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The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.

This week's tablehopper: happy, merry.

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Is that Santa’s sleigh? Nope, it’s a Tronco di Natale (yule log) from Rulli! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy. I’m sure a bunch of you have already left the office, and many are schlepping to airports and spending time in security lines and short-term parking lots (my sympathies). I’m getting ready to do some serious battle, excuse me, holiday shopping tonight at Macy’s; wish me luck. Am saving a trip to BevMo for the end of the night—trust, this is strategic.

Attention shoppers. Did you catch that holiday gift guide I ran on Tuesday? Here you go. Need book ideas? Pete Mulvihill from Green Apple Books has you covered. And just in case you have any last-minute shopping for the gourmand or stylish person in your life (or hopefully both), don’t forget you can swing by The New Black’s holiday pop-up that I curated through tomorrow! There are tablehopper vintage T-shirts, and last-minute shopping and stocking stuffers from Jarred, INNA Jam, Socola Chocolates, Nana Joes Granola, and more. 1999 Bryant St. at 18th St., 10am-6pm through December 22nd.

So check this out. It ends up tablehopper Tuesday happens to fall on Christmas and New Year’s Day, so guess who decided to take some time off? Yes, moi! I am going dark on December 25th and January 1st. I actually have some longer pieces I’ve been trying to find the time to write, so am going to focus on those instead, am excited. It’s also why you’re getting a couple news tidbits today before I sign off. The hopper will be back in your inbox on Friday January 4th, and full time with news on Tuesday January 8th. So publicists, restaurant and bar owners, and anyone with a holiday event you want me to promote: please hold back on that email, ‘cause mama is going dark!

All right dear readers, thanks so much for all your support this past year. I am always so grateful for your kind words, hot tips, and shared enthusiasm for all things delicious in this wonderful city. Remember to be nice and tip big this holiday season—the restaurant and bar industry is working hard through the holiday so you can enjoy yours. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and happy holidays—and a very happy New Year. Let’s do it up in style, with gratitude and grace.

With love,
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Dec 21, 2012

First Look at Ramen Shop in Rockridge

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The front bar area. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The counter dining area. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Pottery by Jessica Niello. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Remember me? The sign from the OPENrestaurant series. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Now due to open on Friday January 4th is ~RAMEN SHOP~, the new spot opening on College Avenue in the former Tachibana Sushi Bar space in Rockridge. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, the project is from Sam White (previously maître d’ at Chez Panisse and a founder of OPENrestaurant), with partners Jerry Jaksich (he lived in Japan for six years, working in ramen and yakitori places, in addition to some higher-end Michelin-rated spots) and Rayneil De Guzman (who worked at Chez for nine years, and also at Café Rouge).

Their spin on ramen is going to be very ingredient-based, using seasonal produce and top-notch products like Llano Seco pork (there’s a rotisserie in the kitchen, where they will be spit-roasting the pork instead of braising it for the chashu). The menu will feature three kinds of broths (light: shoyu, medium: miso, and heavy: tonkotsu), plus a vegetarian version. Noodles will be housemade with a machine brought over from Japan, the first of its kind west of the Mississippi! Right now they are still fine-tuning the noodles, trying different flours (like from Community Grains, Central Milling in Utah, and Riverdog Farm), and finding the right balance of the wheat’s flavor.

Some ramen toppings being tasted and tried right now are a variety of mushrooms (chanterelles, porcini, and morels), sautéed nettles from the wok (they have a double wok station in the kitchen) with tonkotsu broth, and crab miso with puntarelle. Yup, seasonality in effect. There will also be appetizers, like fish tartare or fried smelts, and salads, like chicory-persimmon.

