Readers’ Choice 2016
- Readers’ Choice 2016 | Eat, pray, shop — locally
- Synagogue Life
- Time to Celebrate
- Shop Till You Drop
- Health, Beauty & Fitness
- Business & Professional
Wise Sons, open seven days a week on 24th Street, with a bakery on Fillmore, also serves deli fare at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. It pairs traditional Jewish recipes with fresh California ingredients, making double-baked rye bread and pastrami in house.
In North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto, Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen bridges “the links between the Old Country and the New World,” according to the website, honoring Jewish immigrant culture while emphasizing fresh, seasonal fare.
Max’s, the South Bay winner with restaurants throughout the region, calls itself “a good place for a diet” and “a bad place for a diet,” with Chinese chicken salad in the former category and fat Reuben sandwiches and rich, layered desserts clearly in the latter. Its opera cafés provide arias in the evening.
24th Street: (415) 787-3354
Fillmore: (415) 872-9046
Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen
Perbacco “introduces urban San Francisco to the full range of flavors found in the Italian regions of Piemonte and Liguria, with a touch of France by way of Provence,” writes owner Umberto Gibin. Think house-cured salumi misti (Italian cold meats) or porcini and ricotta cannelloni.
Millennium, now in Oakland’s Rockridge area after 20 years in San Francisco, serves “globally inspired plant-based cuisine in an inviting upscale setting,” writes owner-manager Alison Bagby. “We work with small farms and our menu changes frequently to showcase the finest local, sustainable and organic produce.”
Evvia in downtown Palo Alto features Greek cuisine in a rustic setting, with copper cookware, a large wood table and a rustic stone fireplace. Favorites include moussaka, artichoke souvlaki (with eggplant and yogurt) and mesquite-grilled lamb chops.
Located in the Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, Murray Circle offers a porch setting with sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a dining room with cozy fireplaces and hands-on cooking classes. On the website are recipes for chilled tomato soup with grilled grapes, bouillabaisse and pumpkin bread pudding.
Murray Circle Restaurant
Italian & Pizza
Delfina, with a flagship restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District, serves a seasonally changing menu with a large wine selection, featuring wines from Italy. The four pizzerias in the city and on the Peninsula serve Neapolitan-inspired fare with changing selections of antipasto and small plates.
Serving both deep-dish and thin-crust pizza, with a multitude of toppings from anchovies to roasted zucchini, The Star on Grand in Oakland also offers such starters as veggie-stuffed mushrooms and Caprese salad. Desserts and a full bar, with draft beer, round off the selections.
Amici’s serves “authentic East Coast-style artisanal pizza,” says owner Peter Cooperstein. “We use the same pizza dough recipe, pizza sauce recipe and the same imported cheeses that we used when we opened in 1987.” Launched in San Mateo, Amici’s now has restaurants throughout the region.
Purchased by the Rowe family in 1986, Mulberry Street Pizza expanded its menu to feature family and customer favorites, including such signature pies as Blue Hawaiian, Three Beer and Pizza al Pesto. The Greek Pizza is a collaboration with the Musco Olive Co. in Tracy.
Restaurant: (415) 552-4055
Pizzeria: Various locations
The Star on Grand
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria
Mulberry Street Pizza
Hardly a hamburger joint, San Francisco’s Zuni Café, winner of a James Beard Foundation award, has among its offerings a house-ground, mesquite-grilled burger on grilled rosemary focaccia with aioli, with such extras as blue cheese or cheddar, grilled onions and shoestring potatoes. Add arugula, Caesar or frisée salad.
Barney’s opened in Oakland in 1978 and now has multiple locations, including four in the East Bay. It prides itself on high-quality beef burgers, as well as veggie, turkey and salmon varieties. Also on the menu: kosher hot dogs, a Middle Eastern plate, and truffle, spicy or sweet potato fries.
