A casual Italian restaurant has opened in the Outer Richmond. Called Fiorella and headed up by owner Boris Nemchenok (Uva Enoteca, and New York's Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria), who grew up in that neighborhood, and chef-partner Brandon Gillis (Brooklyn's Franny's), the 40-seat restaurant offers fresh pastas, pizza, crostini and antipasti, as well as Italian wine varietals from boutique Italian and domestic producers. Fiorella, 2339 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94121, 415-340-3049.
The East Bay's destination property the Claremont Hotel is now Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel, the newest addition to the Fairmont family that includes the Fairmont San Francisco, The Plaza in New York, Fairmont Banff Springs and London's The Savoy. The new ownership comes with a revealing of updates and careful restoration to the 100-year-old property, including new guest bathrooms and other updates to the 276 guestrooms, new carpets, furnishings and art, and a new brasserie called Antoinette featuring Dominique Crenn as consultant. According to a press release, Crenn's restaurant would join the hotel's three other restaurant and lounge properties, so Meritage at the Claremont would remain. Antoinette, 41 Tunnel Rd., Berkeley, CA 94705, 510-843-3000, 800-551-7266.
Look for Okane, a new izakaya and sushi spot, near the Design District in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood. The petite Townsend Street restaurant and four-seat sushi bar aims to offer an authentic, traditional and welcoming Japanese izakaya experience, complete with ingredients flown in from Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market. It comes from the owner of Omakase, Kash Feng, and consulting chef Shin Aoki of Kaigetsu in Menlo Park. Japanese saké and beer and a small, select wine list will comprise drinks. Okane, 669 Townsend St., San Francisco, CA 94103, 415-865-9788.
Fogo de Chão's 40th international location brings traditional Brazilian “churrasco” style dining to San Francisco’s SoMa district. A horde of Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs artfully twirl between tables, carving sizzling cuts of fire-roasted meats onto the plates of eager diners. Fogo de Chão
David Kinch (Manresa) has opened New Orleans-inspired restaurant and bar The Bywater. Located just down the street from Manresa in Los Gatos, the small, casual dining enclave features the cuisine of chef David Morgan (New Orleans' Restaurant August, Cyrus). The Bywater, 532 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030, 408-560-9639.
Restaurateur Gabriela Cámara of Mexico City's Contramar has opened Cala near Hayes Valley in San Francisco. The white-tablecloth Mexican restaurant features concrete walls and floors and a chic, industrial vibe. The focus is on coastal Mexican cuisine and craft cocktails, and there is Mexican brunch on Sundays. In November, Cámara also launched an alley taqueria, Tacos Cala, adjacent to the restaurant that is open weekdays for lunch. Cala is Cámara's first U.S. endeavor. Cala, 149 Fell St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-660-7701.
Left Bank Chef de Cuisine Marcon Named a Maître Cuisinier
Congratulations to chef de cuisine Fabrice Marcon of Left Bank brasserie in Larkspur for being named a Maître Cuisinier de France, an international honor referencing the winner's efforts to "preserve and spread the French culinary arts." Marcon joins two other chefs connected with Left Bank brasserie in the distinction: Roland Passot and Joel Guillon. Additional Bay Area Maîtres include Laurent Manrique and Xavier Salomon (Navio). Left Bank, Blue Rock Inn, 507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA 94939, 415-927-3331.
Alfred's Steakhouse Taken Over by Daniel Patterson Group
A San Francisco classic since 1928, Alfred's Steakhouse is about to get a makeover. Currently closed for renovations, the steakhouse --- owned by the Petri family since the '70s --- has been taken over by the ever-growing Daniel Patterson Group; its properties include Alta CA, Haven, Coi and Aster, among others. The new owners hope to preserve the iconic steakhouse's historic look and feel. Look for an early 2016 reopening. Alfred's Steakhouse, 659 Merchant St., San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-781-7058.
Monday Family Dinners at Terrapin Crossroads
Terrapin Crossroads serves a prix-fixe family dinner every Monday night from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., featuring varying specials such as fish ‘n’ chips, taco, pasta or pizza dinners meant to be shared. Prices differ for adults and children, and there are à la carte draft beer or house wine options for an additional $5. The casual Marin County restaurant and live music venue is owned by Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, and known for crowd-pleasing seasonal cuisine. Terrapin Crossroads, 100 Yacht Club Dr., San Rafael, CA 94901, 415-524-2773.
Farallon has a new executive chef in Jason Ryczek, a Waterbar vet originally from southern California, who also counts Artisan House and Red Pearl Kitchen among the kitchens on his résumé. Alongside chef-owner Mark Franz, Ryczek aims to up the level of cuisine at this landmark Union Square restaurant, which, despite its haute-seafood niche and dramatic, fine dining atmosphere, has undergone ups and downs since its opening in 1997. Along with nightly dinner, Farallon's nightly happy hours and elaborate raw bar will remain. Farallon, 450 Post St., San Francisco, CA 94102, 415-956-6969.
Daniel Patterson has stepped down as executive chef of Coi, relinquishing the role to Matthew Kirkley (L2O). The North Beach destination for transformational California cuisine will continue to be owned by DPG. Coi, 373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, 415-393-9000.
BayWolf shuttered at the end of August 2015, but executive chef Louis Le Gassic hasn't traveled far. Le Gassic is now executive chef of Oakland's The Terrace Room, an under-the-radar, smart-casual enclave tucked inside The Lake Merritt Hotel. Set in a historic Art Deco, glass-enclosed room with dramatic lake views, The Terrace Room is also known for its live music, including live jazz with weekend brunch. Le Gassic's cuisine is New American with local, organic and sustainable ingredients. Look for new dishes coq au vin, short ribs and Liberty Ranch duck à l'orange on his dinner menu. Lunch & Dinner Mon.-Fri., Brunch Sat.-Sun. The Terrace Room, 1800 Madison St., Oakland, CA 94612, 510-903-3771.
LarkCreekSteak inside the Westfield San Francisco Centre has closed. The fine steakhouse dining experiment located on the upper level of the shopping center was a surprisingly worthy destination for years after its opening in 2006, but a recent lull in business led to its closure. We have good memories from there and are sad to see it go. Cupola Pizzeria next door, also founded by the Lark Creek group, remains open. LarkCreekSteak, Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103, no phone.
Local Mission Eatery closed after almost six years of business. Local Mission Eatery, 3111 24th St., San Francisco, CA 94110, no phone.
After 28 years in the Napa Valley, charming Tra Vigne's last night of service was December 20, 2015. Sister restaurant Pizzeria Tra Vigne will remain open. The St. Helena property has been claimed by the team at The Restaurant at Meadowood. Chef Christopher Kostow and director Nathaniel Dorn hope to open a "celebratory and casual" dining experience, still unnamed, in the storied property, and most details are still forthcoming. Kostow and Dorn's work at The Restaurant at Meadowood will continue unabated. The new project will debut in 2016. Tra Vigne, 1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574, no phone.
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