Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

East End — The Be All And End All

Wide ribbons of pasta enrobed in a pork-lamb ragu at East End.

Wide ribbons of pasta enrobed in a pork-lamb ragu at East End.

 

There are many pizza places where you go for pizza and nothing but pizza. Oh sure, there might be appetizers on the menu, and a few salads to consider. But really, the main attraction that overshadows everything else is the pizza. Anything beyond is just filler to bide your time while you wait for your pie to emerge.

East End in Alameda is as far from that as it gets. In many ways, it reminds me of fabled Roberta’s in Brooklyn. You brave the lines there because you’ve heard the pizza is all that and more. But then you discover every single other thing on the menu is worth shouting about, too.

Such is the case at East End, where everything from the cocktails to desserts stands as tall and proud as the incredible pizzas.

Co-owner and co-chef Jacob Alioto manning the pizza oven.

Co-owner and co-chef Jacob Alioto manning the pizza oven.

East End was founded by co-owners and co-chefs Jacob Alioto and Paul Manousos. (You can find out more about them in my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks” (Figure 1), which will publish in September and include two recipes from East End.)

Paul’s wife, Michelle, designed the laid-back, light-filled spot that’s full of reclaimed wood and interesting touches like old player-piano music rolls repurposed as wallpaper.

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Win Free Tickets to “Taste of Potrero”

Feed Your Soul

Ready to enjoy sips and noshes from Soulva, Hawker Fare, Trick Dog, Dandelion Chocolate, Humphry Slocombe, Nopa, August 1 Five, and so many more, all in one spot for one night only?

You can at the ninth annual “Taste of Potrero,” 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. May 2 at The Midway, 900 Marin St. in San Francisco. Yes, it’s on a Thursday night. But Thursday is the new Friday, isn’t it?

More than 60 of the Bay Area’s best restaurants, bars, breweries and winemakers will come together for this annual fund-raiser for Daniel Webster Elementary School in San Francisco. All proceeds from the event go to the school, providing more than 75 percent of the Home and School Club budget, as well as arts enrichment programs, classroom supplies, computer instruction and literacy professionals. Since 2011, this event has raised more than $760,000 for the school.

Tickets are $150 each for general admission; $250 each for VIP access that allows you early access starting at 6 p.m.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a pair of free tickets (valued at a total of $300) to the event, which will feature The Morris, Gibson, Dumpling Time, Oren’s Hummus, The Slanted Door, and more.

The contest, open to those who can make it to the event that date, will run through midnight PST April 27. Winner will be announced April 29.

How to win?

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A Taste of Okinawa in San Francisco’s Castro District

This is soba Okinawan-style -- yes, with egg wheat noodles -- at Izakaya Sushi Ran.

This is soba Okinawan-style — yes, with egg wheat noodles — at Izakaya Sushi Ran.

 

Owner Yoshi Tome came to my table at his Izakaya Sushi Ran in San Francisco, bearing bottles of awamori for me to try.

The unique clear Japanese spirit is made only in Okinawa, where he is from. Like sake, it is made from rice. But while sake is brewed, awamori is distilled, making it far more potent.

When I asked if Okinawans ever drank sake, Tome emphatically shook his head, saying, “No. They drink only three things: beer, whiskey and awamori. And they drink awamori neat — just poured over ice.”

Since Okinawans are among the longest living people in the world, they must be doing something right.

Owner Yoshi Tome.

Owner Yoshi Tome.

I can’t vouch for whether dining at the Castro District restaurant, which opened in December, will give you extra longevity. But it will definitely give you delicious insight into the region’s cuisine and drink, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently.

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Sidle Into Chop Bar

A bountiful burger with blue cheese, avocado and bacon at Chop Bar.

A bountiful burger with blue cheese, avocado and bacon at Chop Bar.

 

Chop Bar in Oakland is named for the West African term for a roadside bar-restaurant that’s a true gathering place for the community. And it fits that description to a “T.”

It’s like a hipper version of the Cheers bar, a warm space where regulars are recognized and newcomers made to feel welcome, as my husband and I were when we visited one recent Sunday, paying our own tab at the end.

Owners Chris Pastena and Lev Delany opened the convivial spot in 2009 in Jack London Square. It’s a compact space with a few tables and a good number of counter seats at the bar. Later this summer, Pastena and Delany will be moving Chop Bar across the street to a roomier location, a dream come true for the duo.

In the summer, the floor-to-ceiling windows are rolled up to bring the outdoors in.

In the summer, the floor-to-ceiling garage-door windows are rolled up to bring the outdoors in.

On a lazy late-afternoon, we dropped into Chop Bar. We were too late for lunch but too early for dinner. Fortunately, it has an “in-between” menu, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., that offered plenty of choices, and which many people were taking advantage of because the place was packed even at 4:30 p.m.

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The Buzzy New Bardo Lounge & Supper Club

Fondue 2.0 at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.

Fondue 2.0 at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.

 

If you grew up watching “The Brady Bunch” (as I did) or lived in an Eichler-designed house (as I did), you know full well the timeless appeal of mid-century modernity.

That’s the aesthetic that Bardo Lounge & Supper Club in Oakland brings to life in a 21st century way.

Opened in October, this new restaurant looks to the past for inspiration, but interprets it in a cool new way going forward with global influences.

Owner Seth Bregman modeled it after the cocktail parties his parents threw in their Southern California home. In fact, the main floor lounge even features a vintage lamp and sofa that he hijacked from his parents’ living room.

You can enjoy a casual, a la carte menu in the lounge, while planted on that sofa or other ones. I always find it a little precarious to juggle drink and food while having to reach up and over to a coffee table.

The logo sign.

The logo sign.

The main floor lounge with mid-century decor.

The main floor lounge with mid-century decor.

But you can always take the slightly more formal route upstairs, where a three-course, $59 per person prix fixe is served. It’s a quieter area, where you can still overlook the buzzy lounge area.

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