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Rockridge fish mkt.? and lunch, Monterey Mk., Breads of India?

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Monterey Fish is great, but would like to try another source. What is the name and location of a very good fish store in Rockridge that I might have read about and certainly forgot?
Also, maybe lunch at the new place next to Citron? Or a good pizza place near there? We could go to the Cheeseboard if necessary (not exactly punishment), since we'll be shopping for groceries in Berkeley.

Which reminds me.....I've been wondering why I haven't read any praise for Monterey Mkt. here. I love the Bowl, but sometimes find other things at M.M. that I can't get at the Bowl. For some reason the pears are often better, the organic greens much cheaper, and they carry organic free range eggs from small producers, if you get there soon enough after they are delivered.

Another question: How about the new place that the owners of Breads of India opened. Anyone been? Did you like it?

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  1. c
    Caitlin McGrath

    Um...I can't remember the names, but you're probably thinking of either the fish market next to Ver Brugge meats on College at Alcatraz, or the one in the Rockridge Public Market.

    Of course there's Zachary's pizza in Rockridge, but if you're thinking along Cheese Board lines, Cafe Rustica, on College nearer to Broadway, has good thin-crusted pizzas with a variety of interesting topping combos.

    Re Monterey Market, I tend to think it's a size and location thing. Berkeley Bowl is bigger and so might attract more attention from those who don't live in the immediate vicinity. Also on a major artery street and more centrally located. Among locals, it always seemed to be a geographic divide, i.e., North Berkeleyans frequent Monterey, South Berkeleyans/North Oaklanders frequent the Bowl. At least in the past, Monterey has had a superior selection of organic stuff I think. When I was a young child (and the bowling alley was very much still a bowling alley), my mom used to schlep us across town from N. Oakland on the bus to shop at Monterey Market.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Thanks Caitlin, I'm not sure which it would be, but I suspect the one in the Public Mkt. We'll check it out , as well as the Pizza Rustica at College near Broadway.

      1. re: Ann Leneave
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        Barry Kaufman

        I write the food column for the Rockridge News. I'm very familiar with all of the restaurants and food shops along College Avenue. The Rockridge Fish Market is way over priced ----- you may want to check out Ver Brugge ---- ask for Gene --- they will even poach a whole salmon for you. Ver Brugge has their own commercial fishing boat - the crabs they have are cooked in the store. Now for the best selection of fish and seafood for the price you have to Ranch 99 in El Cerrito - live lobsters at 7.00 a poound compared to 12.00 in most fish stores. I live on the same block as Zackary's Pizza - I'm a NYer - as far as I'm concerned it is NOT pizza ----. A new Thai restaurant just opened on College Ave - Bangkok - little overpriced but a good choice - not spicy enough for my taste.

        1. re: Barry Kaufman

          Thanks...I bought veal shanks at Ver Brugge meat mkt. not too long ago. Delicious!
          We went to Rockridge on Fri. The fish is expensive but does look gorgeous. If Ver Brugge is the one with their own boat, it's the one I was thinking about. I'll try it next. At Rockridge, we bought the prepared rolled salmon fillet stuffed with leeks and tarragon. I would highly recommend it! It was not too expensive for 1/2 lb. and was plenty for 2 for lunch with jumbo asparagus (from B. Bowl) with sping onions and hedgehog mushroom butter sauce, and a green salad and crusty bread. My husband seemed happy.
          We tried the Ranch 99 Mkt. last week, but all we bought was stuff like Japanese dried seaweed, etc. The fish looked pretty beaten up, and the tanks were cloudy with too many fish crowded in. I know it's a lot cheaper, but the fishing methods may be barbaric. Does that sound crazy? As I get more sensitive to environmental issues and more concerned about the purity of the water the fish is fished from, and even though it may seem nuts, I felt sorry for those poor fish frantically swimming through that murky water. (Hard for a New Yorker to fathom? Granted, I'm greatly influenced by the 15 yrs. spent in No. CA.)

          1. re: Ann Leneave

            Each area of Berkeley has it's own flair. Having lived on Hopkins Street for many years in the mid 80's when Monterey Market was "the place" as Berkeley Bowl was evolving, they have kept a chameleon quality about themselves. Tokoyo Fish Market is a pearl in the sea of "who's who".You follow the mood you are in, both in the atmosphere of the day and what captures your whim when there. Every place in Berkeley has it's potential.

            1. re: Ann Leneave

              There is an interesting thread on the General Topics board re: Fish that 'tastes like dirt'. No, you're not crazy. I worked as a wholesale distributor of seafood for the past 8 years and it was often an issue for our chefs.

              I agree that Rockridge Fish Market does a great job, as does Monterey Fish. There is another option, though not retail. Many of the vendors to restaurants will sell direct to the public. Typically they are not set up for retail, which means you will likely have to wait, shop very early and perhaps deal with being treated a bit 'rougher' than you would at a retail counter. However, if you develop a relationship (this is key) with a vendor and call ahead (pick a time they can deal with you, maybe 9-11 AM) you can gain access to a huge variety of high quality product at potentially a better price. Unfortunately for those of you in the East Bay, most of these places of business are in San Francisco (including Monterey's processing plant, and don't even ask! They will direct you to their retail store).

              Try Royal Hawaiian, A. LaRocca, Osprey, The Fresh Fish Company (they also sell Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market), North Atlantic or Costarella Seafood. They all sell top quality. PLEASE don't tell them I sent you!

