Posts for February 11, 2013

The 50 Best Pizza Places in the Bay Area

Anyone who still says that San Francisco isn't a good pizza town has clearly not been paying attention. The arrival of Pizzeria Delfina and Pizzeria Picco in 2005, and the subsequent onslaught of new, wood-fired pizzerias in the last three years — including the emigration of Neapolitan standard-bearer Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana from the East Coast to the West — have led to a seismic shift in pizza pickiness across the Bay Area. While it is true that we are still short on quick and easy slice places that don't suck, there are actually a few of those, as well as a small army of Neapolitan devotees, and several astonishingly good truck/cart operations pressing into neighborhoods where good pizza used to be harder to find than parking.

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Actually Pretty Awesome: The Fried Chicken Sandwich at Hi Tops

It's like Bakesale Betty's, but dare we say it's better?Photo: J. Barmann

As critic Jesse Hirsch wrote just last week, "The Bay Area is lousy with fried chicken sandwiches," and we think this stems largely from the explosive popularity of Oakland's Bakesale Betty, where they still sling 800 or so of those bad boys every day they're open. Nevertheless, there is always room for another, and we have to say this one is damn good. It's probably the aioli and the dark crunchiness of the fry batter that do it for us, but Hi Tops's fried chicken sandwich is a winner.

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The Mill Opens For Real on Wednesday

The Mill (736 Divisadero), the collaboration between Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread, will open in its fully realized shape on Wednesday, February 13, just in time for Valentine's Day lattes topped with foam hearts. The team tells us they'll be open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving coffee and toasts, and you can expect this to be the new, Summit-like hub for the ever-gentrifying neighborhood. That is, if they have wifi, unlike at Four Barrel. Stay tuned for photos. [Earlier]

Coi Chef Daniel Patterson to Open Casual Outpost on Mid-Market

Following on the heels of his expansion to Oakland over the past two years, with Plum, Plum Bar, and Haven, chef and restaurateur Daniel Patterson is placing a bet on the rapidly changing area of Mid-Market. As the Scoop is reporting, he's inked a deal to take the space currently occupied by a Chinese dive, Iron Wok, at 1420 Market between 10th and 11th. That is strategically quite close to the new Twitter headquarters that everyone likes to talk about, the same building where the Bourbon & Branch guys are rumored to possibly be opening something as well. He's aiming for a summer opening, and says the place will be fun, casual, and have cocktails. [Scoop]

Maker’s Mark Is Watering Down Its Bourbon

What can drinkers expect from the new, 84-proof Maker's?Photo: Courtesy Maker's Mark

There are more bourbon barrels than people in Kentucky at the moment, but the sharp uptick in demand is crushing supply, and now, as a means of staving off a bourbon shortage, the distillery that produces Maker's Mark announced it is taking the seemingly extraordinary measure of lowering the alcohol-by-volume content of its product. As you can imagine, some drinkers are going nuts over this.

The full statement. »

Live at the Rrazz Temporarily Shut Down By Entertainment Commission, Hopefully Will Reopen in March

We noted last week that the new incarnation of the Rrazz Room in the mezzanine space at 1000 Van Ness, now called Live at the Rrazz, had mysteriously closed and canceled a bunch of performances. The owners have now issued a statement that this was all due to "a possible sound issue," and it was the Entertainment Commission that forced them to "pause" performances while the issue is investigated and rectified. They say the pause will only last until March 5, and they've already rescheduled some of their performers, however it's not every day that the Entertainment Commission shuts down a venue like this. We actually wonder, given how quickly the place opened after relocating here in January, if all the proper sign-offs had been secured to begin with... Stay tuned. [Earlier]

Bring Your Own Bottles for Discounted Wine at Tank 18 on Saturday

Tank 18 (1345 Howard Street at Dore), SoMa's newest urban winery, is doing a Sustainable Bottling party on Saturday, February 16. The deal is pretty simple: Bring your own washed-out wine bottle and get it filled with their new Petite Syrah for $7.99, or buy it already bottled for $9.99. You can watch the bottling in process in the video by Seasons of Wine, and in addition to being a good deal on a decent bottle of wine, you can get an education in the mechanics of bottling while you're at it. For those who like to shop in bulk, you can drop off a case or more of bottles on Friday and pick them up filled on Saturday. Doors open at 10 a.m. and they'll go until they're sold out. Also, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Old Port Lobster Shack will be there serving lobster rolls.

