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Robert Lauriston's New Restaurant in East Bay - "Locanda da Eva"

Robert, could this be the true reason for your new positive outlook on life? ;-)

Congratulations and good luck on your new endeavor!!!

From the Chronicle's "Inside Scoop" section -

The space housing Zax Tavern, Mazzini Trattoria and, originally, Casa de Eva (2826 Telegraph Ave.) has sat vacant for more than a year since the last tenant, Maritime East, closed. Now, an intrepid out-of-work technology writer is taking a stab at the space.

Robert Lauriston, who has also written occasional restaurant reviews for SF Weekly, hopes to open Locanda da Eva by April. The first-time restaurateur is refurbishing the space, taking it back to its Mazzini decor and putting in new flooring. To head the kitchen, he's brought in Alex Placencia, formerly of Miss Pearl's Jam House in Oakland and Specchio in San Francisco. The fare will be traditional Italian, with lots of pasta dishes, seafood, Roman-style pizzas made in the restaurant's existing wood-fired oven and, of course, tiramisu.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

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  1. mazel tov! can't wait to try it!

    1. I really loved Mazzini and went there often. Can't wait to try this new place! I have read others say that the space is cursed but people said that of the former Grasshopper place which is now Wood Tavern so. . .it isn't the space, it's the people behind the space. . .I hope, hope, hope!!! My only words of wisdom would be to make sure service is on point. . I think that's what ended up sinking Mazzini in the end. . or at least it was for me. . I loved the food but eventually could not get past the service (or lack there of).

      Good LUCK!

      3 Replies
      1. re: pastryqueen

        That space is cursed? Casa de Eva was there for DECADES!

        1. re: dlglidden

          For that matter, Grasshopper was quite successful and closed because the owners had young children and were tired of the long hours, not because there was anything wrong with the restaurant.

          1. re: dlglidden

            Casa de Eva might have been there for decades but the building has not been very lucky for restaurants since then. . that fact has even been mentioned on this board a few times.

        2. Can't wait to visit his restaurant; totally trust his reviews. Good job and best of luck! Hey, need any restaurant help? Love Chowhound and Robert's responses. Seriously.

          Diane

          1. I don't know if it explains the positive outlook, but it might explain the interest in wood-burning ovens. Good luck, Robert!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yes, I am looking forward to the best wood-oven pizza in the Bay Area.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                That was immeadiately what I thought of too! All the best of luck, Robert, and I'll be in to try the pizza. If it is up to your own standards, it should be terrific.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  If you've ever looked at his personal web site, he's long maintained a list of pizza places that he likes. The wood-burning oven inquiry was surely part market research, and part personal interest. If anyone will get pizza right, it'll be him.

                2. Kudos on the new endeavor. I'm looking forward to hanging out at the bar...

                  1. Have to say I really appreciate the tip of the hat to Casa de Eva.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: lexdevil

                      Me too, I grew up going to Casa de Eva.

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Me three. I must be the last person on this board to find out about this - congratulations Robert! I worked near there when Casa de Eva was in its heyday and got burritos there so many times I couldn't count. Now I work near there again and I'm thrilled he's opening up a new place and acknowledged the history there. Very classy.

                    2. Best of luck on the new gig. Yet another good reason for me to explore the East Bay.

                      1. Good luck! I look foward to the opening!

                        1. Robert,
                          That is wonderful and exciting news! I wish you great success...I can't wait for a celebratory "Chowdown"

                          1. Good Luck, I will be in for dinner.

                            1. I don't want to infringe the rules against marketing, so I'll just say thanks for the interest and kind words.

                              I guess I'm allowed to answer factual questions. Yes, we'll be hiring, probably mid-March if we don't run into any delays.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Robert,
                                Will you be running a blog about your efforts?
                                If not, please keep a diary that you can share with us some time down the road.

                                1. re: steve h.

                                  Yes. See locandadaeva.com in a few days.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Interesting name. What was your inspiration?

