The simple, unyielding handwriting of Joan Didion and the candy-colored paintings of Wayne Thiebaud, two artists who died in December, both worked to create vibrant moments of California culture, its darkness, its beauty (and in Thiebaud’s case, it’s food). They contributed to how we thought about our region and our state, and ultimately contributed to the way we thought.
With this in mind, it can be said that many of the restaurants below have helped fix a local era and point of view in time and add to our own history. Immigrants and their children were allowed the familiar taste of their distant home and childhood. One of them served really good pizza on countless dates and crowds, the great cultural balance. And you belonged to the best of the best for special occasions. Remember it well locals! Since they can never be replicated, even with magical thinking. As always, please send tips to [email protected]
Babette owners Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker at their BAMPFA location. Photo credit: Tracey Taylor
BABETTE BAMPFA This receives a pass because it does not close, but only moves: After almost 10 years, the last day of the award-winning Café Babette at BAMPFA was December 22nd, as the owners Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker decided to leave the museum and in their own brick-and-mortar on 2033 San Pablo Ave. Look out for the cafe opening in 2022 to revive the Berkeley space left by the exit from Lanesplitter (see below). Babette BAMPFA was at 2155 Center St. at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
LANESPLITTER BERKELEY Well that’s it. Berkeley has to make a clear break and say goodbye firmly and healthily to a classic pizza restaurant that has moved on for better and for worse after 23 years. But how can we live without them? We have so much history! And ate so many slices (with so much beer) at these wooden picnic tables, both in the cozy dining room and on the sheltered garden terrace! What will become of these action figures? Two decades of first dates and group get-togethers, partying and casual family fun – when Lanesplitter opened its flagship store in Berkeley in 1998, many of our hairstyles were … bigger. Nosh watched the chain grow in four locations, then two, and now one. Hold on, Lanesplitter Emeryville, and hold on, Berkeley. And welcome Babette (see above), we are very happy that you are taking the seat. Lane Splinter Berkeley was located at 2033 San Pablo Avenue.
Rockridge Standby Filippo closed in December. Photo credit: Filippo’s
FILIPPOS RESTAURANT It’s often the cheerful, simple restaurants that feel like they’re always there, and Filippo’s in Rockridge, on the corner of College and Manila Avenues, was such a reliable outpost. For 30 years it served the neighborhood family-friendly Italian cuisine in a warm, upscale, casual trattoria setting. The restaurant was founded in 1992 by Philip Raskin (probably the “Filippo” behind the name); The youngest owners, Geovanni and Cynthia Vicente, proudly run the soulful menu, wine list and service of the restaurant. The website says, “Filippo’s has closed its shop. Thanks for all the support along the way, ”and on Nextdoor, a message from Geovanni ended:“ … we will miss you very much, thank you, thank you. ”Oliveto’s closure of the street may hit the press, but many local customers and families will each other remind of Filippo’s friendly neighborhood. Filippo was at 5400 College Ave.
OLIVETO RESTAURANT AND CAF What to say about this white tablecloth Italian destination and its more casual sidewalk cafe, both of which are some of the best in the Bay Area? When Nosh editor Eve Batey published the story of the Rockridge Institution’s December 31 shutdown in November, there was a collective inhale – and a hasty backup of recent reservations. Founded by husband and wife Bob Klein and Maggie Blyth Klein at Rockridge Market Hall in 1986 (the year Microsoft went public, food writer Derk Richardson once reminded readers in a review), Oliveto shared many values and sometimes cooks , with Chez Panisse – practical owners, teamwork, simplicity, relationships with farmers, constant excellence, seasonality – but the Kleins went to Italy for inspiration rather than France. Dishes include roasted meat on a spit, wood-fired pizza, delicious homemade pasta and high-quality seafood. In 2014, Oliveto’s dining room itself hit the headlines when the Kleins were among the first to try Meyer Sound’s groundbreaking speaker system to ensure acoustic intimacy at the table and enhance the restaurant’s already quietly luxurious feel. As Batey noted, Oliveto’s head chef over the years has included acclaimed heavy-hitters Michael Tusk, Paul Bertolli, and Paul Canales; Jonah Rhodehamel and then Brian Griffith led from 2010, and current chef Peter Jackson joined during the pandemic. The pandemic, the risks and uncertainties of which the Kleins did not leave behind, even in retirement. “We wanted to go out with joy,” Bob Klein told Nosh, and indeed, one statement could calm Oliveto’s broken audience as we digest this big change in our local dining landscape. Oliveto was at 5655 College Avenue.
