Wingen Bakery opens new bistro, Bloom pizza launches in Oakland

by admin

“Can you recommend a new place to eat?” That’s the question Nosh contributors get the most, and it’s a good one — while we all have our beloved standbys, exploring a new restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Watch this space every week for the newest restaurants to try in Berkeley, Oakland and the rest of the East Bay. As always, tips and recommendations are welcomed at [email protected].

This spare, clean-lined new dining room in East Oakland has replaced the short-lived Blue Nile Xpress, and serves a similar menu of Eritrean and Ethiopian dishes, including vegetable combos, and meaty tibs and kitfo. Admas, 1910 Park Blvd. (between Wayne Place and 19th Street), Oakland

Rich, communal, Vietnamese-style hotpot can now be found in Alameda for lunch and dinner (“I finally don’t have to drive all the way to San Jose,” says one Yelp reviewer), with flavorful broths and ingredients distinct to that cuisine — sweet and sour notes, high-end meats, seafood, and Vietnamese herbs, spices and produce. Bacogai also offers spring rolls, vermicelli dishes and salads with banana blossom and roasted duck. There are options for vegans as well. Outdoor hotpot seating available. Bacogai, 2651 Blanding Ave., Suite E (at Broadway), Alameda

Uptown has a new fast-casual New York-style pizzeria in Bloom, featuring a small eat-in dining room with homey appeal. The shop sells 12- and 16-inch traditional thin-crust pies as well as wings, salads, calzones, and desserts such as cannoli and New York-style cheesecake. (Neighborhood locals might remember the former, short-lived SliceOak in the space, which is near Hopscotch.) Bloom, 1917 San Pablo Ave. (between William and 19th streets), Oakland

Nosh can’t help but to spread the word about this new way to enjoy Commis, chef James Syhabout’s fine-dining destination on Piedmont Avenue. The restaurant, which has two Michelin stars (and is the only starred restaurant in the East Bay), now offers a dedicated prix-fixe bar menu of four courses for $75, by reservation only, to be enjoyed at the bar. Wine pairings can be added for an additional charge. Reservations can be made for between one and four people on the restaurant’s website; Commis launched the new bar menu on Nov. 15. Commis Restaurant Bar Prix Fixe, 3859 Piedmont Ave. (between W MacArthur Boulevard and 40th Street), Oakland

Sliver pizzerias continue to take over the (very willing) East Bay, with the latest long-awaited opening now happening in Lafayette. The space is sunny and welcoming, with an airy, enclosed front patio and roomy indoor dining room. Whole 14” veg and vegan pizza pies include corn, potato, mushroom and fresh-sliced tomato versions on the current menu, with seasonal pizzas-of-the-day available by the whole, half and slice (plus sliver!). There are salads, shareable nibbles such as nachos and waffle fries, and a whole menu of various margaritas. This is the family-owned chain’s sixth location; new Slivers in Oakland and Fremont are up next. Sliver Pizzeria, 975 Moraga Rd., Lafayette

Not an opening, but a well-earned expansion — Wingen Bakery, a young spot beloved for so many reasons among the Livermore community, has grown into the adjacent space, upping both production and comfort at the bakery. Co-owner Bryan Wingen designed the newly renovated kitchen, glass-enclosed bread room and spillover seating in the new 1,200-foot space; the original interior now serves a bistro menu along with bakery fare, with brunch and lunch dishes such as French toast, biscuits and gravy, seasonal sandwiches and soups. Both Wingen kitchens are open six days a week. Notably, the bakery and bistro started as a cottage business from the Wingens’ home kitchen in 2020; married owners Bryan and Aimee Wingen (Homestead, Homeroom, Range Life) are longtime veterans of the Bay Area dining, baking and pastry scene. Wingen Bakery 2.0, 50 & 54 S Livermore Ave., Livermore

Nov. 17

A vegan Puerto Rican spread at Casa Borinqueña. Credit: Casa Borinqueña/Facebook

It’s not her long-anticipated opening quite yet, but Lourdes “Chef Lulu” Nau’s vegan Puerto Rican cooking has a temporary new home at Planted Table in Jack London Square while permits and other details get ironed out for her upcoming North Oakland brick-and-mortar at 6211 Shattuck Ave. Casa Borinqueña at Planted Table, 550 2nd St. (at Clay Street), Oakland

Halal burgers and “more” — including fried fish sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, tenders and combos — are on offer to go at this new Oakland counter spot near Lake Merritt, in the former Uarhi Taqueria. Halal Burgers and More, 134 14th St. (between Lakeside Drive and Madison Street), Oakland

Per our eagle-eyed readers and the Chronicle, Pho Tasty is a somewhat shrouded new Chinese-Vietnamese fusion spot inside the former Gecko Gecko/Happy Hooligans restaurant space in downtown Berkeley. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, including noodle soups, clay pot and rice dishes. Don’t mind the blacked-out windows — inside the ambience is welcoming and “eccentric,” according to one Yelper, a fun little escape. Pho Tasty, 2101 Milvia St. (at Addison), Berkeley

