Nico's 1508 1508 Walnut St. Suite B/Vine St., in Walnut Square, Gourmet Ghetto, (510) 280-5920. L M-F, D daily, Sat-SunBr. Located around the corner from Chez Panisse and next door to original Peet’s, this newer kid on the block welcomes you with a friendly neighborhood bar and is both family-friendly and a good choice for a special occasion celebration. When I arrived for dinner, the bar was packed with happy people and we were seated in a very private small booth just across from a family in a bigger open booth. The small booth was separated off with lovely curtains and had the option of drawing a heavier curtain across the opening to the restaurant. Frank Sinatra and friends added a soothing, romantic air to the ambiance. Very nice. Sidewalk café seating is also available, and a rooftop patio with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge--the perfect spot to watch the sunset--is coming. We started with delicious roasted Brussels sprouts mixed with goat cheese, a balsamic reduction, and pine nuts. Note that bread is served only by request. It would have gone nicely with the sprouts, but we decided to skip asking for it so that we could more fully enjoy our mains. Other tempting starters included burrata with oven-dried tomatoes, steamed mussels, and a house pate with fig jam. For mains, he had a firm and flavorful Hawaiian white walu with fingerling potatoes, and I had a substantial and tasty pappardelle pasta with a braised lamb sauce atop an herbed ricotta foundation (enough was left over for dinner the next day). He had a Malbec from La Costa in Argentina, and I had a Zin from Cline in Sonoma. Other mains that interested me were the huge Nico’s Burgermonger, a braised short rib of beef, and brick-roasted boneless half chicken with root vegetables and housemade mole sauce. Housemade desserts include a popular crème brulee and more, but I think the best must be the one we luckily selected--a mascarpone layer cake with white chocolate frosting. I’ve heard the sandwiches and side salads at lunch are very good, and a weekend brunch offers both traditional and creative choices along with bottomless mimosas. A nightly Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m. offers all appetizers, bottles of wine, and signature cocktails at half-off. It is interesting to know that Chef Munther Massarweh was the youngest Executive Chef in the history of Chicago’s world famous Pump Room.
|exterior of Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
|bar at Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
|interior of Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, Californian|
|delicious Brussels sprouts at Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
|waylu fish at Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
|pappardelle pasta with a braised lamb sauce at Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
|marscapone layer cake at Nico's 1508 in Berkeley, California|
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