                                    1. re: steve h.

                                      Either Robert is paying homage to a gone but beloved Berkeley landmark restaurant at that site for over 30 years,"The name ― Locanda de Eva ― seems a reference to an earlier restaurant tenant for the space, Casa de Eva." or he is a closet Peronista.

                                      1. re: wolfe

                                        Many levels of ambiguity. Eve's Inn? My Italian/Latin is pathetic.

                                        Edited to add: "Robert's" would be a good name, too. The owner's name at the top of the masthead works for me.

                                      2. re: steve h.

                                        It's a sort of tribute to the two restaurants that did well in that space: Eva from Casa da Eva and Locanda from Zax Tavern.

                                        Zax's chef and pastry chef, Barbara Mulas and her husband Mark Drazek, are now at Sidebar.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          It's always a good idea to channel some of that success.

                                          Back in the day, the Washington Square Bar and Grill was rebranded "The Washbag" by its fans. As you know, it was an insider thing, a sign of affection if you will. May "Locanda Diva" generate the same affection. Your tentative food lineup is right in my wheelhouse. Deb and I are looking forward to a nice meal at your new shop.

                                2. Robert, good luck and lots of patience. Are you planning on a teeny tiny spot on the menu for those of us who love innards? A plate of good Trippa alla Fiorentina on a day like today or Lingua al Giardino with a salad, when the days turn warmer.... Heck, I know I'm just daydreaming, but don't worry - I alreay like your joint anyway :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Bigos

                                    That's up to the chef, but we were at Incanto the other night and he's as into that stuff as I am.

                                  2. Congratulations, Robert, and good luck on this new venture. I will definitely come by to try out a restaurant opened by of my favorite Chow.com posters.

                                    1. Awesome news -- good luck!

                                      1. Looks like you can get an early taste of Robert's food at the A Donkey and Goat Winery shindig this weekend. http://www.adonkeyandgoat.com/openhou... Wish I could go, but I'm working. Love their wine, and I'd love a preview of Locanda da Eva.

                                        -----
                                        Locanda da Eva
                                        2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: lexdevil

                                          No octopus or lamb sausages, sorry. The menu (subject to last-minute changes) is:

                                          - pork liver pâté with pickled vegetables
                                          - fresh ricotta on crostini with roasted carrots and marinated beets
                                          - tortilla Española with spinach, mushrooms, fontina, and Romesco sauce
                                          - deviled eggs with roasted pepper, capers, and chicken liver
                                          - pork spareribs with rosemary, garlic, arugula, and lemon

                                          1. All the best to you Robert...that is awesome!
                                            Beach Chick

                                            1. I have enjoyed reading your reviews over the years as well, and I wish you the very best for your new venture, Robert.

                                              1. Note that locanda de eva has a facebook page (linked to its website) that is kind of entertaining. You can follow the progress and get some insight into what Robert is going through in planning and opening the restaurant.

                                                  1. re: pininex

                                                    Yeah, that's Craig Stoll's working title for his new place: http://7x7.com/blogs/bits-bites/delfi...

                                                    Locanda ("inn" or "tavern") is a common way to start restaurant names in Italy. There used to be a Locanda Olmo in Berkeley and a Locanda San Pietro in SF. Los Angeles and New York current have at least three each.

                                                    1. re: wolfe

                                                      Thanks, wolfe. I see a thin, Roman-style pizza in my future.

                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                        It's not necessarily going to be Roman-style, just more in that direction as opposed to the Neapolitan style that most places are doing these days.

                                                        Ristorante Ideale in North Beach started doing Roman-style pizza at some point in recent years. The chef's family has a pizzeria in Trastevere. Worth a try if you're pining for Baffetto.

                                                        -----
                                                        Ideale
                                                        1315 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Thanks for the tip. I'm a fan of Ideale. I get my Baffetto fix every March. Looking forward to dropping in on your new shop come August.