Shuttered-since-2020 (but still missed) Oakland pie shop Pietisserie is hosting a pop-up holiday shop at San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch (and another in Napa) for the next few weeks, serving its full menu through Dec. 24, 2022. Pietisserie at City Center Bishop Ranch, 6000 Bollinger Canyon Rd., San Ramon

Pink Cloud Tea & More’s charmingly packaged Korean-style sandwiches. Credit: Pink Cloud Tea & More

Another opening featuring “and more” in the title, in this case the “more” is an impressive array of Chinese jianbing, Korean-style egg and beef sandwiches, and desserts gathering almost as many fans as the tea, smoothies, lattes and other drinks (with many special toppings) at this new snack shop near UC Berkeley. (Look for the old Momo Island/Hot Cups space near Saigon Express.) Pink Cloud Tea & More, 2107 Addison St. (at Terminal Place), Berkeley

The E’ville Eye had the good word that Turkish baker Hatice Yildiz has quietly opened Simurgh Bakery in Emeryville. Yildiz’s fresh baklava, eggplant dolmas, honey cakes and many uniquely Turkish creations (including some gluten free offerings) get rave reviews at local farmers markets and from customers of her catering business, which she founded in Richmond in 2017. Try anything made with pistachios, or her larger lunch fare made with fresh phylo, breads and halal meats, including cevapi and bourek. The new storefront’s location has been a bit of a revolving door in recent years, but we have high hopes for this already well-known business and its new counter teeming with sweet and savory Turkish delights. Simurgh Bakery & Cafe, 4125 San Pablo Ave. (between 45th Street and Park Avenue), Emeryville

Chinese noodle chain Special Noodle, with two locations in the South Bay, has opened a branch of the restaurant at the Pacific East Mall in Richmond, serving soups and stone pot dishes, dumplings, stir fry and rice plates. Service is a mix of open seating and QR code ordering. Special Noodle Richmond, 3288 Pierce St., Richmond 

Super Slice Pizza

Brothers Omar and Sulaiman Esmatyar could not be more welcoming as owner-operators of new Super Slice Pizza, reviving what used to be Armadillo Pizza near the El Cerrito Plaza. Expect fast, affordable, New York-style pizza with traditional toppings in sizes that range from personal (14-inch) to party-friendly, 28-inch pizza pies. Web presence coming soon. Super Slice Pizza, 10180 San Pablo Ave. (between Central and Lincoln avenues), El Cerrito

When Nama Japanese Cuisine closed in July after 14 years in Oakland’s Dimond District, the kind owner hoped his past customers would support the new business coming to the space, and would help to “keep the area vibrant.” As promised, newcomer Tomsa Sushi has arrived, and it looks like it might be easy for folks to fulfill that wish. Lots of enthusiasm reported so far for the quality of sushi and service. Tomsa Sushi, 3400 Fruitvale Ave. (between Montana Street and MacArthur Boulevard), Oakland  

The Belgian fries and Brussels sprouts at Willie’s Kitchen. Credit: Willie’s Kitchen

Thanks to our readers, we note that chef Wilson Mendez, who worked his way up the kitchen at the former Luka’s Taproom, then pivoted to become a pop-up chef at Mad Oak and Ale Industries, has been operating Willie’s Kitchen out of the Aloha Club since September. “We are so lucky to have his talent in the neighborhood,” said one fan, who mentioned his Belgian style fries as a particular favorite. Willie’s also serves Korean-style chicken wings, burgers, churros, chicken sandwiches and barbecue dishes. Willie’s Kitchen, 954 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland

Nov. 11

Richmond has a new outdoor (heated!) community space for food, drink, wi-fi and family-friendly comfort in The Backyard, opened Nov. 4. The venue serves full breakfast, sandwiches (that’s its burger above) and tartines all day, as well as picnic-friendly fare such as burgers and loaded charcuterie and cheese boards. Curbside pickup is available, although customers who dine on site get to enjoy bocce, cornhole and other outdoor games. Expect live music and outdoor movies (as well as beer and wine) to come soon. The Backyard, 205 Cutting Blvd. (between South 2nd and South 3rd streets), Richmond

Treats from Boba Panda. Credit: Boba Panda

Sweet, family-owned, Berkeley tea shop Boba Panda shuttered a few years ago, and the building was subsequently gutted in a full retrofit. The boba shop’s owners kept telling us to sit tight, though, and now the patience has paid off — Boba Panda is freshly reopened in the same space; it remains adorable and mostly unchanged, just safer in an earthquake. Also, Boba Panda basically skipped the worst of the pandemic. Well played. Boba Panda, 1796 Shattuck Ave. (at Delaware), Berkeley 

Beyond The Creek had this reopening story with an unusual twist: Opened in Walnut Creek in 2019, Fremont-based kebob minichain De Afghanan closed this location in 2021 to make way for Japanese rice triangle chain Onigilly. Now De Afghanan has returned and reopened in the same space. Perhaps calling a restaurant “triumphant” crosses a line into personification — but it sure looks it, doesn’t it? Welcome back to Walnut Creek, De Afghanan! De Afghanan Kabob House, 1372 Locust St. (near Cypress), Walnut Creek  

