1/22/2012 07:16:00 PM

Sneak Peek: Bay Area's 17 Hottest Openings of 2012

With the new year means new eats, many from big names in the restaurant world. Read on for details about the buzziest eateries coming our way:
Central Kitchen and Salumeria: Thomas McNaughton (of Flour + Water fame) is inching closer to a late February opening for his two new side-by-side ventures: Central Kitchen will be an American centered around an open kitchen. About a month later, he and his team will be opening Salumeria, an adjacent delicatessen and sandwich shop. Note: the forthcoming ventures in the neighboring Southern Exposure Building, Trick Dog and The Parlour by Humphry Slocombe, have been delayed due to need for more major seismic renovations (3000 20th St.).
Comal: Phish’s longtime manager John Palushka is breaking ground on this huge indoor/outdoor Downtown Berkeley restaurant venture serving traditional Mexican fare fused with NorCal sensibilities and ingredients. Former Delfina chef de cuisine Matt Gandin will run the kitchen and The Bon Vivants will curate the craft cocktail program, which will include, among other things, small-batch tequila and mezcals. It's slated to open in April (2020 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley).
Copita: Cookbook author and TV personality Joanne Weir will be partnering with restaurateur Larry Mindel (Poggio, Il Fornaio) for this all-day, seasonally driven tequileria and restaurant in Downtown Sausalito in the spring (739 Bridgeway, Sausalito).

Dixie: The first personal venture from fine-dining chef Joseph Humphrey (formerly of Cavallo Point and Meadowood) will be a decidedly more laid-back restaurant. Despite the name, the restaurant, which will take over the Pres a Vi space, won’t be exclusively Southern in its cuisine, though you can expect the region to influence the decor, drinks and hospitality. Humphrey is testing out his American menu, which will include housemade charcuterie and a specialty cheese program, in a series of pop-ups. The project has been delayed due to the constraints of working on federal land, but is looking likely for an early winter opening (1 Letterman Dr.).
French Blue: An all-star team comprised of restaurateur Stanley Morrison (formerly of Stars and Teatro ZinZanni), winemaker Leslie Rudd, architect Howard Backen and Noe Valley Bakery's Michael Gassen join forces at this forthcoming all-day Downtown St. Helena spot slated for March 15. Chef Philip Wang (Jardini√®re, Blackbird) will oversee the affordable, farm-to-table breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, sourced largely from the organic larder grown at nearby Rudd Farm & Orchards. Expect an all-Napa wine list, plus craft beers and cocktails (1429 Main St., St. Helena, 707-968-9290).
Goose & Gander: Former Martini House chef de cuisine Kelly McCown (most recently at Ella in Sacramento) is returning to his old St. Helena stomping ground that is being reborn this spring as an approachable NorCal take on a gastropub under new ownership of restaurateur Andrew Florsheim (1245 Spring St., St. Helena).
Hapa: Ritchie Nakano, chef-owner of the Ferry Building farmer’s market pop-up stand Hapa Ramen, will settle into a permanent restaurant space in the Western Addition (right next door to State Bird Provisions) sometime this spring. The 1,000-sq.-ft. space will be comprised of mainly counter seating and the menu will include his signature ramen staples, plus a small selection of rotating starters and sandwiches. He’ll continue to run the Hapa Ramen stand on Tuesday and Thursday (1527 Fillmore St.).
Mission Bowling Club: Anthony Myint (Mission Chinese Food, Commonwealth) will oversee the menu (“technique-driven comfort fare”) and cocktail program at this destination six-lane, ten-pin boutique bowling alley in the Mission, which will be rolling out sometime in the spring. Expect a large bar, a dining room tricked out with tufted banquettes, a mezzanine overlooking the lanes and an outdoor patio (3176 17th St.).
The Moss Room: The name will probably stay the same (for now), but Loretta Keller has turned over this subterranean sit-down restaurant to upstairs tenant Charles Phan (Slanted Door, Wo Hing), who has quickly reopened the joint for lunch only (seven days a week) with a revamped menu showcasing signature style - Californian cuisine with Vietnamese flair - such as imperial rolls, glass noodles and fried chicken with a spicy sriracha butter sauce. The wine list has also been tweaked to reflect Phan’s preference for food-friendly vino. Additional menu changes and expanded hours are expected to be rolled out in the coming months (55 Music Concourse Dr. in the California Academy of Sciences; 415-876-6121).
M.Y. China: May is the latest ETA for veteran TV personality Martin Yan’s ambitious authentic Chinese restaurant at the Westfield San Francisco Centre. The menu will feature the modern-day cuisine of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, much of which will be prepared in plain sight in a full exhibition kitchen (865 Market St., Restaurant Collection Under the Dome, Westfield San Francisco Centre).
Namu Gaji: The newest chip off the Namu block, this izakaya-inspired restaurant in the Mission from Dennis Lee and his brothers (who recently shuttered their Inner Richmond spot, but still run the Korean taco stand at the Ferry Building on Thursday) is slated for a late February opening. For a sneak preview of what’s going to be on the menu, check out one of the series of pop-up dinners at the Four Barrel Coffee bar leading up to the opening (3579 Dolores St.).
Redd Wood: Richard Reddington (of the acclaimed Redd) will be installing this more decidedly down-market Napa Valley pizzeria at the Hotel Luca, just down the street from his vaunted Yountville haunt. Offerings will include wood-fired pizzas, pastas and an approachable wine list. It's shooting to open January 25 (6755 Washington St., Yountville. 707-290-5030).
Rosa Mexicano: Coming our way is an outpost of the ever-expanding upscale, modern Mexican chainlet with high-profile branches in NYC, DC, Atlanta, Miami and LA. Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto) been hired to be the chain’s consulting chef in residence so look for regional, seasonal variations on the menu (1 Market St.).
Sweetwater Music Hall: Gordon Drysdale, who recently left his post with Bacchus Management (most notably responsible for Pizza Antica and Café des Amis), will be heading up the restaurant and on-site catering arm at the soon-to-be-resurrected legendary music club in Mill Valley. When it opens on January 27, the cafe will start out serving dinner and happyhour fare, but is expected to roll out breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch by the spring (19 Corte Madera Ave., Mill Valley).
St Vincent’s: David Lynch, wine director for Quince and Cotogna, will be expand his sphere of influence at this new casual, wine-centric 65-seat American osteria in the Mission (replacing Heart wine bar). Former Bar Tartine executive chef Christopher Kronner will be the consulting chef, responsible for masterminding the progressive pub-food menu, which will offer significantly more than usual wine bar nibbles. The wine list will consist of 100 bottles under $100, all of which can be had by the bottle or half-bottle (1270 Valencia St.).
Wise Sons Delicatessen: Sometime in February, Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman will take over the Mission’s former El Toyanense space for a brick-and-mortar home of their pop-up offering locovore-minded smoked, shmeared and pickled classic Jewish staples; P.S. the duo won’t give up their Tuesday market stand at the Ferry Building (3150 24th St.).

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