Mid-Week Menu: Francesco’s Is Closing, AlaMar Starts Brunch Service, and The Barrel Room Revamps Its Menu

Welcome to the Mid-Week Menu, our roundup of East Bay food news.

1) Another day passes, and it’s time to say goodbye to another Oakland original: The Italian-American restaurant Francesco’s (8520 Pardee Dr.) will have its last day of business on Thursday, March 31. Inside Scoop reports that the family-run restaurant’s third-generation owners have decided to retire, and there wasn’t anyone in the fourth generation who wanted to take up the mantle. For its last day of business, the lunch special will be roast pork loin.

[jump] 2) Also calling it quits is La Botella Republic (2055 Center St.), the downtown Berkeley wine bar, Berkeleyside Nosh reports. Among other factors, the owners cited the fact that a customer base of well-to-do techies never materialized to the extent that they had hoped.

3) This news I’m kind of bummed to hear: Berkeleyside Nosh reports that the Rockridge location of The Barrel Room (5330 College Ave., Oakland) is closed for renovations until early April — but also that once it reopens, it will replace its full-service food menu with “delicious small plates and bites.” I’m on record saying how much I loved The Barrel Room’s food — an ambitious new menu built from scratch every three months to match the regional theme of the wine list. We’ll have to see how this stripped-down version measures up.

4) After a series of occasional brunch pop-ups, the seafood restaurant AlaMar (100 Grand Ave., #111, Oakland) is launching Sunday brunch in earnest this weekend, starting on Sunday, April 3, 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. According to a press release, possible menu items include French toast made with the cinnamon buns from nearby Gregory’s Desserts, carrot cake flapjacks, and chili prawns served with a baked egg.

5) Ozumo (2251 Broadway), the swanky Japanese restaurant in Uptown Oakland, has jumped on the Bay Area’s recent ramen craze, offering a three different varieties of ramen during dinner service each Wednesday. It appears some of the past offerings have had a fusion-y bent — a curry chicken ramen, for instance, or a “Nasu Marinara” ramen with meatballs, panko-crusted eggplant, and spinach noodles.

6) Inside Scoop reports that the former TJ’s Gingerbread House — the long-shuttered dollhouse-themed Cajun restaurant at 745 5th Street, on the outskirts of West Oakland — is the new home of a cupcake shop called Angel Cakes. It’s now open for business.

7) We finally have some word on Kushido (4828 Telegraph Ave., Oakland), the former yakitori joint in Temescal: Turns out it will still be a yakitori joint — now rebranded as Hina, Inside Scoop reports.

8) Berkeleyside Nosh reports that a Peruvian restaurant and nightclub called Inca’s Palace is now open in the Pacific East Mall in Richmond, in the former site of a hotpot restaurant.

9) Finally, ICYMI, I wrote about an Alameda couple’s plans to turn their 122-year-old Victorian into a French-Creole restaurant.

Got tips or suggestions? Email me at Luke (dot) Tsai (at) EastBayExpress (dot) com. Otherwise, keep in touch by following me on Twitter @theluketsai, or simply by posting a comment. I’ll read ‘em all.

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