Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Fava opens on Northside

Emma Drake/Staff

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Fava, a vegetable-focused lunch counter, opened on Northside this past summer, offering a fresh taste to the Berkeley community.

Former Chez Panisse employees, Sylvia Osborne-Calierno and Jeremy Scheiblauer, created and opened Fava — a vegetable-focused restaurant with Mediterranean inspirations — in the place that once housed the former Juice Bar Collective, a juice shop that brought smoothies and food to the Berkeley community for 43 years.

The restaurant is located at 2114 Vine Street with famous Northside eateries, such as Chez Panisse and The Cheese Board Collective, just around the corner. Fava operates as a lunch restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Hours will expand in the near future to include breakfast and possibly dinner hours, according to Scheiblauer.

Scheiblauer said they weren’t looking to open a restaurant, but he and Osborne-Calierno decided to open Fava because something was missing in the area, and the space opened up for this opportunity.

“It’s just the surrounding space,” Scheiblauer said. “What’s missing in the area are vegetables — the freshness and lightness of it. It’s a neighborhood restaurant, and we try to get to know all our customers. We try to keep the same spirit as with the juice bar.”

Fava’s menu is posted on the restaurant’s right-side wall in a black, bold font. The menu is simple: juices, salads, flatbreads and sides. All items on the menu are made from scratch with fresh, organic ingredients and local produce, according to Scheiblauer.

The restaurant’s most popular dish is its braised lamb flatbread, Scheiblauer said. Only 50 flatbreads are made available each day because of the amount of “labor and love” it takes to make them. Osborne-Calierno and Scheiblauer, however, plan to increase the amount of flatbread they make in the future.

Oakland resident Mark Macdonald returned to Fava for a second time since its opening. This time he said he’s trying something new on the menu: hummus salad with roasted eggplant.

“I love the seasonality and freshness of the ingredients, especially with this salad,” Macdonald said. “It’s super tasty. I’m definitely coming back again.”

The origin of the restaurant’s name came quickly to Osborne-Calierno and Scheiblauer. Fava is a homage to the bean that is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, according to Scheiblauer. The bean is “simple and organic” just like the restaurant, Scheiblauer said.

Scheiblauer said he and Osborne-Calierno are grateful for their time at Chez Panisse, as they gained experience and knowledge, especially when it came to making salads.

Scheiblauer added that they stress the importance of having balance when it comes to life and food. With lives and families to take care of, the two decided to operate with a limited schedule to ensure two rest days per week.

Scheiblauer and Osborne-Calierno are appreciative of the neighborhood’s support, which is because of the craft they put into their food.

“We don’t advertise,” Scheiblauer said. “We let the food speak for itself. Since the food is simple, it has to be perfect.”

Contact Marc Escobar at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @mescobar_dc.