First Look at b. patisserie, Opening Tuesday

Just a year ago San Francisco didn't have any hometown examples of the stylish, modern patisseries one finds in Paris, with their gleaming vitrines filled with colorful, expertly crafted desserts. Now we have three. Belinda Leong's much-blogged-about patisserie project, b. patisserie, is finally becoming a reality tomorrow after a few last-minute hold-ups with inspections, and it joins Yigit Pura's Tout Sweet and William Werner's Craftsman & Wolves in a new local pastry boom. The shop at California and Divis, in the former Crepe & Coffee (2821 California), has been remodeled and tricked out with the sort of fancy display case found in those Parisian patisseries, and it's the first of its kind in the U.S. — the marble surface has variable temperature settings so that it can be room temperature for baked goods, like croissants and Leong's famous kouign ammans, or chilled down for cold items, like mousses and tarts.

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Burp: What We Remember From the 2013 Beer Week Kickoff

Thirsty Bear, and every other S.F. brewer and beer geek, were in attendance.Photo: Stephen Bronstein

Suffice it to say, as per usual, everyone who attended Friday's kickoff grand tasting event for San Francisco Beer Week got pretty hammered. The annual shindig expanded to the Concourse Pavilion last year and this year featured beers from 78 Northern California brewers, from big players like Sierra Nevada to nanobreweries like the brand new Pine Street Brewery — which debuted its first beer, Atom Splitter pale ale, on Friday. And while it's all well and good to chat about how "sessionable" this or that beer might be, the truth is most of the attendees tasted dozens of beers before they were done, many of which had alcohol contents of 8% or above, meaning those half glasses added up fast.

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Bauer Raves About Bull Valley Roadhouse

The golden bull outside the restaurant.

The new restaurant in Port Costa that looked like it might be kept kind of secret for while is about to see a lot of new customers. Mr. Bauer just published his review of Bull Valley Roadhouse on Sunday, and while we haven't made it there yet ourselves, his big three stars confirm that the place is as promising as it first appeared. Owners Earl Flewellen and Samuel Spurrier renovated the little hotel and restaurant in the tiny town east of Crockett, along the Delta, and they brought in chef David Williams as partner. Williams, who worked at Slanted Door, brought in Erik Adkins to consult on the cocktail list, and Bauer says that everything they're doing is "so good." He loves the whole roasted branzino in parchment, the wedge salad, the St. Louis-style pork ribs, the grilled flatiron steak, and the fried chicken. [Chron]

Ruth Reichl Calls the Star System ‘Stupid’

"As a critic, I really hated the star system. It’s stupid and insulting to readers. I’d sometimes give a restaurant a lower rating so people would leave a restaurant saying I wrote a three-star review, but only gave two stars. But as an editor, I would never get rid of it. When you run a four-star review, it gets talked about all over the world." —The former Times restaurant critic and Gourmet editor isn't a fan of New York bagels or Yelp, either. [Daily Front Row]

The Blue Muse in Hayes Valley to Close, Become Muka

That weird diner along Grove Street near Gough, The Blue Muse (370 Grove Street), appears headed for closure, and news via the liquor licenses this a.m. is that restaurateur Jean-Luc Kayigire is relocating his dessert and wine bar, Muka, to the space. Kayigire opened Muka two years ago in the basement of the Alliance Francais, and the move makes some sense given the major foot traffic from symphony- and opera-goers on this block — a crowd Jardiniere is more than familiar with. Stay tuned for more about the opening at a later date.

Mountain Dew Introduces Kickstart, a Morning Soda

Officially endorsed by fedora-wearing, tattooed men.

For those of you who wake up and chug Red Bull (looking at you, Alex Stupak), PepsiCo's out to get you. The company is launching a new Mountain Dew drink that's intended for breakfast time. Kickstart is made with "real fruit juice" (read: 5 percent juice), "the right amount of kick" (a potentially lethal jolt of caffeine), and artificial sweeteners. Though Kickstart does have far less caffeine than energy drinks like Red Bell, PepsiCo's taken the liberty of labeling the two flavors "energizing orange citrus" and "energizing fruit punch," and has packaged it to look like Monster. Subtle. Maybe Taco Bell inspired this — in May, it introduced an awful "mixology" beverage called MTN DEW A.M., consisting of Mountain Dew and orange juice. Kickstart will be available nationwide starting February 25; it'll appear at college libraries and morning pregame parties on the 26th. [Earlier, Earlier, Earlier, AP]

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