At The Counter, with restaurants throughout the region, customers can fill out a checklist to build their own burgers or order off the menu. In addition to hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, burger options include bison, chicken, turkey and vegan, with a variety of buns, including gluten-free.
Phyllis’ Giant Burgers, with four North Bay locations, serves traditional burgers in giant and junior sizes, or clients can choose veggie, turkey, chicken or fish variations, served with garlic, chili or curly fries. Specials include teriyaki, Cajun and pesto burgers.
Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers
Phyllis’ Giant Burgers
Family owned and operated since 1952, San Francisco’s Cal-Mart features fresh produce delivered six days a week, a full-service deli with made-to-order sandwiches and hot entrees, plus a bakery and a butcher.
Berkeley Bowl, which opened as a small market in 1977, specializes in high-quality produce. Now with two larger stores, it also features sushi and Asian foods, a delicatessen, a bakery, plus a café at Berkeley Bowl West.
Market Hall Foods has two branches — one in Oakland’s Rockridge Market Hall, and one in Berkeley (formerly The Pasta Shop) — as well as an online store and catering. The proverbial European market offers everything needed for a special meal or a casual picnic, from fresh produce and pasta to wines to baked goods.
Draeger’s, specializing in gourmet fare, has three stores on the Peninsula and another in Danville. The stores offer more than 300 cheeses and 2,500 wines, plus a bakery, cookware and cooking classes as well as a restaurant in the San Mateo store.
Mollie Stone’s, a North Bay favorite, also has markets in San Francisco and on the Peninsula. It caters to kosher customers, and the Palo Alto store, with a kosher butcher, has “the largest year-round selection of kosher foods west of New Jersey,” according to the website.
Market Hall Foods
Oakland: (510) 250-6000
Berkeley: (510) 250-6004
Mollie Stone’s Markets
House of Bagels brought its recipe from Brooklyn to San Francisco in 1962, boiling the bagels in water before baking them on stone. The shop, which houses a New York-style deli, bakes its breads daily, including challah and rye, as well as its cookies and cragels.
Beauty’s Bagel Shop in Oakland takes its inspiration from Montreal, “where bagels are rolled by hand, boiled in honey-sweetened water and baked in a wood-fired oven,” according to the website. Beyond the bagel, Beauty’s offers smoked trout salad and organic fried chicken.
Twenty-year-old Izzy’s, a popular kosher eatery in Palo Alto, with an East Palo Alto branch, offers 17 bagel varieties, plus lox, shmears, salads and cookies. It also serves breakfast and lunch and caters at homes, synagogues and Silicon Valley businesses.
The bagels at Barton’s, a new winner in San Anselmo, range from classics to chocolate, sun-dried tomato, honey wheat, Asiago and jalapeño varieties. The bagels are boiled, writes one customer on Yelp. “This is what makes the crust so chewy while the inside is soft and tender.”
House of Bagels
Beauty’s Bagel Shop
Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels
Palo Alto: (650) 329-0700
East Palo Alto: (650) 322-5700
Navarro Vineyards, in the Anderson Valley town of Philo, is a family-owned winery that sells directly to the public. Established in 1974, Navarro produces such varietals as gewürztraminer, riesling, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, pinot blanc and pinot noir.
Calling itself “the only urban kosher winery operating in America since Prohibition,” Covenant Winery moved from Napa Valley to a 7,000-square-foot warehouse in Berkeley two years ago, producing red, white and rosé wines that are kosher for Passover and under the supervision of the Orthodox Union.
Housed in the historic Novitiate building in downtown Los Gatos, Testarossa houses a tasting room, facilities for weddings and special events, and a wine bar, serving cheese and charcuterie with live music several nights a week. The company, founded in a garage in 1993, specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay.
Hagafen Cellars, a perennial readers’ choice founded in 1979, produces gold medal-winning Napa Valley varietals that are kosher for Passover and year-round. Owner Ernie Weir is involved in both sides of wine production: grape growing and winemaking. Tours are by appointment.