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The Magazine of the East Bay

Special Report

How it Started ▼

Battling the Blaze ▼

Meet the Heroes

The Inferno

September 8 was a Sunday. A hot one. As many of us were getting ready to cheer on the Niners, Giants, A’s, or America’s Cup racers, a spark from target shooting on the back side of Mount Diablo started a fire that soon set our mountain ablaze... pg. 38 o cto b e r 20 1 3  $4.95 ▼

Also in This Issue: Metallica’s New Movie / The New Duck Club / Guide to DIY Crafts W W W. D I A B L O M A G. C O M

IT’S EASY TO FIND DOCTOR RIGHT At Sutter Health, we believe you deserve great care from the right doctor. That’s why we select doctors who establish relationships with you and who communicate with you through one-on-one conversations in person and online. With doctors, hospitals and clinics throughout the East Bay, finding the care you need close to home is easier than ever. It’s one more way we plus you.

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Eden Medical Center Palo Alto Medical Foundation Sutter Delta Medical Center Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation

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What was, is

Island of Hawaii 866.977.4589

October Volume 34, Number 10



29 Get Crafty It’s a DIY and Pinterest world. Get your craft on with these classes, and meet local crafters making big waves. Edited by LeeAnne Jones

38 Fire on the Mountain Smoke from the Morgan Fire on Mount Diablo could be seen from all over the Bay Area. Here are perspectives from those on the front lines, from firefighters to evacuees. Edited by Susan Safipour

46 Metallica at the Movies As rock’s biggest band takes its show to IMAX, we trace Metallica’s path from the East Bay to the silver screen. By Peter Crooks



norma cordova

Travel | Yosemite One family celebrates two 50-year wedding anniversaries at Yosemite’s gorgeous Ahwahnee Hotel. By Peter Crooks

October Volume 34, Number 10

In Every Issue


Editor’s Note



147 Faces

152 Click

Speak of the Devil

Food Scene




Spectacular floral photography; meet the Oakland Museum of California employee who makes a living stuffing corpses; a rise in coworking spaces means you don’t need to take your laptop to Starbucks anymore; fantastical success for a Pleasanton author; shopping Danville’s Prospect Avenue; and this month’s must-do events, including Mythbusters live, Ella Fitzgerald in Walnut Creek, and Kenny Loggins helping wounded warriors out of the danger zone.


Food News All hail the mocktail! Alcohol-free mixed drinks are sophisticated thirst quenchers. Plus, boozy sweets for adult trick-or-treaters.

Review | The Park Bistro An old-school favorite in Lafayette gets a major makeover, with winning results.


Critics’ Reviews Diablo tries Mexcal in Danville and Homestead in Oakland. Plus, we visit Vanessa’s Bistro 2 in its new Walnut Creek location.


Diablo Dish Esin’s owners double down with a new gourmet tavern in Danville, Japanese small plates head for Dublin, and more.


On the Cover Photography by Eric Smith

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top to bottom: samantha schneider; mitch tobias

Cheap Eats Breakfast and lunch done right at the new Danville Station Firehouse Bar and Grille.

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Ed i t o r

Susan Dowdney Safipour Roger Gurbani

Art Director

senior editor/Senior Writer M a n a g i n g Ed i t o r a s s o c i a t e Ed i t o r

LeeAnne Jones

Stacey Kennelly

senior food editor assistant editor

Peter Crooks

Nicholas Boer

Caitlin McCulloch

Samantha Schneider

art/web assistant

e d i t o r at l a r g e

Michaela Jarvis

contributing art director copy editors

Greg Silva

Judith Dunham, Linda Lenhoff

Group Publisher

Senior Account Executives

Marilyn Beck Rivera, Toni Tighe, Megan Tuggle Account Executive

Jocelyne Crossley Marketing Director

Melinda Solomon M a r k e t i n g a s s o c i at e

Ashley Shpak, Jacob Tarnow Senior Account Executive emeritus

Francine Lyall A d m i n i s t r at i o n

c r e at i v e d i r e c t o r

d i r e c t o r o f o p e r at i o n s

David Bergeron

Eileen Cunningham

Amanda Stratmeyer

sales and marketing intern

Deborah Burstyn, Hannah Craddick, Ben Davidson, April Dembosky, Lou Fancher, Ethan Fletcher, Gina Gotsill, Kristen Haney, Sara Hare, Sarah Henry, James O’Brien, Martha Ross, Angela Sasse, Lisen Stromberg, Sarah Sung editorial interns