POC-owned Kinfolx is a welcoming haven for coffee, wine, art and community. Thanks to Eater SF for the story, which tells us Kinfolx is only open on Fridays for now. Check for hours and events as the spot gathers momentum during its limited opening. Kinfolx,1951 Telegraph Ave. (between William and 19th streets), Oakland 

Nov. 4

El Cerrito has welcomed back yet another watering hole from pandemic hibernation with the reopening of San Pablo Avenue cocktail bar 514 Lounge. The bar opened in 2019, and was forced like so many indoor bars to go dark the following year. Hat tip to The Factory Bar and Richmond Standard for helping to spread the news of its relaunch at the end of October. 514 Lounge, 11236 San Pablo Ave. (between Madison and Potrero avenues), El Cerrito

Inside Champion’s Curry in Berkeley. Credit: Champion’s Curry/Facebook

The wait for this Japanese curry shop is over for Berkeley locals, as Champion’s Curry celebrated its grand opening on Nov. 1. The fast-casual spot at the base of the year-old Den student apartment complex features a roomy, industrial-ish interior, with a menu of rich Japanese curry over rice, katsu sandwiches, sides such as salads and fries, and — according to early customers — truly spicy, spicy curry options. Champion’s Curry is based out of Kanazawa, Japan, and has been in operation since 1961; this is the outfit’s third location in the U.S., with a fourth planned soon for Pasadena. Champion’s Curry, 2506 Channing Way (at Telegraph Avenue), Berkeley 

The Lavraki at Elia. Credit: Elia/Facebook

Elegant Greek restaurant Elia, based in Pleasanton, has opened a second location in downtown Walnut Creek. The expansion was first mentioned back in June by Beyond The Creek, who also had news of the opening this week. Elia serves fresh, seasonal Greek flavors — lovely dips, salads, seafood, lamb — with an upscale touch. Elia Walnut Creek, 1520 Locust St. (between Bonanza Street and Civic Drive), Walnut Creek  

Plenty of folks still miss Mexicali Rose, the family-owned Old Oakland landmark that fed the community for 91 years before closing in 2018. Oakland native and restaurateur Chris Rachal (Liege, M2) is among the nostalgic, which is why his new restaurant and gathering place in Mexicali Rose’s former location looks to preserve and build on the property’s history, including its pink exterior and interior murals.

Look to this profile from Nosh contributor Brandy Collins for some background on the new restaurant and community gathering spot, which celebrated its grand opening on Halloween. For The Culture, 701 Clay St. (at Seventh Street), Oakland

The chef special Singapore rice noodle. Credit: Noodle Dynasty

For those of us craving noodles, soups and other warm, nourishing fare, it’s an ideal time for new Chinese restaurant Noodle Dynasty to open on Telegraph Avenue, taking over the former Thai Noodle II. The restaurant is already being heralded by students and locals for its broad but well-done menu, generous portions and above-average, approachable Chinese cuisine, both for sit-down dining and take-out. Noodle Dynasty, 2426 Telegraph Ave. (between Haste Street and Channing Way), Berkeley

As quietly as West Coast Pizza closed up shop recently, newcomer Nova’s Pizza has tiptoed into its place. Parents, students, teenagers — expect similarly agreeable prices for pizzas such as the pesto with tomato and ricotta, or the “meat heaven,” featuring pepperoni, sausage, beef and bacon — and do check out the cheese bread. Note: Despite the leftover phone number and hold music from the former business, these are new recipes from new owners (with a friendly new staff). With hours until 1:00 a.m., it appears that late-night pizza dining remains alive and well in Berkeley. Nova’s Pizza, 1706 University Ave. (at McGee Avenue), Berkeley 

Comfortable, casual, stylish Sons of Liberty Alehouse, established in San Leandro since 2016, now boasts a second location in Livermore. On the restaurant menu are rich bar nibbles such as burrata salad made with fried Brussels sprouts and bacon; crispy baby back ribs lacquered with orange and soy; burgers; risotto; buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches, and other gastropubby fare, with selections for a range of diets (and a brunch menu on Sundays). There are about 15 rotating beers and ciders on tap, as well as a stout menu of cocktails and wines. Cheers to Diablo Dish for their report on the opening. Sons of Liberty Alehouse Livermore, 2327 First St. (between McLeod Street and S. Livermore Avenue), Livermore

The Xocolate Bar. Credit: The Xocolate Bar/Facebook

Solano Avenue’s 16-year-old jewel box of a chocolate shop has reopened for in-person customers after a pandemic dormancy, and celebrated its fresh start with a Dia de los Muertos party on Oct. 30. Xocolate vends (and also crafts) beautiful, handmade, organic chocolate confections, and the words alone on their menu are a pleasure: chocolate bars, bonbons, truffles, drinking chocolate, chocolate bark, tasting squares, candy bars, chocolate-dipped fruit and nuts. Go there or be square, and don’t miss the custom boxes. The Xocolate Bar, 1709 Solano Ave. (between Ensenada and Tacoma avenues), Berkeley  


Featured image: Loaves from Wingen Bakery Credit: Wingen Bakery

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