by Bar Agricole's team, the 50ish-seat bar and restaurant sits within the 1925 Pacific Telephone building at 140 New Montgomery, also home to an upcoming project from Aziza's Mourad Lahlou. Chef is Salvatore Cracco (Adesso, Bar Agricole), cuisine leans country French, and charcuterie is a strong focus (as are cocktails and trou Normand spirits). On the fun side, the Mission District's new Urban Putt caters to a hip, mini-golf-loving crowd, with 14 indoor holes, cocktails and American food.
Long a Haight Street favorite, Dave McLean's Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery expanded this spring with a brand-new brewing facility and barbecue restaurant, Smokestack, in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood south of AT&T Park. Comprising an 80-seat corner of the new, 11,000-square-foot brewery, Smokestack features between 12-15 Magnolia brews on tap, including cask conditioned ales, as well as predominantly American whiskeys, boilermakers and cocktails, and barbecue under the vigilant care of Namu Gaji's executive chef Dennis Lee. The kitchen includes two wood-fired smokers and two grill pits, with a selection of seven different meats offered nightly. Additional sides include house-made pickles and Lee's famed family kimchi recipe. Food is served counter-style and by the pound. Look for lunch in the coming weeks. Dinner nightly. Smokestack, 2505 Third St., San Francisco, CA 94107, 415-864-7468.
Piattini has opened in the Mission District, featuring small plates of Italian cuisine from Venice-born chef Gino Assaf (Ristorante Ideale, Gondola and Specchio in San Francisco). The dining room seats 90 and features a modern design --- communal table in the lounge, wood-topped bar, cement floor, sculpture, art and chalk-written prose on the ceiling. Italian movies are screened nightly above the open kitchen. Beverages include 50 Italian wines with roughly 25 by the glass, and a bar menu that includes imported Italian beers. Small plates run from $4-$12, and include bites such as baccala mantecato, wild boar meatballs and ricotta gnocchi. Neapolitan-style pizzas as well as heartier mains are also available, including cioppino. Look for all-day happy hour specials Monday through Thursday. Dinner nightly. Piattini, 2331 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110, 415-956-5528.
Quince Pops Up Via “curATE”
During Quince's temporary closure, diners can enjoy Michael Tusk's cuisine via "curATE," a pop-up Quince dining series hosted at nearby Hedge Gallery, featuring a reception, five-course tasting menu and new art each week curated by additional local galleries. For location, tickets and information visit www.sfcurate.com
Quince Closed for Renovations July 25-September 19
Chef-owners Michael and Lindsay Tusk have temporarily closed Quince restaurant for renovations as of July 25. Changes led by designer Douglas Durkin will include a new sheltered entryway crafted in glass and metal; an elegant "Champagne bar and lounge" with tableside cocktail preparations, Champagne and caviar service and dedicated full dining options; two new private dining rooms; a renovated kitchen with added Chef's Counter seating, as well as new furnishings, art and décor throughout the dining rooms. According to Lindsay Tusk, the improvements will help create, "a more intimate, warm dining environment," while enhancing comfort. Quince, 470 Pacific Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-775-8500.
Manresa Closed Due To Fire
Chef-proprietor David Kinch's Los Gatos restaurant Manresa has closed due to extensive fire damage. The blaze reportedly began early in the morning on Monday, July 7, 2014. No one was hurt, but structural damage includes much of the roof and one side of the restaurant. "What happened in the early morning hours [on July 7th] was a setback," said Kinch in an official statement. "Manresa was a restaurant but it was much more than that. It is a family to us, one of shared vision, and of the pleasures and conviviality of the table, a gathering place of friends and family to share." Kinch thanked the Santa Clara County Fire Department for their quick response, and members of Manresa's local and international community of friends, guests and colleagues for their support. "We believe our mission as a team and our small contribution to the industry is much larger than this setback," Kinch continued. "We will be back, not just in this building but in many other ways." Manresa, 320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030, 408-354-4330.
Acquerello Celebrates 25 Years, Welcomes Back Alumni
Heralded alumni of Acquerello's kitchen will return this summer for a series of six tribute dinners celebrating the restaurant's 25th anniversary. The first dinner featured Liza Shaw in tandem with Acquerello's executive chef Suzette Gresham, as well as pastry chef Tim Nugent and baker Michael Shwe. Portions of the night's proceeds benefitted Shwe's nonprofit New Door Ventures, offering job training for disconnected youth. Future anniversary dinners will occur throughout June and July, featuring chefs such as Massimiliano Conti, Kim Alter and Nathan Lockwood. For reservations call 415-567-5432, and for a complete list of dinners visit the special events page at www.acquerello.com. Acquerello, 1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109, 415-567-5432.
Gather in Berkeley has a new executive chef. Charis Wahl has taken over from owner Sean Baker, who departed Gather's kitchen to focus on his new San Francisco project, Verbena. Wahl was opening sous chef at Gather and rose to chef de cuisine. She has also worked at Rivoli Restaurant and Ozumo. Gather, 2200 Oxford St., Berkeley, CA 94704, 510-809-0400.
Kevin Tanaka has been made restaurant chef of Navio at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, replacing Sean Eastwood. Tanaka, who started as a kitchen intern with the restaurant in 2005 and quickly moved up the ranks, is a native of Hawaii, and calls his cooking, "French meets Pacific Rim, with a California farmer's market influence." He plans to continue the restaurant's high standards for seasonal coastal cuisine met with farm-fresh ingredients. Navio, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, One Miramontes Pt. Rd., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, 650-712-7040.
Chef-owner Henry Vortriede has announced the upcoming closure of his ten-year-old Oakland restaurant Montclair Bistro, slated for the end of September. The quaint property has been sold to two fellow Oakland chefs, Joe Schnell and Tracey Belock (Tribune Tavern), who plan to reopen it as Chowhaus in the fall. Montclair Bistro, 6118 Medau Pl., Oakland, CA 94611, 510-482-8282.
Loretta Keller's nine-year-old Coco500 closed after dinner service on July 9, 2014. The elegant little SoMa small plates restaurant was beloved for much more than its cocktail program and deep-fried green beans; Keller's cuisine (as at Bizou, her previous restaurant in the same location) stayed ahead of, and often sparked, trend. In a stroke of symmetry, Keller has turned the space over to another strong female restaurant team --- chef Jennifer Puccio and restaurateur Anna Weinberg, who together with Weinberg's husband James Nicholas own Marlowe, Park Tavern and The Cavalier. Marlowe will move into the new, roomier location in the fall of 2014, and remains open for business until then. Keller's remaining San Francisco restaurant is Seaglass inside the Exploratorium. Coco500, 500 Brannan St., San Francisco, CA 94107, no phone.
It's time for San Francisco to say goodbye to the romance and luxe tasting menus of 28-year destination restaurant Fleur de Lys, scene of countless proposals and anniversaries over the decades. Chef Hubert Keller and his wife and partner Chantal shuttered the restaurant after dinner service on June 28, 2014. Chef Keller's youthful dynamism (a regular media personality, he is also an enthusiastic live DJ) always provided charming contrast to Fleur de Lys' opulent, tented ambience --- but it was that same sense of showmanship that made his new French cuisine sparkle, and why the restaurant continued to flourish even after a devastating fire and total revamp in 2002. We look forward to whatever Keller has next up his sleeve. San Francisco's Burger Bar, Burger Bar Las Vegas and Fleur by Hubert Keller, also in Las Vegas, remain open. Fleur de Lys, 777 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94109, no phone.
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