California-Italian restaurant opens in South Berkeley

Leonie Leonida/Staff

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Creekwood, a California-Italian restaurant that has brought new flavors to South Berkeley for almost six months, opened Nov. 20 after about six years of preparation, as first reported by Berkeleyside.

Located on Sacramento Street, Creekwood has a 1,700-square-foot floor plan and can seat 50 guests indoors and another 20 outdoors on the patio, according to a press release.

“We wanted to be a neighborhood restaurant and have a casual, but nice place,” said Greg Poulios, the owner, who is also the current director of catering and dining at the International House on campus.

Poulios and his business partner and childhood friend, Mark Louie, started working on the restaurant about six years ago, according to Poulios. Poulios said the process of acquiring permits and working through city planning took 5 1/2 years and the building needed renovations, so he was glad that they got an early start.

According to Poulios, the time that it took to open the restaurant allowed the creators to focus on its design, including introducing reclaimed Douglas fir design details and recovered light fixtures that are more than 100 years old.

“We tried to really focus on the light and design so it would be a warm, comfortable restaurant,” Poulios said. “So people would feel good there.”

Adding to the “feel-good vibe” is the outside patio, which is pet-friendly and offers heat lamps for the cooler months and an awning for the warmer ones, Poulios added.

Their culinary operations are led by executive chef Liam Bonner, who also works as the general manager for the Foothill dining hall.

Bonner, Louie, and Poulios all worked together at a San Francisco restaurant called Zuppa before they began exploring the idea of creating a catering business on Sacramento Street, which, “ended up creeping into a full restaurant,” according to Poulios.

According to Poulios, the restaurant’s California-Italian style includes a mix of different Italian cuisines, along with fresh, light and often local, Californian fare.

“We’re definitely on the Italian side, but not so hardcore Italian,” Poulios said. “We really enjoyed the food, and we just wanted to make something that we liked to eat and we know other people would like to eat.”

Their menu features items such as Neapolitan-style pizza and unusual treats including grilled squid and gnudi, gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta.

Since its opening in November, Creekwood has already gathered a small crowd of regulars, and many people in the neighborhood who watched the renovations for years have paid the restaurant a visit, according to Poulios.

Now that Creekside is open, the restaurant’s next move will be to expand hours to include brunch, which will involve tweaking the menu, according to Poulios. He also explained that the restaurant’s goal is to be ready for brunch as early as this April.

Contact Marlena Tavernier-Fine at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MarlenaTF_DC.