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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bay Area Restaurant News

There have been several interesting news items lately regarding the Bay Area restaurant scene.   Here are just a few of the stories that caught my attention:

Bong Su Restaurant & Lounge:   Tammy Huynh, executive chef and co-owner of Tamarine in Palo Alto, will soon be joining co-owner Anne Le in opening a sister restaurant in San Francisco.   Like Tamarine, Bong Su Restaurant & Lounge will present contemporary Vietnamese cuisine in a stylish atmosphere, but the menu will be much more regionally-focused with dishes that are specific to Hanoi, Hue and Saigon.   The restaurant is slated to open in January 2006 at the corner of Third and Folsom Streets, in the location formerly occupied by Max's Diner.   I have always found Tamarine to be good but pricey for Palo Alto, so I'm very curious to see how a similar concept fares in the San Francisco market.   An interesting side note here is that we seem to be witnessing a real expansion in the number of "modern" Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area, as a new generation of establishments follows the trail first blazed by Le Cheval in Oakland and The Slanted Door in San Francisco.   In addition to Tamarine and Bong Su, Three Seasons has quietly expanded to three locations in the Bay Area over the past few years, and Dragonfly just recently opened up in the Inner Sunset.   Add in the more established players Le Colonial and Ana Mandara, and it certainly appears that we have no shortage of Vietnamese dining options.

Scott Howard:   The chef who launched Fork in San Anselmo in 2001 and subsequently took it to great success has just opened an eponymous restaurant in downtown San Francisco.   Scott Howard is located at 500 Jackson, in the space that once housed Cypress Club and the unimaginatively-named 500 Jackson.   The menu is California-French with Asian and Mediterranean accents, the restaurant offers a raw bar, and the average check is said to be around $70 per person.   Howard, who once worked under renowned chef Norman Van Aken, had apparently been wanting to open a restaurant in San Francisco ever since he first arrived in the Bay Area in 2000.   Given the acclaim that Howard generated at Fork and the relative paucity of high quality restaurants in this tier, I look forward to trying Scott Howard soon.

An Embarrassment of Pizza Riches:   It's no secret that the Bay Area has recently experienced a pizza renaissance, with A16, Pizzeria Delfina, Pizzaiolo, Little Star Pizza, and Pizzeria Picco all opening and/or becoming wildly popular within the last year.   But if you thought that pizza equilibrium had finally been reached, you were wrong.   There are at least three more significant pizzerias in the works, and that's just in San Francisco.   First up is Patxi's (pronounced "Pah-cheese"), a restaurant specializing in Chicago deep-dish pizza that will be opening soon at Hayes and Octavia.   This is the second location for the restaurant, the first having been launched in Palo Alto in 2004.   Next is Gitan, a pizza and pasta restaurant from prolific restaurateur Jocelyn Bulow that will be located at 300 DeHaro Street.   When a Frenchman who has built an empire of French-inspired restaurants feels compelled to open a pizza place, well, that's when you know just how powerful this pizza movement really is!   Finally, chef Joe Kohn and proprietor Sam DuVall - the gentlemen behind the Cuban restaurant Habana and the steakhouse chain Izzy's Steaks & Chops - are in the exploratory phases of planning their own pizza place.   This apparently includes eating their way through all of the Bay Area's hottest pizza establishments, and traveling to Argentina to find out how the Italian community there prepares this old standard.   So, stay tuned!

George Morrone:   In a post a few months ago, I noted that George Morrone was planning to relaunch his financial district restaurant Tartare with a new name and a revamped menu.   And on a visit I paid to the restaurant a few weeks later, virtually every employee on the premises - and Morrone himself - excitedly told me about the changes that were by then imminent.   Well, the restaurant closed its doors for the overhaul in early September . . . and then remained closed.   Then, a few weeks ago, Grace Ann Walden from the Chronicle explained why:   the investors behind Tartare were suddenly reconsidering the future of the restaurant, and it was unclear whether Morrone would even stay involved in any future plans.   Well, in today's Chronicle, Walden reports that the investors have thus far decided only not to decide - i.e., Morrone is still nominally on board, but the fundamental question of whether to reopen the restaurant with a new concept or to sell it off entirely remains unanswered.   In any event, although Morrone continues to operate his Novato steakhouse Boca, I hope that he finds another San Francisco kitchen soon so that he can share his considerable talents.


Blogger Catherine said...

Word on the street is that Tartare will be sold, and George will focus on Boca (in Novato or wherever it is) as well as a new TV show in the works.

October 07, 2005 1:32 PM  
Blogger NS said...

Catherine: Thanks for the information - I just recently heard the same thing about Tartare being sold. I hope Morrone finds another place in the city soon - I need some more of that foie gras pasta!

October 12, 2005 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen on the pizza renaissance . . . One other spot that absolutely needs to be considered in this discussion is the cooperative known as Cheeseboard Pizza out on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley.

February 19, 2006 2:06 AM  

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