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Penrose in Oakland

Penrose's new dining room. 

Penrose
Oakland
At Charlie Hallowell’s (Pizzaiolo and Boot and Shoe Service) latest hot spot, wood-fueled flames leap in the open kitchen—only now they’re firing flatbreads instead of pizza, along with an array of fish, veggies, and meat. Seasonal Cal-Med stunners include fried brussels sprouts with honey mustard and a grilled half chicken that’s as good as any bird in town. Reservations aren’t taken, but there’s a big bar serving the newfangled cocktails that you’ve seen being made by those guys with muttonchops. 3311 Grand Ave. (near Elwood Ave.), 510-444-1649—J.S.

Iyasare
Berkeley
At his first personal project, chef Shotaro Kamio (Ozumo, Yoshi’s) uses a sparkling new kitchen in the former O Chamé space to cook up refined Japanese fare that’s rustic in its simplicity. From Kamio’s Tohoku region of Japan, try the fancified okonomiyaki with Dungeness crab, roasted miso eggplant, and a whole grilled branzino with cooked salmon roe spilling around it. In an East-meets-West nod, Ale Industries’ award-winning beers are on tap. 1830 4th St. (near Hearst Ave.), 510-845-8100—C.A.

La Nebbia
Noe Valley 
For authentic Italian, there is no place more beloved than La Ciccia, owned by Sardinian chef Massimiliano Conti and his wife and host, Lorella Degan. Which is why their second, more casual spot, located a kitty corner away, has been packed since day one. La Nebbia is all about pizzas (a popular one is topped with squid ink, pine nuts, raisins, anchovies, and fresh mozzarella), lasagnetta, and different levels of prosciutto. The Italian wine list is expectedly excellent. For dessert, the fresh ricottina with honey is essential. 1781 Church St. (near 30th St.), 415-874-9924S.D.

Torc
Napa
Chef Sean O’Toole’s (Bardessono, Quince) first solo venture exorcises a ghost of Napa’s past by expunging from the former Ubuntu space its fancy vegetarian airs. Instead, this menu is chock-full of meat and seafood offerings, such as Bodega Bay hirame crudo, Liberty Farms duck agnolotti, and a gorgeous whole roast chicken for two. Perch at the bar with some friends and order a bottle from the wine list, which reads like a who’s who of Napa (and then some). 1140 Main St. (near Pearl St.), 707-252-3292Katherine Guzman

 

Originally published in the February 2014 issue of San Francisco

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