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Berkeley's 16-Year-Old Rivoli Renews Its Three Stars

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For his show today, Cecil B. DeBauer revisits an old friend in Berkeley's Rivoli. The Solano Avenue spot has been a mainstay on the Top 100 list for years, and though it's gotten a facelift or two on the way, the restaurant—opened way back in 1994—hasn't missed a beat, mostly thanks to chef/owner Wendy Brucker:

What hasn't changed is Brucker's cooking, and on most nights you'll still find her in the kitchen. Her dishes are complex, but homey ... [Servers'] professional attitude strikes just the right note. Sixteen years later, Rivoli more than survives - it thrives.
From mushroom fritters to Caesar salad to pineapple upside-down cake, Rivoli is still putting out the kind of well-executed comfort food that the Midwestern boy in Bauer adores. Rivoli last received a formal review in 1998 to the tune of The Tres and this time around, a reassessment once again yields a solid three stars. [Chron]

The Merc heads up north to file the latest encouraging take on the revamped SPQR: " The menu is reasonably priced with no item over $18, so you can indulge in a multicourse meal for a fraction of the price you'd pay in restaurants with more space and white tablecloths, yet not notice one iota of difference in the quality of food ... [Matt Accarrino] has learned to take familiar dishes and elevate them. His is Italian soul food with flair." [Merc]

Back at Le Chron, Carol Ness takes the bonus review in the Datebook today, and she heads to Jack London Square's newish Chop Bar. She likes the Mono replacement to the tune of 2.5 stars: "It's inviting. It's comfortable. And it's got style ... But the best part is the food is good, too. It's mostly local and sustainable, well cooked and reasonably priced ... I'd be there all the time if I lived or worked nearby." [Chron]

Jonathan Kauffman's first formal review for the Weekly takes him to Bruno's to check out Katharine Zacher and Ryan Ostler's elevated Southern fare. The menu has its share of hits and misses, but for the most part, it seems to work in its unlikely setting: "Ostler and Zacher were upscaling the food from the inside out, respectfully applying their formal training to American classics without making a fuss about it." [SFW]

Paul Reidinger hits up another Mission fave in the quirky German eatery on South Van Ness Folsom, Schmidt's: "Schmidt's doesn't accept reservations, takes only cash (there is a cash machine stashed in a far corner, near the toilet), and, under its deli cap, sells German groceries from a wall of shelves just inside the door ... Schmidt's mixed bag of eccentricities wouldn't mean much either way if the food wasn't good, but it is good." [SFBG]

THE ELSEWHERE: The MIJ shares thoughts on the boisterous BJ's branch in San Rafael, the EBX finds enjoyably imperfect barbecue at Phat Matt's BBQ, the CoCo Times does barbecue too at Southern Heritage Smoked Bar-be-que in Fremont, Bargain Bites is at North Beach's Cafe Baonecci, Bar Bites does Yountville's Bardessono, and earlier in the week, the Sunday Bauer had 2.5 stars for both Marzano and Garibaldis.

[Photo: Rivoli]

SPQR

1911 Fillmore Street, , CA 94115 (415) 771-7779 Visit Website

Schmidt's

2400 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 415 410 0200 Visit Website

Rivoli

1539 Solano Ave., Berkeley, CA

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