I have been a fan of A16 ever since it opened its doors in 2004 in San Francisco’s Marina district. But I may have become an even bigger fan now of its younger sister location, A16 Rockridge in Oakland, which opened in 2013.
That’s because parking is a breeze, especially on an early Sunday evening, as when I visited recently. In contrast, visiting the original location will always involve circling the blocks over and over to hunt for a parking space.
In Oakland, I save time in the car to spend more of it comfortably at my seat in the restaurant, done up in rustic-industrial style with exposed brick walls and duct work on the ceilings.
The restaurant, which takes its name from the highway that spans across Italy from Napoli to Bari, specializes in the food of Campania.
Its wine list is also killer. In fact, Wine Director and Co-Founder Shelley Lindgren won a James Beard Award for it. So when our server recommended a half carafe ($26) of the 2018 Terredora di Paolo “Rosaenovae” Montefusco, Avellino, Campania rose, on the warm summer evening, we knew it would hit the spot. And it did with its pale salmon color, and light, dry, minerally-forward character.
First-time restaurateurs Marc Schechter and Danny Stoller may call themselves and their new San Francisco establishment, the Square Pie Guys.
Even if the pizza is actually rectangular. And even if the other items on the menu deserve top-billing, too, including Asian-style fried chicken wings that nearly steal the show.
Semantics aside, this Detroit-style pizza joint is already winning over fans and making repeat customers, even after being open just a month. On a recent Wednesday night, when I was invited in as a guest, the place was packed.
Detroit-style pizza was born in — where else — the Motor City. Originally, the thick-crust pizza was baked in industrial car parts trays. At Square Pie Guys, the pizzas are baked in deep rectangular pans.
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.
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.
Sink your teeth into a pizza topped with piquillo pepper sauce, Spanish chorizo, Picholine olives, Manchego and mozzarella cheeses, and saffron onions.
And help renew a park in the process.
You can — by ordering a new pizza from Zume, the Mountain View company known for its innovative robots that help assemble pies to order. Although the pizzas used to baked en route on specialized trucks, they are now cooked at its headquarters before being loaded onto trucks for delivery.
“The Spaniard” is a new, limited-time-only pizza designed by Jen Biesty, chef-owner of Oakland’s Shakewell. The “Top Chef” alumnus is the first chef to be featured in Zume’s “Pies With A Purpose” program, in which 10 percent of net sales from that special pizza is donated to a local cause. In this case, the proceeds will go to the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation to help revitalize Tassafaronga Park, which is located in Biesty’s home neighborhood of East Oakland.
Zume’s unusual circular pizza box.
This also marks Zume’s delivery expansion beyond the Peninsula and the South Bay to certain parts of Alameda County.
Brazilian brigadeiros to indulge in. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
Watching World Cup may have gotten you riled up with all the action on the field. Me? It just got me hungry, thinking about all the specialty foods associated with each of the countries competing.
So when a sample box of brigadeiros arrived last week in my mailbox, it was perfect timing. San Francisco’s Tiny B specializes in these traditional Brazilian sweets, bite-sized chocolates made with condensed milk and flavorings. They’re like little balls of fudge rolled around nuts or sprinkles. And they are plenty addictive.
My sample contained some of Tiny B’s classic flavors. I have to say I am partial to dark chocolate, so the dark chocolate sprinkles one was probably my favorite because it let the intensity of the dark chocolate shine through.
A box of four is $12. You can customize it by choosing your exact flavors, too.
Bluestem Brasserie Lets You Have Your Cake
If you’ve ever had the legendary Honolulu Hangover cake at Bluestem Brasserie in San Francisco, you know how incredible it is. If you’ve never had it, well, now here’s your chance.
The unforgettable Honolulu Hangover. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)
The restaurant has brought it back and will offer it through Labor Day as part of its special “Cake Only” dessert menu.