The front of the 50-seat space is dominated by a bar area, which is where Christa Manolo (previously Beretta) will be holding court with her cocktails (look for some special offerings from St. George Sprits, and the team ponied up for a Kold-Draft machine for quality ice). The bar is made from raw steel with nosing made from beautiful redwood. There will also be excellent wine selections (cohort Jonathan Waters from Chez Panisse will be helping with the list) and beers (Magnolia, Mr. Tam pale ale, Calicraft, and Dying Vines). Need a pick-me-up? Coffee and espresso will be provided by Four Barrel Coffee. There’s green penny tile on the backsplash and elsewhere throughout the space, and some custom metalwork shelves by architect Wiley Price (he also did Fatted Calf and Prizefighter). There won’t be any seats at the bar—it’s meant to be more of a drink-and-wait area.

The actual dining counter is a bit further back under the large painting of a smelt by Jessica Niello (she also made the beautiful ceramic ramen bowls). The 16-seat counter is long and looks right into the kitchen (cooks will be able to serve guests directly). It’s made from old-growth Douglas fir and was a 1890s factory floor in Portland—above is a curving, eye-catching shape made of layered lath and plaster. There are also some tables, plus a semi-private back area that has a table with room for 8-10 that can be partially obscured by a curtain. More design details are being added by Kelly Ishikawa from The Perish Trust, and the lighting is by Kevin Randolph. I liked the unique pattern of the soundboard on the ceiling above the bar area, which will help counteract the noise that’s sure to be bouncing off the epoxy concrete floor.

It’s an exciting neighborhood to be in: A16 is opening their new location just blocks away, along with James Syhabout’s Box and Bells—and many will already know the location since Zachary’s is literally just across the street. The best part will be the late hours, open until midnight!

Congrats to the team on their new clubhouse—it’s a beauty. So many people contributed to make this project what it is—it’s very much a shining example our Northern California/bohemian/creative way of doing things. Yup, it takes a village. Since the opening date could move based on inspections, call first or keep track on Twitter. There is also likely to be some soft opening activity. 5812 College Ave. at Oak Grove, 510-788-6370.

Comebacks: Fior D'Italia Reopens, Juhu Beach Club Finds a New Location

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Fior d’Italia exterior; photo from Facebook.

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From the Night Market: Juhu Beach Club’s super-fantastic vada pav. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Great news for the many fans of ~FIOR D’ITALIA~: after closing in May, the restaurant is reopening on Sunday December 23rd under new ownership. Executive chef Gianni Audieri, who has been the chef for the last 30 years, has purchased the restaurant with his wife Trudy (they will be its fourth owners since 1886). There are a few changes: the menu is a bit simplified from the previous list of more than 90 items, but some new dishes will be added; and the restaurant will also have a fresh look.

While some of the waiters will return, there will also be some new faces, like hostess Grace Roberts, coming over from the recently closed Caesar’s Restaurant (along with some kitchen staff). Auguri! 2237 Mason St. at Chestnut, 415-986-1886.

And hopping across the bridge: congrats to chef Preeti Mistry, who has found a new home for her ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~ project, which was previously going to be located in the Mission, but has relocated. The new spot will be the former SR24 in Oakland—and since it’s such a great (and new) spot, there isn’t a lot of construction to be done. Which is lucky for all of us because she is shooting for an opening in March 2013. She’s excited to be in the neighborhood. Congrats! 5179 Telegraph Ave. at 51st St., Oakland.

Schulzies Brings Bread Pudding to Hayes Valley

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The Schulzies space, as construction wraps up. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

As reported in tablehopper last year, Hayes Valley is getting an adorable bread pudding shop. It’s called ~SCHULZIES~, and after lots of delays, it’s set to open this week. Final inspections are Friday (that’s today!), and then they’ll be able to throw open their doors and start scooping.

Owner Sarah Schulz, a San Francisco native, has had a Schulzies location open in Venice Beach for a while now. There are 108 different flavors, though not all will be available at the same time (obviously), and most are served cold, though some of the savory ones are heated. There will also be Equator coffee and espresso, and catering. The tiny, cute spot will seat a handful of people inside, plus some outdoor seating. No word yet on the exact hours or a phone number—we’ll keep you posted. 364 Hayes St. at Gough.

707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Dec 21, 2012

Oxbow Birthday, Holy Cannoli, Canneti, Flipside Steakhouse and Brewhouse Coming

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Oxbow Public Market in Napa celebrates in January. Courtesy Oxbow Public Market.

