The Top New Openings of the Month: May 2018

Sorrel’s scorza di fagioli

In my latest Time Out column, my top 5 openings of the month join other standout newcomers for a top 10 on where to eat now (article here):

Sorrel — Time Out Review

3228 Sacramento St., SF; 415-525-3765; Tuesday-Saturday 5-10pm.

The former Nico transformed to Sorrel this May, finely balancing neighborhood comfort with ambitious touches from CIA-grad chef Alexander (Alex) Hong. Pastas are decidedly California creative with Italian technique and al dente perfection, a skill chef Hong honed at none other than 3 Michelin-starred Quince. After chilled pea soup or bruleed foie gras parfait, try a smoked duck agnolotti that recalls comforting American barbecue or the oregano-doused scorza di fagioli (pasta and beans) with wild ramps and Meyer lemon that tastes like glorified childhood pasta. The potential for greatness is already here — consider this one to watch.

Birdsong’s halibut pomme souffle puffs

Birdsong  Time Out Review

1085 Mission St., SF; 415-369-9161; Tuesday-Thursday 5-8:30pm; Friday-Saturday 5-9:30pm.
In the lofty, striking former AQ space, Birdsong opened early May serving chef Chris Bleidorn’s upscale Pacific Northwest cuisine facing an open kitchen. A refined, changing 13-14 course tasting menu ($168) is paired with Pacific Northwest wines ($85) and features standouts like morel mushrooms stuffed with Sonoma lamb, asparagus and green almonds i in allium charcoal sauce. Wow moments come in bites like a halibut pommes soufflé puff that evokes fish & chips or a build-our-own Tsar Nicolai white sturgeon caviar lettuce wraps with accoutrements.

Dyafa’s cold mezze platter

Dyafa, Oakland — Time Out Review

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44 Webster St., Oakland; 510-250-9491; Tuesday-Friday 11am-2:30pm; Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-10pm.

With its boat and Bay-side setting best enjoyed from outdoor tables, James Beard Award semifinalist Reem Assil (of the acclaimed Reem’s California) and Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group transformed the former Haven in Jack London Square into the sunny tiles and blues of Dyafa this April. Assil’s modern Palestinian-Syrian cooking shines in Arabic breads like kohbz chickpea “pancakes” and mana’eesh bread, as well as in traditional mezze spreads like muhammara (roasted red pepper, pomegranate, walnut dip) or hummus kawarma topped with tender spiced lamb and dried lime.

Cento Osteria’s Parmigiana Pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant, oregano, basil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cento Osteria — Time Out Review

100 Brannan St., SF; 415-543-1000; Monday-Friday (aperitifs and bites 3:30-7pm; Monday-Thursday 5-10pm; Friday-Saturday 5-11pm; Sunday 5-9pm.

With Bay views from its Embarcadero setting and soon-to-open patio, Cento Osteria is the latest from Donato Scotti and his ever-growing Donato Restaurant Group, open this May. With chef Donato, the group’s executive chef Gianluca Guglielmi crafts a classic menu of wood-fired pizzas, housemade pastas, live fire grilled fish and meats. Regional Italian wines (many from small-production wineries) grappa and amari pair with margherita pizzas, wild boar pappardelle noodles in a sangiovese wine sauce and fresh sea bream cooked in soave white wine with artichokes and garlic.

Torching fresh coconut shavings on the Boom Box cocktail at Oakland’s Hello Stranger

Hello Stranger, Oakland — Time Out Review

1724 Broadway, Oakland; 510-947-9028; Monday-Saturday 4pm-2am.

Debuting in downtown Oakland on June 1st from industry vets Josh Trabulsi, Summer Jane Bell and Bill Stephens, Hello Stranger impresses with dramatic, backlit bar, lofty ceilings, DJ station and original brick walls in a 1907 building with sunny mezzanine and dancing downstairs. Crushable cocktails (some on draft or by the pitcher) please a range of palates, whether rosé four ways (frozen slushie, sparkling, spiked or still) or the balanced Hell’s Belles (La Luna mezcal, Campari, Cocchi Rosa Aperitivo with torched rosemary).