Belli Osteria, 2016 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
Craving a taste of northern Italy? Berkeley’s cozy new osteria offers heaps of pasta that will knock you into a satisfying daze. Fresh ravioli (pictured) brim with surprising fillings, from braised pork, red cabbage and caramelized onions to roast duck and shiitake mushroom. Devour squid-ink tagliolini with tarragon prawns—they’re sprinkled with pecorino bread crumbs that you’ll chase to the bottom of the bowl. Warm-hued with brick and bright-red walls, Belli is casual and inviting. And don’t fret when your meal winds down: There’s still heavenly lemon verbena panna cotta to enjoy.
Bar Tartine’s Sandwich Shop, 561 Valencia Street
Chad Robertson devotees and Mission hipsters can order sandwiches—to eat in or to go—at his new cafe and bread shop in Bar Tartine. Crowd-pleasers include the smørrebrød: an open-faced rye-bread sandwich spread with either chicken liver pâté, apricot and parsley, or corned beef, horseradish cream and fried onion. The bakery’s famous bread is made from heirloom grains and baked in a custom-built oven.
Duende, 468 19th Street, Oakland
Oakland’s uptown has much to celebrate with the opening of Paul Canales’ Duende, next to Flora, which he cooked up with partner Rocco Somazzi. The Spanish phrase tener duende means “to have soul,” and it’s a fitting name. The authentic Spanish and Basque comfort food includes classic tapas—both frios (cold) and caldas (hot)—like fritos mixtos, canalones, croquettas, albondigas and cazuelas; leave room for Canales’ paella, too. In a loft above the kitchen, guests can enjoy some of the Bay Area’s best musicians, such as Charlie Hunter. Among the offerings in Duende’s on-premises bodega are artisanal olive oils, house-made charcuterie and confections, and Ici Ice Cream treats. Morning people will be tempted by the sweet and savory breakfast creations and the expertly made Verve coffee and espresso drinks.
Dandelion Chocolate, 740 Valencia Street
Willy Wonka has arrived in the Mission. At Dandelion, you’ll pore over artful displays on bean anatomy and how to taste chocolate. The High Seas bar ups the enlightenment factor—packaged with the salty sweet is If I Were a Wizard Chocolatier, a book of stories, poems and drawings by students at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing center cofounded by author Dave Eggers (some proceeds from the bar benefit the organization). The chocolatiers roast, crack, sort, grind, conch and temper small batches of high-quality beans, which they then hand-mold and package. Sip hot cocoa at the café overlooking the workroom, and see the care this staff puts into all the products.