Though Singing Pizza Elmo still greets you when you walk into Emeryville’s Rotten City Pizza, neither he—nor his anthropomorphic animatronic pizza—no longer dances while singing, “Yum-my, yum-my, that’s a pizza pie.” His fading, sun-bleached fur gives him a ghostly pink pallor, no longer the bright red of ripe tomatoes—a color now reserved for the roasted tomato sauce Rotten City uses on the meatball subs.
Three-year-old Amber doesn’t like seafood. Six-year-old Tyler can’t cut steak. Ten-year-old Casey adores passatelli alla salsiccia but couldn’t possibly polish off a full $22 plate of it.
Here’s a pop quiz. First question: What’s a synonym for comfort food?
When in Elmwood, drop in here for a bite.
Six restaurants Oakland Magazine has visited recently.
Kristy looked radiant in her satin gown when I picked her up in my dad’s leased, lemon-chiffon Lincoln Continental. The luxury ride was less to impress—Kristy wasn’t my girlfriend; I was standing in for her boyfriend in the service—than to smooth out the long and winding ride to Port Costa for our pre-senior ball dinner at the Bull Valley Inn. This was back in the culinary dark ages, before the advent of California cuisine, when we called restaurants “fancy” not “upscale,” and a fancy restaurant served French or, more likely in the suburbs, “continental” cuisine.
Beer for breakfast. It wasn’t foremost in my mind when we planned a Sunday trip to Brotzeit Lokal. Nor do I advocate it as a daily indulgence. But we arrived around 1 p.m., so we’re really talking brunch. Also, I was having knackwurst with my scrambled eggs (poached not offered), home fries and toast ($10), and doesn’t a German pork sausage (flavored with juniper) just beg for a beer? Moreover, it was still October, so a pint of Ayinger Oktober Fest-Märzen ($6)—one of 16 rotating German, American and (a few) Belgian brews on tap here ($4.50–$8.50)—seemed perfectly appropriate.
Mention “European bread” or “the breads of Europe,” and what comes to mind? The fluffy stuff. The stretchy stuff. The soft stuff. The spongey stuff. Those golden-crusted rounds, braids, bars, and baguettes that, torn asunder, yield pillowy white poufs perforated with countless air pockets, all of them exhaling the sunny, floury perfumes that make you think of Paris, say. Or Rome, or Mykonos.
While the East Bay has gained the recognition it deserves as a foodie mecca, usually only a handful of names are dropped on its behalf: Alice Waters, Charlie Hallowell, Russell Moore, Allison Hopelain, Alison Barakat. But there’s a new cat in town, Chris Pastena, who spent his youth in Manhattan and New Jersey and has no ties to Waters. He has his eyes set on etching his name into Oakland lore, and he’s got a good start with Chop Bar, a homey favorite in Jack London Square; Lungomare, a refined Italian dining establishment in downtown Oakland; and the Tribune Tavern, a chic eatery in a historic landmark. Despite his being spread so thin—we haven’t even mentioned Labna, a Mexican restaurant he has in the works—we caught up with Pastena, who’s 42 “but feels 24,” to talk shop.
Here's what Alamedans are saying about the new burger joint coming to town.