As always around these parts, this week was a busy one in the world of food. Importantly, we put together a list of some of the best pizza in the Bay Area. In addition to that, we took a look inside Black Cat, learned about a new 24th Street taproom, found out about the new restaurant coming to the Hotel Zeppelin, and saw that animal rights activists protested Chez Panisse.
Here's what else went down:
Perhaps most notably we learn via Inside Scoop that Ninebark, which opened to much acclaim in downtown Napa last fall and abruptly closed "temporarily" in July, apparently won't be reopening ever. What's more, the building it’s in, the historic Fagiani’s bar building, is up for sale, possibly to wine mogul Joey Wagner of Copper Cane Wine & Provisions, as a wine tasting concept spot.
In news of other change-ups, Eater reports that Oakland’s Toast Kitchen + Bar is getting switched over to a Texas-style taco joint. The new restaurant, which will have margaritas, will be called Austin. Owners Kristen Policy and Heather Sittig are aiming for an October 6 reopening.
Meanwhile, according to Inside Scoop, Omakase Restaurant Group (which is behind Omakase) just got a corporate chef. The Michelin-starred restaurant plans to launch a Japanese-style brunch menu in the coming months.
The Inner Richmond's newest place to chow down on dry pots is picking up steam, with Hoodline reporting that Celestial Flame has perfected its version of the variation on traditional hot pots since its March soft opening.
Lovers of the San Francisco classic the Presidio Social Club will be stoked to learn that owner Ray Tang is launching a new restaurant in the South Bay. Inside Scoop tells us that while the name is still up in the air, the vibe is not — expect something similar to the Presidio Social Club both in menu and ambiance.
Potrero Hill's Aperto has quietly gone on the market, SocketSite reports, for just under $300,000. Would-be restaurateurs take note, however, while that price does include the liquor license it doesn't include the actual building. You'll still need to pay rent on that.
The Tradesman, the two-year-old restaurant just off 20th Street in the Mission, will close. The owner told Inside Scoop that he is selling the location to another business, but declined to give specifics as to the reason for the closure, just that it's hard running a restaurant in SF. While the liquor license transfers, a series of pop-ups will be held in the restaurant space.
Chef Chris Cosentino of Cockscomb, meanwhile, is eyeing Portland for his next restaurant. As Inside Scoop notes, he broke the news on a local TV morning program up there. At present, details are light.
The new development in a former auto repair shop at 834-838 Divisadero will include a spot for the Boba Guys, Inside Scoop tells us. According to SocketSite, this is in addition to the second-floor space being occupied by Che Fico, the big Italian restaurant we’ve been hearing about for a year now.
The Inner Richmond just got a new Korean BBQ spot, Eater tells us. Dancing Bill focuses strictly on bulgogi, and opened in late August. They even have an all-you-can-eat bulgogi option!
Seven Stills, the craft distillery in the Bayview, has run into some planning trouble. Hooldline reports that their liquor license is in conflict with the neighborhood's planning code, and the two men behind the distillery are working to gather public support to get a special dispensation from the city.
In other news of troubles, the Castro's Zapata Mexican Grill is set to close next month due to problems with its lease. Hoodline informs us that the 20-year-old restaurant's owner couldn't get the building's owner to give him a long-term lease, and as such he will close up shop.
This Week In Reviews
For his midweek checkup, the Chronicle's Michael Bauer returns to 20th Street's Central Kitchen, which recently underwent an overhaul and got a new, ostensibly more casual menu. Bauer clearly takes pleasure in all the dishes he samples — specifically the salmon and a frozen blueberry dessert — but writes that the total may be less than the sum of its parts. The critic found that the varying entrees and appetizers "melded into each other" and ended up perhaps being too similar. Bauer notes that despite chef Thomas McNaughton's efforts to turn the restaurant into a neighborhood spot, its pricing and vibe is still that of a destination restaurant — a fact that the critic, naturally, appears fine with. Bauer gives it two and a half stars.
Mr. Bauer's Sunday review focuses on new Tenderloin supper club Black Cat, which SFist's own Caleb Pershan had some thoughts about earlier this week. Bauer paid his traditional three visits to the place, and he finds plenty to praise about the space itself and the ambiance, calling it a "stylish haven" and saying, "When entering the main dining room you’re in the world of Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck and other greats that blast from the speakers until the live entertainment starts later in the evening." But he finds that "the food turns out to be the least compelling element" of the place, ultimately garnering a dismal one and a half stars though he can sort of recommend the "salty" deviled eggs. All told: two stars, and he says you should probably just come for drinks and entertainment.
Peter Lawrence Kane of SF Weekly, meanwhile, treks his way over to Berkeley’s La Marcha. Opening with a soliloquy on his love for the food of Northern Spain, Kane dives into the casual restaurant's offerings — finding them approachable, affordable, and delicious. He loves the tortillitas de gambas, the patatas bravas, and calls the various paella options "the star of the show." He repeatedly mentions that the restaurant is a great date spot, although the acoustics may leave something to be desired (it's apparently loud). But loud is OK if that's the price for "a virtual guarantor of happiness," as Kane says of the menu. As one doesn't get too many guarantees in life, we think he'll be back.