3 new restaurants coming to Shattuck Avenue

Herbivore_JTanji_file
Jennifer Tanji/File

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Three new restaurants will be opening on Shattuck Avenue in the next few months, offering a diverse array of cuisines.

A new Middle Eastern restaurant, Saha, will move from San Francisco to the former location of long-standing vegan restaurant, Herbivore, which closed this past month. Other new dining establishments include a pizzeria and a combined beer garden and restaurant.

Saha, meaning “a toast to good health” in Arabic, was first established in San Francisco in 2004, and will move to 2415 Shattuck Ave. on Oct. 1. In its new location, it will continue to feature modern Middle Eastern cuisine and local ingredients, according to the restaurant’s wine director Marmee Manack.

Mohamed Aboghanem, owner and chef of Saha, and Manack stated that the main motivation behind the restaurant’s move was its past location. Saha was located in the Hotel Carlton and Manack said it had poor exposure to the street as it was ‘‘literally behind the front desk of a hotel.”

“I’ll be honest with you, I feel like I’ve been the underdog forever in that location,” Aboghanem said. “(San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer) could make you or break you … but he’s never reviewed us.”

According to Manack, Saha differentiates itself through its vegan and vegetarian options, diverse menu and local ingredients with traditional Middle Eastern tastes, featuring dishes such as “sage duck” and “classic North African couscous.”

“(Aboghanem) loves cooking and puts a lot of love into cooking,” Manack said. “Everyone would be happy at Saha.”

In the face of increased options for Middle Eastern food in Berkeley, Ali Elayyan — manager at Oases Grill — advised new restaurants to have good prices in order to attract the student population and a good name.

Workers at other restaurants, however, have concerns over new openings.

“We already have too much competition and I wish we had (more) zoning laws in this city,” said Moby Theobald, a cashier at Red Tomato Pizza House.

The pizzeria — Lucia’s — will replace Belli Osteria’s past location at 2016 Shattuck Ave., a few blocks away from Red Tomato Pizza House. The restaurant, co-founded by Steve Dumain and Alessandro Uccelli, will feature a newly added bar and pizza oven.

Dumain said that at this time there is no hard date for Lucia’s opening.

The beer garden and restaurant will operate collectively under the name Cornerstone, and will inhabit two connected buildings at 2367 Shattuck Ave., according to a permit applicant statement to the city of Berkeley. Cornerstone was co-founded by Alex Popov — founder of Pappy’s Grill and Sports Bar and Smart Alec’s Intelligent Food  and will replace Thalassa, a now-closed bar and pool hall.

It will have a space for community and local music events, and will feature 56 beer taps, local architecture and comfort food such as lasagna, said the statement.

Popov was not available for comment.

Lillian Dong covers business and economy. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ldong97.