Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mid-Week Menu: Divino and Somerset Reboot, Oliveto and Wente Do Tomatoes

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 7:00 AM

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

1) Berkeley’s Divino (1401 University Ave.), the seasonal/local Italian restaurant that opened earlier this year (and that I reviewed favorably in May), is closed temporarily and has been for about a week now — the current answering machine message alludes to an October 1 reopening date. Co-owner Marco Polo Garbarino confirmed via email that the restaurant is undergoing some sort of reinvention or change in concept. Details will be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.

Fried risotto balls at Divino.
  • Fried risotto balls at Divino.
2) Also closed, but on a permanent basis: Rockridge’s Somerset. Inside Scoop reports that owner Gary Rizzo, who also owns the renovated Kwik Way on Lakeside Dr., is working on a new restaurant called Destino, at 3909 Grand Ave. (in the space that formerly housed Taste of Joy and, before that, La Taza de Café).

3) Diablo Dish has an update on the expansion of the Charlie Hallowell empire to a former nail salon (3307 Grand Ave.) across the street from Boot and Shoe Service. That restaurant, dubbed Penrose & Company Fine Meats & Spirits, will be bar-centric, but will also feature meat, vegetables, and flatbreads cooked on a wood-fired plancha, The Dish reports.

4) According to Diablo Dish, a new restaurant is coming to the former Water Lounge space at 5634 College Ave. in Rockridge, but details are sparse: San Francisco chef, maybe a French bistro concept.

5) Meanwhile, Bartavelle (1603 San Pablo Ave.) — the coffee and wine bar set to take the place of the already-long-lamented Cafe Fanny — should be opening any day now. We haven’t heard an official announcement, but the restaurant’s Facebook page has been saying “ASAP” for a couple of weeks and announced that this past Sunday was the last day for the temporary coffee cart that has been stationed outside.

6) On Friday, September 7, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Northern California Beer Festival will be hosting a beer dinner in Jack London Square featuring a number of local chefs and breweries. On the food side, the participants will include À Côté, Chop Bar, Miss Pearl’s, and Picán. Tickets are $95, and the proceeds from the event will benefit St. Vincent de Paul’s Kitchen of Champions culinary training program and GO Great Oakland Public Schools.

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7) Oakland’s CommonWealth Cafe & Pub, still on the mend after a July fire shut the restaurant down, has been hosting a series of pop-up dinners in the meantime. The next event will take place at Hawker Fare on Sunday, September 9. The six-course beer-paired menu will include such favorites as the CommonWealth’s Scotch Egg with Curried Ketchup and its Shepherd’s Pie with Heinz Baked Beanz. Beer pairings will be provided by Linden Street Brewery. Tickets for the dinner are $55 each, with three available seatings (6:30, 7:30, and 8:30). (Hat tip to SFoodie.)

8) Also on Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Alameda’s Rock Wall Wine Company (2301 Monarch St.) will present a “Food Truck Frenzy” — part of an ongoing series the winery claims is the largest food truck event in the East Bay. This time around about a dozen trucks will take part, including Fist of Flour, Munch India, Streatery, and Suzie Q’s Lunch Box (see the full list here). Tickets are $5 in advance ($10 at the door).

9) We’re heading into the sweet spot here in the Bay Area as far as the local tomato season is concerned — when the tomatoes are good enough that you can eat them straight out of your farmers’ market basket, no adornment necessary. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that a number of restaurants are putting out fancy-schmancy tomato-focused menus this time of year. Here are two: From September 10-16, The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards (5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore) will be serving three-course prix-fixe tomato menus for lunch ($29, dinner ($49), and Sunday brunch ($29), featuring heirloom tomatoes from the restaurant’s on-site garden.

Finally, Oliveto’s annual tomato extravaganza will take place the evenings of September 18-21. Tomatoey goodness will include a “carpaccio” of three heirloom tomato varietals; spit-roasted, pancetta-wrapped rabbit loin with fried green tomatoes; and tomato-braised beef short ribs. Reservations are definitely recommended.

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.

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