Handmade pastas you can’t wait to twirl a fork into. Pizzas that make you lunge for a slice. An impressive Italian wine list. And creative cocktails that always put you in a peppy mood.
Vina Enoteca has long been one of my favorite Italian restaurants because it offers all of that with aplomb.
Ordering online is a breeze, as is parking when you pick up your order. These days, there’s plenty of open parking slots in the adjacent lot behind the Stanford Shopping Center. Walk up to the host stand outside to pick it all up.
My husband can never resist a pizza topped with prosciutto. The Pizza Emiliana ($22) is like the super-model version of that.
After graduating with an anthropology degree during a recession when jobs were scarce especially for liberal arts majors, Iliana Berkowitz was lucky enough to unearth her true passion in life — baking.
She took a job at a bakery, followed by a stint at a French bistro, all the while honing her bread and pastry skills.
In 2016, she started a bakery pop-up and bread club in the East Bay. Both did so well that in late-2018, she opened an actual brick-and-mortar, her As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro.
Look for my new “East Bay Cooks” cookbook to join this group in summer 2019.
See that stack of beautiful cookbooks above? Soon to join them will be “East Bay Cooks” — by yours truly.
Yes, that’s what I’ve spent the better part of this year working on. In fact, I just finished the manuscript this month.
The cookbook, which will debut in September 2019, will feature 40 of the top restaurants, bars and bakeries in the East Bay, with their stories and recipes. The photography will be by the incredibly talented Bay Area-based Eva Kolenko.
Owner and baker Emily Buysse hard at work in the kitchen of her Batch Pastries.
Emily Buysse is an avowed cookie monster.
So much so that when she was working for an IT company in Berkeley, and couldn’t find a decent cookie to nibble on during her breaks, she took matters into her own hand. She started baking, baking, and baking.
In fact, it snowballed into a sweet new career, launching her first into her own wholesale baking business before she decided to take over Montclair Baking in Oakland two years ago and rechristening it Batch Pastries.
A perfect spot to take a load off with something sweet.
This would almost make me take up running again.
Situated in a small strip mall atop a hill, it’s a bakery small in space but big in heart. Regulars gather on sunny days to relax with coffee and a cookie, which she considers the perfect treat because it’s the ideal size to satisfy without overwhelming.
I have Deborah Kwan to thank for the added inches on my waist.
You see, the former pastry cook turned restaurant publicist, recently went on a bakery crawl around the East Bay, posting photos on Facebook along the way. When she got to La Fournee in Berkeley, I was so overcome with longing for the glorious pastries she showed, that I knew I had to make a beeline there the next time I was up that way. Thankfully, that came last Thursday.