              1. re: gini

                Thank you, thank you! I promise not to let on how I happened to find my way into a wholesale mkt. They can treat me as "roughly" as they want, as long as I can find some pristine fish at a good price. I can't go all that often anyway, since I live in St. Helena, but we food shop for entertainment and will enjoy the adventure. This may be the closest I've come to really fresh since we lived on the ocean in VA. and I met the boats at the dock with my pail. We used to get the freshest shad roe by buying the female shad and.... , oh gosh. I'm so hungry for shad roe.

                And yes, I did see that discussion about "dirty fish". How timely! Thanks for making me feel better about being so "picky".

                1. re: gini

                  Thank you, thank you! I promise not to let on how I happened to find my way into a wholesale mkt. They can treat me as "roughly" as they want, as long as I can find some pristine fish at a good price. I can't go all that often anyway, since I live in St. Helena, but we food shop for entertainment and will enjoy the adventure. This may be the closest I've come to really fresh since we lived on the ocean in VA. and I met the boats at the dock with my pail. We used to get the freshest shad roe by buying the female shad and.... , oh gosh. I'm so hungry for shad roe.

                  And yes, I did see that discussion about "dirty fish". How timely! Thanks for making me feel better about being so "picky".

                2. re: Ann Leneave

                  Anne. You need to go by Tokoyo Fish Market on San Pablo Avenue just west of University & tell them what you are craving! They will get it for you & at a very good price.They are more use to wholesale than retail, in venue. You will get lost in the "pharaphenalia" in the store. Monterey Market is more apt to locate important vegetable matter than others. They stay within that thought pattern of one-on-one. I use to "have" to shop there years ago & they still remember me. It's all in reference. Check it out!

          2. Try Tokyo Fish on San Pablo in Berkeley - or Ranch 99 Market in Richmond, both have wonderful fish at better prices than Monterey.

            1. Ann, has the new place from the Breads of India owners actually opened? They've been delayed since last summer, but I haven't walked by in the last few weeks to check it out.

              I've heard good things about the new place next to Citron (A Cote). I peeked at the menu and it looks very tasty.

              BTW, I love Monterey Market. However, recently I've noticed that some of their produce isn't always fresh (very bruised fruit, occasional mold as you get deeper into a bin). Anyone else had the same experience?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Arden

                Arden,
                I have always noticed that the vegetables can be in better shape at Berkeley Bowl, but it doesn't seem to be a given. I'm not sure that it is less or more that way of late. I like to go both places if time allows. If not, I usually choose the Bowl, but miss the eggs (my present favorites are from Watsonville) and the wonderful bargins sometimes available at M.M., Catherine Brandel, who used to be chef at Chez Panisse Cafe, and shopped there often, told me that Bill has a soft spot for small farmers and buys things he doesn't need. Hence the piles of Japanese Eggplant for 39 cents a lb. and such things.

              2. c
                Cheryl Pochapin

                That new Indian place (at Shattuck & Virginia) by the Breads of India folks hasn't opened yet. I walked by on Friday and it's in the same stage as it has been for months - ie - paper on the windows, a sign saying they'd be open in September(!) and I swear the ladder in the back hasn't been moved in months. Doesn't look like it's opening any time soon.

                1. j
                  Jonathan King

                  I prefer Monterey Fish because it's a serendipitous experience: the selection is small (depending on what's super-fresh) but very choice, and as long as I don't feel I just *have* to have snapper, or whatever, I'm always pleased with the selection.Berkeley Bowl is runner-up, and I'll only use the fish counter at Ranch 99 for salmon, crab, and trout. The condition of many of the other species there is just too dubious to my eye...

                  I live near Monterey Market so get there more often than the Bowl, but I will use just about any excuse to get down to the Bowl as well. They're not really comparable experiences in my opinion, especially since the Bowl now carries just about anything you might need in the way of non-food items, whereas Monterey's selection of household goods etc. is still very small. I prefer Monterey for potatoes, chiles, mushrooms, eggs, and baby veggies; the Bowl is better for bread, fruit, dried staples (nuts, flours, etc.), and a number of other things that don't come to mind at the moment. Rarely if ever do I finish a run to Monterey and then decide I've just got to cross town to pick up another key item at the Bowl ... although I will if it means I can avoid stepping into Andronico's...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Jonathan King

                    I would certainly agree with your observations. I might add that Berekely Bowl is a better source for coffee, dairy products, and has Niman Ranch beef, lamb, and pork, good olives in bulk,etc. They carry Rustica d' Abruzzo dried pasta in bulk too. Their canned goods, etc. keep improving.

                    Last night I found some incredibly fresh goose eggs that made great scrambled eggs with yellow foot mushrooms this morning, along with biscuits made with their red wheat flour that you grind fresh in the store. Also they had a new egg supplier for free range/organic eggs. I am never truly happy unless I can go to both these great places, but if I have to choose, I go to the Bowl.

                    1. re: Ann Leneave

                      Re: Berkley Bowl, Rustica d' Abruzzo dried pasta in bulk

                      Can you tell me how much this costs per pound or whatever? Thanks

                      1. re: Anne H.

                        Anne, I think it is $2 something a lb. I'll look next time I'm there.

                        1. re: Anne H.

                          The price of the pasta is $2.49 lb. at the Bowl.

                          1. re: Ann L.

                            Thats a deal, thanks. I usually see it for $4. Worth stocking up.