THE TRAPPIST Once a focal point of the East Bay craft beer boom, this 14-year-old taproom in Oakland closed on December 31st. The owners Aaron Porter and Adriana Porter Dominguez handed the business over to the Santa Cruz brewery Sante Adairius Rustic Ales (SARA). on the last day of the year, customers emailed it with new owners Adair Paterno and Tim Clifford on its final night to meet the spot’s loyal fans. The taproom will eventually reopen as Oakland Arbor, the SF Chronicle reports, on a date as yet unknown. Meanwhile, Porter and Porter Dominguez, who now live in South Bay, tell Chron that they are opening a cafe / clothing store in Los Altos and that they hope to eventually open a new Trappist on the peninsula. The Trappist was at 460 Eighth St. in Oakland. – Eve Batey
Andy’s Donut Sandy: Fried chicken served on a glazed donut with Cajun coleslaw and pickles. Photo credit: Andy’s / DoorDash
ANDY’S ORIGINAL CHICKEN [Begins typing in Openings…] Not new, but new to Nosh, is Andy’s Original Chicken in Richmond, a seemingly delicious roast chicken that comes highly recommended. Sorry I didn’t cover the June opening earlier as … wait, apparently it’s already closed permanently. Uh, pandemic! [Moves paragraph to Closings.] Seriously, I wish the business owners the best of luck. After just six months, you’ve made fans and you’ll be missed. Andy’s Original Chicken was at 969 23rd Street in Richmond.
THE JUNKET Looking for imported European delicacies, Nosh stopped by this El Cerrito Plaza favorite just before Christmas and found empty shelves. That evening, the reason for the mysteriously quiet deli was omnipresent on social media: After 42 years, the married deli owners Bruno and Cindy Frisch and their family announced that The Junket would be closed for good. Generations lament the loss of their beloved source of German and British imported products, from snacks and spices to canned beer and haggis to the shop’s famous sandwiches with bread, meat and cheese specialties. Above all, however, the community will miss the loving hospitality of the Frisch. For the full forty-two years of The Junket, German-born Bruno and British-born Cindy worked at the counter (via Jamaica), filling the shelves and providing great customer service. “People came here with their children and I watched them grow up,” Cindy Frisch told Berkeleyside after The Junket’s 40th anniversary in 2019. In the meantime, Frisch’s own children are Gary and the vegetarian daughter Schatzie (meaning “little darling “, A nickname of hers.) Papa), grew up in a delicatessen shop and helped out in the family business for years.
In an email to Nosh, Schatzie (creator of the delicatessen’s ironic head cheese art) shared the following suicide note on behalf of the family: “The Junket was my parents’ fountain of youth. When the pandemic broke out in 2020, Cindy was just a sprightly 90-year-old and Bruno was an energetic 89-year-old. They had previously worked 6 days a week (and enjoyed working at The Junket on their days off as well). “Home at home” came into effect. My parents and their employees aged 65 and over adhered to it. Cindy still went to The Junket in the evenings when the customers were gone and worked from home … but it was difficult. Bruno and Cindy are very social. They missed their friends who were also their clients at The Junket. The fountain of youth was no more. And really, The Junket is not The Junket without Bruno and Cindy. ”Nosh wishes everyone the best of luck and health and hopes that the many, many stories of gratitude and affection will keep the Frisch’s spirits alive when they and their staff see the Plaza again request. The Junket was at 235 El Cerrito Plaza in El Cerrito.
MILLIES KITCHEN Lafayette lost a long-standing neighborhood institution in December with the closure of Millie’s Kitchen, a home-cooked breakfast and brunch hangout since 1975. According to the East Bay Times, the family-friendly diner-style restaurant was last owned by Eva Clement, a 14-year-old Millie employee who bought it when Millie retired in 1989. Now Clement is doing the same, promising new ownership in 2022. For now, however, convenience food readiness, an affordable bastion of bygone Lafayette, has closed after nearly five decades. Millie’s kitchen was at 1018 Oak Hill Road in Lafayette.
Featured photo: Lanesplitter / Facebook
Joanna Della Penna has lived in the Bay Area since 2001 and moved to the East Bay in 2009. She has been writing about restaurants in the area for 20 years and should really be doing more exercise.
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