                                                          -----
                                                          Ideale
                                                          1315 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                                    2. Here's a nice update, courtesy of Eater, of Locanda da Eva:

                                                      http://sf.eater.com/archives/2010/06/...

                                                      I fear I may not be able to get a table come August.

                                                      -----
                                                      Locanda da Eva
                                                      2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                      28 Replies
                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                        Outside of the bar area, I only see 4-tops. Maybe it's just the photos but I don't see any deuces in the main dining areas.

                                                        1. re: Scott M

                                                          We have 14 two-tops and 17 four-tops. Pretty much the same seating plan as Zax Tavern and Mazzini.

                                                            1. re: Cindy

                                                              Just dinner to start. As of July 20th we'll be open 5pm-midnight Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm Sunday, closed Mondays.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Wow, open until midnight? Serving food until then?

                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                  No surprise. As I remarked a while back, Robert is opening exactly the restaurant he'd want to be a regular at, which includes staying open late.

                                                                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Bummer about Monday. Hope up the line if things go well you consider it. So many good places are closed Mondays. Part of my allegiance to the Lalime group of restaurants is the fact most are open Monday.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    Those hours confuse me a bit, as it seems like the idea of being open late would be to be able to provide food for people wishing to dine any time, but being closed on Monday would seem to go against that.

                                                                    Then again, Robert's much-beloved Zuni has somewhat similar dinner hours

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Zuni Cafe
                                                                    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                    1. re: vulber

                                                                      Among other things, Zuni is a fine refuge after theater/music. Is Locanda da Eva situated to do the same in Berkeley?

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Zuni Cafe
                                                                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                      Locanda da Eva
                                                                      2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                      1. re: vulber

                                                                        What is confusing about any business wanting to have one day off every week, and what better day for a restaurant than a Monday. Aside from the fact that everyone deserves at least a day off a week, being "dark" on Monday does not mean that principals or employees of the business are not regrouping or working behind the scenes.

                                                                        Do you have any appreciation of the costs to start a business, let alone keep it open and staffed seven days a week. Give Lauriston and associates a break, maybe after they start recouping their start-up costs, become established in the market, and begin to foresee a continuing positive revenue flow for the future, maybe they will extend their hours.

                                                                          1. re: ChinoWayne

                                                                            I totally understand being closed on Mondays, it's more the staying open until midnight during the week that I don't understand.

                                                                            All of the sit-down restaurants which I can think of that are open until at least 12am during the week (NOPA, Beretta, Heaven's Dog, Globe), are all open on Monday, seeming to indicate that if there is a strong enough crowd to turn a sufficient profit between 10pm-12am Tuesday-Thursday, there will also be a strong enough crowd to turn a sufficient profit on Monday. Restaurants that are open late during the week often cater to the industry crowd, who is looking for a bite to eat after work, and because so many restaurants are closed on Mondays, Monday is often industry night at those restaurants that are open.

                                                                            Of course, I'm sure Robert has a good reason.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Heaven's Dog
                                                                            1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                                                            1. re: vulber

                                                                              That area has decent parking, and nothing remotely near that's open late. It's better to establish yourself as 'late night' and scale back than start normal and open up. I wouldn't care to predict if the late hours stick, but I certainly agree with the strategy.

                                                                              1. re: vulber

                                                                                San Francisco = different demographics than Berkeley.

                                                                                Best of luck with the new venture, Senor Lauriston. I hope I can darken your doorway at some point, but 2 kids under the age of 3 does not make late night dining (or any sort of reasonably fine dining) very attainable.

                                                                                1. re: Eugene Park

                                                                                  Maybe Robert will add a kid's menu with chicken fingers and mac and cheese to the menu (pdf)
                                                                                  http://locandadaeva.com/locanda_sampl...

                                                                                  Pasta, pizza and dessert is kid-friendly.

                                                                                  Other significant links
                                                                                  http://locandadaeva.com/
                                                                                  http://www.opentable.com/locanda-da-eva
                                                                                  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Berkele...

