Recently Visited Restaurants
Where we've eaten lately: East End, Umami Burger, Osmanthus, Grease Box.
Comfort food at East End.
Updated Alameda Listing
Paul Manousos elevates East End, popular for its artisanal thin-crusted, wood-fired pies, to the next level with the move into the front corner of the Marketplace. He continues improvising with specialty Italian and seasonal California toppings on the pizzas, but adds to the menu snacks (pickles, fries, wings), soups and salads, house-made charcuterie (bresaola, duck liver pate, pork rilletes), cheese plates, hefty lunch sandwiches, main dishes (pasta, meat, fish), and vegetable sides (asparagus, chard, artichokes, risotto), plus a bountiful list of beers, wines, spirits, and house cocktails. It’s a big move that’s paying off, thanks to a big assist from chef Jacob Alioto, a Luka’s Taproom veteran. East End instantly struck us, and insistently calls us back, as a place to hang out and explore the unpretentious but bold cuisine and drinks. Serves lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 1650 Park St., Alameda, 510-263-9630
www.EastEndPizzaCo.com. CC, Full Bar, Reservations, WC accessible, $$
New Oakland Listing (Uptown)
Sometimes a body just craves a good burger, and Umami has gourmet burgers in spades. The soft Portuguese bun, with the trademark “U” on top, barely contains the coarsely ground, medium-rare beef that’s spiked with ingredients designed to elicit umami, the fifth taste sensation. In Oakland, Umami’s third Nor Cal location, the specialty burger is the Queso Fundido Burger, starring chile con queso and chorizo fundido sauce, but shiitake mushrooms, truffles, green chile, caramelized onions, onion strings, and bacon lardon have been known to make their way onto these juicy, dripping messes. This is one burger you’ll remember—and be back for. Go ahead, “Umamify” your day today. Serves lunch and dinner daily. 2100 Franklin St., Ste. 2190, 510-899-8626. www.umami.com. CC, Full Bar, No Reservations, WC accessible, $$
New Oakland Listing (Rockridge)
Sad as we were to see Burmese pioneer Nan Yang go, Osmanthus ably takes up the Asian charge under the direction of chef Julia Klein, formerly of Terra in St. Helena, and owner Michael Chiang. Chinese, Japanese, and South-East Asian regional influences appear in this selective California-Asian menu that presents nicely defined raw, warm, noodle, and rice dishes. For instance, the tuna tartare gets a lift from ginger, soy, lime, and avocado, and the honey-sirracha adds sweet heat to the Brussels sprouts, giving both a distinct flair. Asian-inspired cocktails, and an intimate beer, wine, and spirits selection add an upscale feel to this stylish, spruced up addition to Rockridge. Serves lunch and dinner Tue.–Sat. Asian Fusion, 6048 College Ave., 510-923-1233. www.Osmanthusrestaurant.com. CC, Full Bar, Reservations accepted, WC accessible, $$
New Oakland Listing (North Oakland)
Where do you take your celiac friend from LA who is dying for fried chicken? Grease Box. This small, unpretentious cafe is gluten-free and full of “bare hand made” dishes with a definite South Louisiana bent, just like chef/owner Lizzie Boelter, who makes absolutely no apologies for frying stuff—chicken, veggies, onion rings—using chickpea flour. This is American comfort food but with a California urban-ag vibe, meaning kale, beets, and avocados with attitude might mingle with the eggs, the “pretty thick bacon,” and almond buttermilk waffles or brown rice flour pancakes. Whole grains, like corn and brown rice, are go-to ingredients, and everything, from almond milk to Texas queso (whatever that is), is “made from absolute scratch!” Sautéed vegetables, slaw, brisket, ribs, and pulled pork are palate-pleasers, too. Serves breakfast and lunch Mon.–Sat. and dinner Fri.–Sat. 925 Stanford Ave., 410-922-1323. www.GreaseBoxOakland.com CC, Beer an/or Wien, No Reservations, WC accessible, $–$$