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Nov 28, 2006 02:15 AM

What happened to Vanni's?

Went by Vanni's Innovative Cuisine on Dwight in Berkeley today and it appears to be closed for good (Paper over the windows, no signs.
Anybody know?

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  1. Do not fear! Vannis' will be back, in a new locale, near Lalime's on Gilman. A waitress there told us so about 2 months ago. We had questioned her about a closing rumor we'd heard.

    The new Vanni's will reopen around April, she told us. (we have been regulars there for some time, and will miss them in the meantime!)


    1. What kind of food? Prices? I live near Lalime's and would love to have a good new place there.

      6 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          That seems an unfair description--Vanni's was not some hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant serving overly sweet pad thai and watered down flavorless curries; it was a welcome addition to West Berkeley before the intersection of Dwight and San Pablo heated up, before the hill-dwelling folk were attracted to the area by Sea Salt and Trieste. Vanni always billed his food as "innovative Thai," a description I think the food lived up to. Was there a specific menu item you think qualified as "Americanized Thai"?

          1. re: Leadbelly

            Personally I much prefer Champa Garden in Oakland or Thai House Express in SF.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I agree Thai House Express is great, but I don't think its really comparable to Vanni, in that their menus are/were really pretty different, not to mention different price ranges, decor, atmosphere, service, etc.

        2. re: Glencora

          I think Vanni would be a nice addition to that neighborhood--sort of mid-range prices, "innovative Thai" (but not "authentic", I guess, though I am not the best judge of that!), as they billed themselves. Definitely not as pricey as Lalime's, but pricier than Mama Lan's, for example.

          1. re: Glencora

            Vanni was one of my worst meals of 2006. I recall an eggplant dish that was saltier than a salt lick, and an asparagus dish that was so awful I couldn't eat more than one bite (and I LOVE asparagus and eggplant). Perhaps it was an "off night," and Vanni clearly has its fans, but when all of the dishes are dreadful I'm reluctant to give a restaurant a second chance.

            OTOH, I adore Andy and Cindy's Thai Cuisine, the Farmers' Market stall that is an offshoot of Vanni.