                                                                                  No Twitter?

                                                                                  Just a note, fwiw, I really dislike American sites that put significant information in foreign languages such as on the facebook info page. It's not cute. It is only confusing and annoying. Maybe I might be interested in 'Entrada librea' but I have no clue what that is ... and as a result won't be updating the restaurant and bar database with that information which might be useful to others.

                                                                                  I can NOT believe opentable screwed up its wesbsite by removing the jump by alphabet. Now you are forced to scroll down a huge list. They should fire their web designer or whoever made that decision.

                                                                                  Anyawy ... deep breath ....

                                                                                  Sample menu looks interesting. For those not following links other significant points

                                                                                  Lots of vegetarian dishes or prepared vegetarian on request

                                                                                  All produce is sourced from local farmers’ markets, directly from local farms, or from local distributors with a commitment to quality and sustainability.

                                                                                  Except as noted, all dairy products are from Straus Family Creamery.

                                                                                  All seafood is certified sustainable or is on Seafood Watch’s “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” list.

                                                                                  All fowl and meat is naturally raised, pastured, and antibiotic- and hormone-free.

                                                                                  And to prepare people mentally, it seems the restaurant is following the recent trend to charge for bread. It is Acme though.

                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    I'm sure Robert can clarify, but I read the note on the menu about bread in a different way. I understood it to mean that Acme bread will be served on request, and olive oil can be provided for $2.00.

                                                                                    1. re: jillyju

                                                                                      Re the bread - that's how I read it too.... charge for olive oil but not bread, you just have to ask for bread.

                                                                                    2. re: rworange

                                                                                      Charging for bread is common practice in Rome.

                                                                            2. re: rworange

                                                                              Dopo, Pizzaiolo, and Riva Cucina are all closed Sundays, so I figured it made sense to close Mondays instead. Eventually we might do seven days.

                                                                              We'll be on Opentable. They're coming to install next Wednesday.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                Yes, up on OT now. However, in addition to showing no Monday availability the next few weeks after opening day, OT also has Sundays blocked out (though reservations are otherwise available on weekend days). Is this a mistake on their part, or has schedule changed? (Website still says open Sundays)

                                                                            3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Robert,
                                                                              Are you planning on using Opentable for reservations?

                                                                              1. re: Scott M

                                                                                Re OT and reservations: I will be in town in August and really wanted to try and secure a reservation. So, I can report that the Facebook page says they aren't taking reservations yet, and there is no mention of Locanda de Eva on Open Table...

                                                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            Robert, I wish you the best of success. You have earned considerable respect from me and many others on Chowhound and beyond, and it's your turn to live and enjoy a wonderful goal.
                                                                            P.S. I still pimp your rice dish; always a hit.

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              Okay, rice dish recipe, please.

                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                yo...yo...yo!!! LOVE Robert's Cilantro Rice dish and recommend to many here...! Wow...he opened a restaurant? And I was in SF 3 weeks ago...<groan> well, Robert, I join many others in wishing you the BEST ... not an easy time to start any kind of new biz but you're up to it!

                                                                        1. As a night owl, I applaud the late hours. That is happy making.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: happenstance

                                                                            Ditto re night owl predilections!

                                                                          2. Don't know if I missed it elsewhere in this thread. The hours are

                                                                            Dinner: Sunday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
                                                                            Tuesday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 12:00am

                                                                            Does anyone know if food is served from 10 pm - midnight?

                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                              From the restaurant website ( http://locandadaeva.com ):

                                                                              hours will be: Tues.-Sat. 5pm-midnight, Sunday 5pm-10pm, closed Mondays

                                                                              Is there any reason to think food would not be served throughout those hours?

                                                                              1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                                Both opentable and the website follow that with a second line as I have in the post you responded to

                                                                                Dinner: Sunday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
                                                                                Tuesday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 12:00am

                                                                                If the second line just refers to bar hours and no food is served from 10 pm to midnight, it really no longer qualifies as a late night restuarant. There are a ton of places you can get a drink after 10 pm.