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Canneti Roadhouse Italiana coming to Forestville in January.

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Chef Jesse Mallgren of Madrona Manor. Courtesy Madrona Manor.

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Best cookbooks of 2012. Courtesy Heather Irwin.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

~OXBOW PUBLIC MARKET~ in Napa is planning a weeklong birthday party Monday January 21st through Friday January 25th, celebrating its five-year anniversary. Daily specials, live music, nightly drawings for great prizes, and other surprises will greet market visitors throughout the week. There wil be complimentary birthday cake and ice cream from ~THE MODEL BAKERY~ and ~THREE TWINS ICE CREAM~ on Friday January 25th from 5pm-8pm. 644 First Street at Soscol Ave., Napa.

Healdsburg’s ~COSTEAUX FRENCH BAKERY~ whips up its annual batch of holiday cannoli on Monday December 24th for one day only. Karl and Nancy Seppi fill a crisp pastry shell with mascarpone, ricotta, candied fruits, and chocolate chips. The whole thing is topped, of course, with a maraschino cherry. Six for $20; advance orders recommended. 417 Healdsburg Ave. at North St., Healdsburg, 707-433-1913.

Sonoma County restaurateur Nino Rabbaa is expanding his dining empire with news that he’ll be opening two new restaurants in 2013. The biggest, which is still in concept development, will be ~FLIPSIDE BREWHOUSE~ in the former Latitude location in Rohnert Park. That restaurant closed in 2010 and the large indoor-outdoor space has been empty ever since, despite several nibbles from local restaurant owners. Rabbaa will also open ~FLIPSIDE STEAKHOUSE~ in Santa Rosa. Rabbaa’s SoCo Hospitality Group includes Rendez Vous Bistro, Flipside Bar & Burger, Space XXV Lounge (which opened in late October), Chez Vous Catering, and Lakeside Grill at Spring Lake Park in Santa Rosa.

Italian restaurant ~CANNETI~ is in its final stages of construction in Forestville and is slated for a mid-January opening. Chef Francesco Torre, formerly of Sausalito’s ~FISH~, plans “Italian roadhouse” cuisine. Canneti joins a flurry of new restaurants along Highway 116 in Sonoma’s West County that includes ~BEAUDRY’S ROADHOUSE~ (4550 Gravenstein Hwy North, Sebastopol), ~TWIST EATERY~ (6536 Front St., Forestville), and ~BACKYARD~ (6566 Front St., Forestville).

Still need a spot to dine on Christmas in Wine Country? ~MADRONA MANOR INN & RESTAURANT ~ hosts a Dickens Dinner on Christmas Day, with seatings at 1:30pm and 6:30pm. Chef Jesse Mallgren’s holiday menu features seared foie gras with quince compote, Dungeness crab with Green Goddess dressing, beef Wellington, and Christmas pudding. The five-course menu is $125 per person (all ages). Dickens carolers entertain throughout the meal. Reservations required. 1001 Westside Rd. at Westside Hwy., Healdsburg, 707-433-4231.

Also open: ~SANTÉ AT SONOMA MISSION INN~ is offering a grand buffet from 2pm-8pm. Highlights include charcuterie, salumi, antipasti, artisan cheeses, smoked and cured fish, caviar, salads, sweetbreads with black truffles, glazed ham, coq au vin, carving stations with Niman Ranch beef and roasted goose, artichoke ravioli with preserved-lemon cream sauce, breads from a wood-fired oven, and more than a dozen desserts, including English toffee, chocolate bread pudding, and bûches de noël. The cost is $99 for adults and $49.50 for kids aged 5 to 12; children 4 and under are complimentary. Beverages, tax, and gratuity are not included. Reservations recommended, 707-939-2415. 100 Boyes Blvd. at Hwy. 12, Sonoma.

Love cookbooks? Check out my favorite reads at the BiteClubEats website for 2012.

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All content © 2012 tablehopper, LLC. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.