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The Nine Big Deal Restaurants To Watch

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The coming months are going to keep the good restaurant openings rolling; so -- it being Fall and all -- now's a good time to take stock of all the things we can be thankful for. Most of the following "big deals" will grace us with their presence during the technical harvest time, however, please don't be horrified if things are delayed until after the winter solstice. Also, keep an eye out for our preview of neighborhood game-changers.

1) Bourbon Steak
Address: 335 Powell St. San Francisco, CA
The Situation: After the somewhat tumultuous closure of Michael Mina in the Westin St. Francis on Union Square, Mina's going steakhouse on us and opening the fifth outpost of a concept that has done well for him in other -- dare we say -- less-finicky markets. But the chef knows his hometown audience best, so he's making the necessary eco tweaks, thank you very much.
Major Players: Michael Mina, Rajat Parr
Projected Opening: October 7, 2010
Buzz Factor: 9
Further Reading

2) Plum
Address: 2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA
The Situation:The spawn of frustrated energy from unspeakable delays at Jack London Square project Bracina, Plum has certainly now eclipsed the buzz and excitement of its "predecessor." After a little stumbling block with Jeremy Fox, who was going to be the chef de cuisine for about two months, D-Patt is firmly on course to open this more casual -- and highly anticipated -- sister restaurant to Coi.
Major Players: Daniel Patterson, Bill Corbett, Lauren Kiino, Scott Beattie (at the adjacent cocktail bar eventually)
Projected Opening: September 29, 2010
Buzz Factor: 10
Further Reading

3) Cotogna
Address: 490 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA
The Situation: The team behind special occasion favorite Quince is finally ready to open its casual spin off with slightly more down-to-earth fare -- a wood-fired oven will be used -- and a first-to-market "fixed price" wine program in which every bottle comes in around $40. There's no telling what chef Michael Tusk can and will do when he's having fun.
Major Players: Michael Tusk, Lindsey Tusk, David Lynch
Projected Opening: Mid-October, 2010
Buzz Factor: 9
Further Reading

4) 25 Lusk
Address: 25 Lusk Street, San Francisco, CA
The Situation: Ex-Garibaldi's chef Matthew Dolan and partners are bringing us something special in a 9,800-square-foot Cass Calder Smith-designed space; and it's only taken them, oh, three years to do so. The early messaging is making this sound a lot like Prospect, in that everything says approachable and unpretentious, but the trappings sound quite high-end. At the very least, the interior will be a show stopper and the wait has been long enough to drum up a good deal of buzz out there.
Major Players: Matthew Dolan, Chad Bourdon (partner), Cass Calder Smith, Cezar Kusik (wine director), Michael Musil (bar consultant)
Projected Opening: Fall, 2010 is all they're giving us
Buzz Factor: 8
Further Reading

5) Michael Mina
Address: 252 California St., San Francisco, CA
The Situation: In a bit of a homecoming, Sir Mina hath purchased the lease -- the assets are a whole different story -- at the former Aqua locale on California street where he once worked for almost a decade. He's going to loosen things up a bit here at the Michael Mina sequel by nixing the tablecloths and amping up the bar and lunch scenes, which all sounds well and good to us.
Major Players: Michael Mina
Projected Opening: October 19th, 2010
Buzz Factor: 10
Further Reading

6) El Paseo
Address:17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, CA
The Situation: Yes, Tyler Florence is kind of a big deal, and his third Bay Area venture in his hometown of Mill Valley should be interesting because he's calling it the most personal of his newborns. (For you hibernators, the other two are Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco and the still-unopened Rotisserie and Wine in Napa.) This one is being built-out in the storied El Paseo restaurant space with the help of partner Sammy Hagar. They're adding a patio, changing the concept to a farm-to-table California steakhouse (for now) and renovating some other things as well.
Major Players: Tyler Florence, Sammy Hagar
Projected Opening: November at the earliest
Buzz Factor: 7
Further Reading

7) Seven Hills
Address: 1550 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA
The Situation: The Alioto family have firmly mastered the art of wrangling tourists at their Wharf-staurants and are now moving into a space in Russian Hill to a launch a concept befitting its posh Russian Hill environs at 1550 Hyde Street. 31-year-old Alexander Alioto has tons of energy with which to helm the stove and he's cooked at French Laundry, the Ritz, and a Michelin 2-star in Italy, so we're curious to see what he does when left to his own devices.
Major Players: Alexander Alioto, Alexis Solomou, Joanne Alioto, Nunzio Alioto, Chuck Furuya
Projected Opening: Early November
Buzz Factor: 7
Further Reading

8) House of Shields
Address: 39 New Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA
The Situation: The city's been watching the historic House of Shields since it went on the market in January and then they started watching even closer when Dennis Leary swooped it up with the promise of spruce-ups and a truly douche-repellent ode to all things bar on Union Square.
Major Players: Dennis Leary, Livio Velardo
Projected Opening: Late November
Buzz Factor: 6
Further Reading

9) Antica Pizza Napoletana
The Situation: Obviously there's a pizza restaurant in this list and this one is nothing to shrug one's jaded shoulders at. There will be wood-fired pizza cooked by a pizzaiolo from Naples and -- unlike some other hot newcomers -- there will be other things on the menu and even dessert. So it's sounding a lot like Pizzeria Delfina; and that, friends, could make for a new pizza war in the Mission.
Major Players: Paolo Laboa, Luca Minna, Laura Garrone, mysterious pizzaiolo from Naples
Projected Opening:Late October
Buzz Factor: 6
Further Reading

[Photo: Daniel Patterson: Rugged Elegance/Jennifer King; Michael Tusk: Chron/Craig Lee; Tyler Florence: Elsa Elsa; Michael Mina: Caviar Russe]

El Paseo Restaurant

17 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941 415 388 0741


490 Pacific Avenue, , CA 94133 (415) 775-8508 Visit Website


2214 Broadway Street, Oakland, CA Visit Website

Bourbon Steak

335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 415 397 3003