1799 University Avenue (at Grant Street), Berkeley
Phone: (510) 356-4903
The space that housed Caffe Venezia, which shut down after 33 years in Berkeley, has finally reopened. It's now a bar and restaurant called Townie. The new space comes from Nima Shokat (of Berkeley's Missouri Lounge) and Maianna Voge, who are both Berkeley natives.
Heading up the new spot's small-plates concept is Dana Ryan, who's spent time in the kitchen at Gather and RN74 before a recent stint at State Bird Provisions. Inside Scoop has the opening menu, which will expand as the kitchen gets its legs. For now, look for bar-friendly bites like potato croquettes with Serrano ham and gruyère, garlic cheese toast, a pork belly banh mi, mussels with chorizo and more.
Townie's cocktail menu, put together by lead bartender Diana Krell,
features crowd-pleasers like the Ginger Thistle (Cynar, gin, lemon juice, ginger beer) and the Barley Flower (Bols genever, Lillet blanc, St. Germain, orange bitters). The 16 beers on tap include Drake's, Calicraft, and selections from East Bay favorite Linden Street, and $5 beer-and-whiskey specials will also be on offer.
Designed as a neighborhood spot rather than a destination, Townie gets its look from Frank/Architects, and the 75-seat space features an exposed brick wall, a zinc-topped bar, and a high ceiling with plenty of chandeliers. It's now open Tuesday through Sunday, 5pm to midnight.