Dave Reik

M a r k e t i n g a n d c i r c u l at i o n M a n ag e r

contributing writers

Mahsa Dinyari, Nick Golden, Bella Ohlmeyer, Elijah Sarinana

Barney Fonzi

C h i e f F i n a n c i a l Off i c e r

Brendan N. Casey

S t a ff A c c o u n t a n t

Sylvia Bajjaliya

A c c o u n t s P aya b l e

Ana Magaña

A c c o u n t s R e c e i va b l e / r e c e p t i o n i s t h e l p d e s k a dm i n i s t r a t o r

Cheryl Davis

Nick Rubalcaba

Assistant to the President and the Publisher

Jodie Aranda

AD production and production

Jennifer Brazil, Debra Donovan, Ron Henry, Michele Johnson P r o j e c t m a n ag e r / a d c o o r d i n at o r

Sarah Schultz

N at i o n a l A d v e r t i s i n g O f f i c e s Hawaii

Lola Cohen Co., Lola Cohen, (808) 282-1322

Stephanie Ericson, (415) 307-5323; Wendy Tognetti, (707) 544-3643

n a pa / s o n o m a

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Couture Marketing, Karen Couture, (917) 821-4429

Southern California And Arizona

Dorie Leo & Associates, Dorie Leo, (310) 822-4938

D i a b l o P u b l i c at i o n s F o u n d e r a n d p r e s i d e n t

Steven J. Rivera how to reach us

(925) 943-1111 M a i l i n g Add r e s s 2520 Camino Diablo, Walnut Creek, CA 94597-3939 e d i t o r i a l c o n t e n t (925) 943-1199, Ext. 4 B y F a x (925) 943-1045 b y e - m a i l O n t h e We b We b s i t e f o r D i a b l o C u s t o m P u b l i s h i n g t w i t t e r fa c e b o o k F o r a d v e r t i s i n g, s u b s c r i p t i o n, a n d g e n e r a l i n f o r m at i o n

c i r c u l a t i o n e - m a i l a dd r e s s T o c o mm e n t o n

Diablo (ISSN 1051-3434) is published monthly by Diablo Country Magazine Inc., 2520 Camino Diablo, Walnut Creek, CA 94597-3939. Periodical postage paid at Walnut Creek, CA, and additional mailing offices. Subscription rate: one year, $20, payable in advance. Single copies, $4.95. Back issues, if available, $4.95. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Diablo magazine, 2520 Camino Diablo, Walnut Creek, CA 94597. For inquiries, call (925) 943-1111. All rights to the contents of this magazine are owned in full by Diablo Country Magazine Inc. Diablo may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or the management of the magazine. Contents © 2013. All rights reserved. October 2013, Volume 34, Number 10.

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Fine Asian Works of Art Auction December 2013, San Francisco Consignments now invited

+1 415 503 3333 A fine nephrite two-part table screen The plaques 18th/19th century Sold for $218,500

International Auctioneers and Appraisers - Š2013 Bonhams & Butterfields Auctioneers Corp. All rights reserved. Bond No. 57BSBGL0808

Editor’s Note

From Susan’s Desk


Captivated BY THE FLAMES

All eyes were on Mount Diablo, as the Morgan Fire grew.


8 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

sa m be nson

via Facebook

“Popcorn and wine? [“This Wine Has Pop,” September.] I’m sold. Nice pairing, Wente!” a l l i e sch r at z

via Twitter

“Congrats! I heart Diablo! [“The Big 4-0-0,” September.]” da rci m

via Twitter Susan with Mike Marcucci, Contra Costa battalion chief of Cal Fire.

town. Everyone worried about friends in Morgan Territory, many of whom were evacuated to the town library. We could not imagine how the firefighters were battling a blaze in the steeps near the ridgeline, where we have to stop frequently to catch our breath on hikes. The next morning, we woke to blue skies: The fire had headed south and was trying to crest the ridge to Danville and Dublin, terrifying residents there. It took more than 1,000 firefighters just three days to contain the blaze, which they did with no loss of life or houses. We share the brave stories of these heroes, and those of evacuees and others on the front lines of the Morgan Fire, on page 38.


