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Former AQ Chef to Bring Live-Fire Cooking to Oakland

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The hyper-seasonal bistro will land on Piedmont Avenue

AQ/Facebook

After Mark Liberman’s celebrated Mid-Market restaurant AQ abruptly closed in 2017, he started plotting his next project: Mägo, a neighborhood restaurant for Oakland. He hosted pop-ups for more than a year while hunting down a future home, and just landed on the recently vacated Cybelle’s on Piedmont space at 3762 Piedmont Avenue.

Now, he’s crowdfunding to get help with the final renovations, design work, and furnishings. “We want to open in Oakland because of the vibrancy of the neighborhoods, the diverse cultures and people that live here, it feels like a true community,” Liberman says in his Kickstarter video.

Mägo will be a 45-seat restaurant serving Californian cuisine, aiming to reflect the region’s 52 micro-seasons with a weekly changing menu. Liberman will, of course, source from local farmers, fisheries, and foragers, along with Mägo’s own patio garden. In a move that echoes Liberman’s now-closed live-fire cooking restaurant TBD, most of Mägo’s dishes will be cooked on a custom wood-burning hearth.

Liberman is also set on making Mägo feel like a lively dinner party, with the majority of the seats surrounding the open kitchen, and the cooks and chefs serving most of the dishes, encouraging questions and conversation. Plus, no dress code and — Liberman hopes, at least — no pretension.

Mägo means “magician” in Spanish, and it was Liberman’s nickname at AQ. When AQ closed, he and co-owner Matt Semmelhack blamed San Francisco’s rising costs. Their Mercer Restaurant Group saw a slew of restaurants close in quick succession, including TBD, Mexican-inspired Fenix in SoMa, and the ambitious Parisian-inspired restaurant and brewery Bon Marché.

No word on a timeline yet, so stay tuned for more details.

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