Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mid-Week Menu: Off the Grid Comes to Emeryville, Phoenix Pastificio to Open Restaurant, and Oakland Chefs Duke It Out in Burger Derby

By Luke Tsai
Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 8:00 AM

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

1) After a soft launch last week, the new Off the Grid food truck gathering in Emeryville is having its grand opening today, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., behind Emeryville City Hall (on a section of Haven St., between Park Ave. and 40th St., that will be closed off to traffic for the event). The weekly four-truck event should be a boon to Emeryville’s mass of hungry office workers. According to proprietor Matt Cohen, this Off the Grid outpost will boast plentiful free parking in a parking lot adjacent to the space behind city hall. This week’s lineup: Mayo & Mustard, Hapa SF, Whip Out!, and Tandoori Chicken USA.

Off the Grid Emeryville (via Facebook)
  • Off the Grid Emeryville (via Facebook)
2) Phoenix Pastificio — a popular vendor at East Bay farmers’ markets, known for its fresh pastas, wickedly addictive olive bread, and my favorite black bottom cupcakes — will be opening a new brick-and-mortar restaurant at 1250 Addison St. in Berkeley. Berkeleyside reports that owners Carole and Eric Sartenaer plan to open in mid-July with an “Italian soul food” menu, featuring soups, salads, and pasta dishes. The Sartenaers are taking over the Cafe Zeste location, which is the same place they’ve been preparing their line of pastas and baked goods for the past seven years.

3) Two employees at the Grand Lake location of Wingstop (528 Lake Park Ave.) were shot and killed late Monday night. As of yesterday afternoon, one suspect had been arrested and the other was in the process of turning himself in, according to the Chronicle.

4) Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the family that runs Albany’s Zaki Kabob House (1101 San Pablo Ave.) is raising money to purchase the building that houses the restaurant; otherwise, the heirs of the original landlord (who died recently) plan to put it on the market. The Ayyad family is hoping to raise the entirety of the $700,000 asking price through the crowdfunding platform Fundable, which seems like a bit of a Hail Mary: As of Tuesday night, $100 had been pledged.

5) Next week, Oliveto (5655 College Ave., Oakland) will be hosting its annual seafood-themed Oceanic Dinners, from July 9 to 12, starting at 5:30 p.m. each night. The à la carte menu will include dishes like cioppino; Santa Barbara sea urchin spaghetti; gnocchi with house-smoked trout; charcoal-grilled octopus; and a selection of whole fish for diners to hand-pick.

The Plum Bar burger (via Facebook)
  • The Plum Bar burger (via Facebook)
6) There are less than two weeks left to vote in the Express’s Burger Derby, a month-long burger showdown between five Oakland restaurants: Luka’s Taproom, Disco Volante, Tribune Tavern, Grand Tavern, and Plum/Plum Bar — the current frontrunner. “Like” the photo of your favorite burger for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to the winning restaurant.

7) After 24 years, The Bread Workshop (1398 University Ave.), one of Berkeley’s early sustainability-minded bakeries, had its last day of business on June 30. “The reasons for a business’s demise are always complicated,” owner Bill Briscoe wrote on the bakery’s website, electing not to elaborate on his own reasons.

8) Over in Oakland’s Jack London neighborhood, Nido (444 Oak St.) continues to garner positive press: Food and Wine published chef Silvia McCollow’s recipe for shrimp-and-potato cakes in the magazine’s May issue. (Hat tip to @Oaklavore.)

9) Has this heat wave broken yet? If not, you might find this Chowhound discussion of East Bay restaurants with air conditioning pertinent.

10) Finally, we ate a whole bunch of croissants so you don’t have to ... unless you really want to. (It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.)

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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