This week we got the news that Adriano Paganini, the prolific restaurateur behind Starbelly, Beretta, Super Duper, and Belga, among others, is taking over the Betelnut space on Union Street. We also learned about the wonders of deep-frying In-N-Out burgers from Napa chef Sean O'Toole, and found out that Central Kitchen will be closing for a two-week overhaul tomorrow, reopening July 21. Here's what else has been happening in the food scene.
First we have an update on Nomica, the izakaya-ish spinoff of Sausalito's acclaimed Sushi Ran that we learned last year was headed into the former Pesce/2223 space at 2223 Market in the Castro. Via Eater we get confirmation that this will not be a sushi spot, and the Japanese word "nomica" actually means "drinking house." You can expect a focus on Awamori, a distilled rice spirit from Okinawa that is basically like higher proof sake. And they've got a chef with an impressive resume heading the kitchen, Hiroo Nagahara, who had been Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine in Chicago. They're aiming for an August opening, so stay tuned for more.
In Cole Valley, popular bistro Zazie is planning an across-the-street spinoff, as Hoodline reports, in the former Cole Garage at 930 Cole. Owner Jennifer Piallat says the restaurant, which will require a rezoning, would feature favorite items from the Zazie menu, and would perhaps ease the wait times at brunch, but right now she's saying there won't be a liquor license of any kind. It will be sharing the space with an urgent care center and a yoga studio.
Dabba, a new Indian-Mexican-Caribbean fusion spot, debuts on Monday at 71 Stevenson Street downtown, and as Inside Scoop reports, it's a directly inspired cousin to 27-year-old Sausalito restaurant Avatar's which touts on its website "purveyors of ethnic confusions since 1989." Owner Andy Mercy, a tech entrepreneur, is an Avatar's regular and thought the downtown SF lunch crowd deserved their own version. It will be a fast-casual setup similar to Chipotle, with diners able to select meats in fillings for their own version of Avatar's Punjabi burrito, including things like Caribbean jerk pork and lamb curry. Dabba opens July 11, but they're doing a brief preview right now (Friday) until 6 p.m. if you want to check it out before everyone else. Eater has some photos here.
Also as Eater tells us, the space at 2323 Polk Street that was most recently Reverb and before that Verbena, and the Rex Café looks to be becoming a Mexican spot from the family behind Andalé Mexican Family Kitchen, the chain that started in Los Gatos and now has fast-casual outposts at SFO and the Westfield food court. No word on whether this will be a higher end sort of affair, but they do promise an extensive list of mezcals.
Inside Scoop reports, popular quinoa bowl automat Eatsa is expanding to Berkeley, to 2334 Telegraph Avenue, at some point in the fall.
Meanwhile the Chronicle's Jonathan Kauffman, following on the opening of Corridor last week, questions whether this trend toward fast casual is such a good thing for diners, despite the fact that it may be economically better for restaurant owners.
You know how we told you a couple weeks back about Woods Island Club, the new Treasure Island taproom and adult playground, complete with beach, from Woods Beer Co.? Well it opens tomorrow, July 9, and Eater has photos.
And much like Zagat used to every year in its local guide, Yelp says that SF’s best restaurant is Gary Danko, according to Yelp ratings. As Business Insider reports, this is on a national list of the highest rated restaurants, and favorite dishes include the roasted Maine lobster, and the foie gras.
This Week In Reviews
The Weekly's Pete Kane checks out Laughing Monk Brewery in the Bayview, saying that while "The tricky part is getting there" (it took 50 minutes on the T from Powell Station), the house brews are nicely varied and interesting, and "it's fun to go spelunking among the joint's dozen or so taps."
Also, Kane reviews Oakland's new fast-food spot from chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, LocoL, a review that necessitated a retraction/apology because of a reference he made to teenagers of color making the place feel overly loud. As for the food, he loves the quesadillas (called "foldies"), and says they serve the best veggie burger he's ever had. But, they may be "overthinking the burger buns," which were created by Tartine's Chad Robertson.
The Chronicle's Anna Roth checks out the two-month-old Atwater Tavern, in the spot formerly home to Jelly's, and while she says the place "has a lot going for it including a large bayside patio, walking proximity to AT&T Park, and dollar oysters at happy hour," the Santa Maria-style barbecue they serve "leaves room for improvement."
And for his Sunday review, Michael Bauer was up in Napa checking out Miminashi, a new Japanese-inspired spot from former Oenotri chef-partner Curtis Di Fede. He loves the design and the chicken-focused (yakitori) menu, as well as several salads, traditional dishes like beef gyoza and chicken karaage, and mains like roasted squab (similar to one at Oenotri) and the Snake River Farms zabuton which he says is "one of the best beef dishes I’ve had in some time." He's less in love with the ramen offerings, though, and the donburi. But in the end, three big stars.