berkeley food #20: jupiter

2181 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA

Jupiter is the last of my long-delayed reviews. I may have been here more times than any other restaurant in Berkeley. This is mostly because it’s such a great place to take guests, and we have a lot of guests. Jupiter is a brew-pub, run by the same people who run Triple Rock, just about a quarter mile down Shattuck from that venerable old pub. It’s closer to the heart of downtown. The interior is very welcoming, all dark wood, soft light, hammered copper wall coverings, hand-made, astronomy-themed tables. Outside is even better–a large patio with multiple levels, little heating-lamp things for when the weather turns “cold,” and giant painted versions of their beer posters that I love so much.

The draw here is dual: the beer and the food. To start with the latter: they have sandwiches at lunch and pizzas at dinner. The sandwiches are more interesting than you with think, with boring-sounding options like the tuna-melt or roasted chicken breast both ending up outstanding. The pizza is the same–cooked in a wood-fired brick oven, nice and crispy, never burned, with a large and universally tasty menu of toppings. My favorite is probably the Triton (all their food and beer has astronomically-themed names), which is covered with Italian sausage, sweet onions and basil. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Because the pizzas are made one at a time, you’ll have to wait a bit for your order to come in. That’s okay, though, it will give you the time you need to drink a couple of thier massively-sized (20oz) ultras of some of my favorite beer, anywhere. Their hefeweisen is definitely my favorite, fruity and rich without being cloying. It’s not for everyone though; they aren’t kidding when they describe it’s taste as including “banana-like esters,” but don’t let it scare you away, it really tastes great!

Although I spend most of my time their drinking the hefe, all the beers are good. Other favorites include the insanely hoppy and alchoholic Quasar double IPA, and the simple, classic Red Spot red ale. Go ahead! Take a look at the whole list.

Jupiter has already earned a special place in our hearts. In fact, if you’re coming to party with us next may when we get hitched, you’ll be treated to some their great food and drink at our rehearsal dinner after party. So if you were on the fence about flying out to California, maybe this will tip the scales.

berkeley food #19: dopo

4293 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94620
(510) 652-3676

Okay, so this is cheating a little bit; the restaurant is actually in Oakland. Whatever. It’s worth the write up anyway. The place is small, brightly lit, huge glass windows, filled with blonde wood, an enormous open kitchen, and not that many tables. People on yelp predicted a wait (they don’t take reservations) but we had none (it was about 6:45 when we showed up, on a Tuesday). Within about 20 minutes however, all the tables were full and people were sitting outside waiting in the little patio area.

We started with a sort of mashed-together-and-fried-into-patties appetizer made with sausage (house made), fingerling potatoes, and greens. It was really good–an unexpected mix of flavors, kind of heavy but in a small enough portion to be enjoyable to the last bite. For the main course we had prosciutto, rosemary, and red-onion pizza and chanterelle pasta. The pizza crust was perfect: light and crispy, non-scorched, and so tasty that even I finished my crusts (this is saying a lot). There was no red sauce on the pizza, just some olive oil and garlic sitting on the dough with big slices of prosciutto layed over the top. The mix of flavors was delicious. The pasta was my favorite (Leslie’s was the pizza). It was fresh pasta (also made in house), cooked just right so that it has a lot of body without being gummy, covered in a basil-based cream sauce with sauteed chanterelles. It was almost like the pasta had been tossed in the sauce; the coating was very light. The flavor was subtle but heavenly.

For dessert we had esspresso-soaked pound cake filled with mousse and topped with whipped cream. I wasn’t crazy about the espresso (big suprise) but the mousse knocked it out of the park. It was that perfect balance between chocolatey and sweet, and not too wet so it was almost crumbly. Mmmm. Overall, a great experience, great service, and stellar food. A bit on the pricey side for the size of the entrees ($10-$15), but a definite will-visit-again kind of place.