                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                  how are those different from each other? why would the second line refer to bar hours?

                                                                                  1. re: vulber

                                                                                    Well, then what the hell is happening between 10 and midnight?

                                                                                    The site is very SPECIFC about dinner hours. It is unclear about those other two hours. It doesnt 't even really specify those are the hours for the bar. So what is it? I can't think a typo as it is repeated in the opentable info

                                                                                    I was just tryig to update the restaurants and bars database with the current info. If dinner or food is only served until 10, then I will remove the late night flag.

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      huh? The website section you quote says that dinner starts at five nightly, ends at ten on Sunday, and at midnight on the other nights they are open (Tues-Sat). I think you've been in Guatemala too long and are forgetting your English. :-) (although admittedly the formatting could be a bit better, though I think the meaning is clear).

                                                                                      1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                        Ah, you are right. Formatting. Anyway Robert answered it.

                                                                              2. re: rworange

                                                                                We'll have a limited bar menu from 10pm to midnight. Pizzas, cold appetizers, salads, and desserts for sure. Other items to be determined. I'll update the Web site and OT to make that clear, thanks.

                                                                              3. Has anyone reviewed this restaurant? I am reading more about hours, etc than food. How about a review from someone that doesn't know Robert?

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ola

                                                                                  Restaurant hasn't opened yet.
                                                                                  "As of July 20th we'll be open 5pm-midnight Tuesday-Saturday, 5pm-10pm Sunday, closed Mondays."
                                                                                  Robert Lauriston Jun 29, 2010
                                                                                  Until then we have nothing else to talk about.
                                                                                  P.S. Not know Robert, hardly probable.

                                                                                  1. re: ola

                                                                                    And please .... anyone who goes ... start oa new thread.

                                                                                  2. Locanda de Eva, Berkeley, CA What a dissapointment! The fish was seriously overcooked, the pizza was burned, but limp and not cooked through. Good beans as a side. Indifferent dessert. But great waiter. I felt embarrassed for him, having to serve such awful food.

                                                                                    1. We took my parents last weekend and our experience was a solid neighborhood type place. The fish was a bit overcooked, but I usually think that at most restaurants. The pesto was very homey, but the plate was very much like something i would make at home. The side of beans had great flavor but were overcooked to my taste. My son and father had the pork saltimbocca. First bite my son declared dry, but he warmed to the dish by the end. He enjoyed the mostarda. The potatoes were dry, but flavorful and he loved the pickled cabbage. My husband and other son had pizzas which he said were very good, one of the better he has had in the area. they looked delicious. He said the crust had good flavor and chew, they had char but were not overbaked. We skipped dessert.

                                                                                      Service was friendly and fantastic.

                                                                                      1. Deb and I had a fine meal recently at Locanda da Eva.

                                                                                        Here's a link:
                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7289...

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Locanda da Eva
                                                                                        2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                                                                                        1. Went tonight for a very light dinner with a friend, sat at the bar. We ordered pizza and a side, and a bottle of wine. Loved the Margherita - really good flavor in the sauce, blistered edges, tad juicy in the middle, which i love. Side was the cauliflower with mustard greens. Good, but maybe it had sat for a bit - it was a quiet night, we arrived at 8:30 - just didn't seem like it had been just fried for us - and maybe shouldn't expect that. again, good but not stellar. however, what WAS steller was the chicken liver mousse that our bar-neighbor ordered, and generously offered to share a bite of with us (we gave him a slice in return.) Creamy, velvety, nice liver flavor at the end. Something sweet/syrupy over the top made a nice contrast. i would have that again. We had a bottle of the $20 Anselmi Zellina Refosco after a proffered taste - nice and smooth, accessible, as our server described it, light, easy, went well with every bite. I'll definitely go back, and I'd have that pizza again. really want to try those trotters too!