Italian bakery PiQ in Downtown Berkeley closes its doors

Jessica Schwabach/Staff

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Italian coffee shop and bakery Pane Italiano Qualità, or PiQ, — previously located at 91 Shattuck Square — shut down its business over Thanksgiving break.

PiQ closed its metal gates to the dismay of Downtown Berkeley workers and regular customers, barring the entrance to the cafe, as first reported by Berkeleyside. The cafe used to serve authentic Italian food, as its former menu lists traditional Italian cuisines, offering an assortment of pizzas, pastas, sweets and coffees.

According to Berkeleyside, PiQ General Manager Massimo Covello left abruptly a few months ago, and the cafe had been struggling ever since. Berkeleyside also stated that PiQ’s former location in San Francisco International Airport has been permanently closed.

A new Italian restaurant called Passione Caffe will be opening at the old PiQ location. Multiple signs reading, “Passione Caffe: Italian Caffe, Winebar & More Coming Soon” have been posted on the closed gates and taped onto the windows of the shut-down cafe.

The new cafe may be opening as soon as next week, according to Berkeleyside.

Fabrizio Cercatore, who is taking over Passione Caffe, informed Berkeleyside that he has plans for a “new incarnation” of 91 Shattuck Square. He envisions the new cafe as a coffee bar by day — serving light bites as well as heavier dishes such as pastas and pizzas — and by night the spot will become an Italian wine bar.

Neighboring businesses are beginning to take note of the closure of PiQ. Alessandro Uccelli, owner of Lucia’s, found the closure to be “sad.”

“I am also Italian, so it is upsetting to hear that they had to close,” Uccelli said. “I can see how more people may come here at night for pizzas, but I don’t think it’s going to affect our business as much as opposed to (PiQ neighboring business) 85C Bakery Cafe, who may receive more customers.”

Contact Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @von_ehrenstein.