Congratulations! Louise Lee of Orinda and Lisa Fisher of Lafayette each won a pair of tickets to see Plácido Domingo perform at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. Get the 411 on future contests by subscribing to the A-List at

Susan Dowdney Safipour

Editor in Chief ssa f i p o u r @ m a i l d i a b lo . c o m

stacey kennelly

It was hard getting to sleep that first night of the Morgan Fire. My family lives in Clayton, and while the wildfire on Mount Diablo looked pretty far away, we just didn’t know what we would wake up to. We stayed up late with many of our neighbors, watching the smoke billow up into mushroomlike clouds, turn an angry red, and then dissipate as if the fire were dying down. Every time we thought it might be stopping, the flames would rise again. We couldn’t take our eyes off it. We live near the top of Seeno Hill, one of the highest points in Clayton, and everyone gathered there like it was an after-hours block party. A stream of cars came by, too, to get a better view of the blaze. The view from Seeno Hill is one of my favorites. Every morning when I drive down Eagle Peak Avenue to work, I marvel at that majestic mountain and thank my lucky stars that I live in Clayton. But that Sunday night, it was dark and frightening. A small scar of fire started down the front of the mountain, as if heading toward

Letters of the Month “Rancho San Miguel in Walnut Creek, aka, Eichlerville, has appreciated well over 25 percent in the past six months. [“Hot ‘Hoods,” September.] Many families are buying these great midcentury homes and restoring them to their original look.”

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Grand Opening

The tower on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge glitters in the night sky, as the first cars are escorted across. The old span finally sits dark, more than two decades after it was found to be unsafe, following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. photo gr a ph y by dav i d y u

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Trends | People | Culture | Style

Full Bloom


A local artist’s photos are more than just pretty pictures.

joSon wasn’t destined to be an artist. When he was growing up in Asia, art was not high on the list of professions that parents envisioned for their children. At age 10, joSon entered a Buddhist monastery to become a monk. As he pursued his calling, he took photos of religious events at the monastery. At 18, his Buddhist masters, recognizing joSon’s interest, suggested he leave the monastery and follow a more creative path. Now a commercial photographer in Emeryville, joSon has filled his studio with flowers. “My work is based on the values of the temples,” he says. “I love the

beauty of life. I don’t do dark photography. It’s just not who I am.” The flowers that fill his new coffeetable book, joSon: Intimate Portraits of Nature, were a natural choice. “The color, the texture, the exoticism of flowers is like a chocolate chip cookie for your eyes,” he says. “When I see them, I can’t resist.” From orchids and tulips to magnolias, this flower lover searched high and low for his subjects. “I get some flowers from flower shops, but mostly they are from people’s yards,” he says. “I’m not a big fan of flower shops. The flowers are too common, and often it’s hard

to find a perfect flower since they travel around. “Flowers are so easy to damage; for the eyes, it’s OK, but the camera lens can see everything.” Flowers provide a visual appeal, yes, but to joSon, the blooms are more than beautiful. “Flowers are like a missing language,” he says. “I find language very weak, not sophisticated enough to express our emotions. Flowers are another layer of expression.” To order the book, visit josonstudio. com. Get a sneak peek at his next project in our gallery at joson. –Caitlin McCulloch D ia blo 13

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Odd Jobs |

Critter Preserver From a flock of graceful geese in flight to cringe-worthy preserved roadkill, taxidermist Alicia Goode’s work is a highlight of Oakland Museum of California’s newly renovated Gallery of Natural Sciences.

Early Aptitude Goode isn’t squeamish. Before working at Berkeley’s Bone Room and the Cal Academy, she grew up cleaning skulls for her dad, a hunter, and collecting insects. “I had a pet black widow spider that my mom ‘accidentally’ killed,” she says. Office Space Her shared, windowless workroom at Oakland Museum is filled with art supplies, taxidermy catalogs, animal forms, and drawers of glass eyes. On the table, a skunk specimen dries while orb weaver spiders are pinned. In the back is an SUV–sized deep freezer. Tools of the Trade From the ordinary (hair dryers and brushes) to what sound like medieval torture devices: the fleshing wheel, a wire wheel that scrapes off fat and tissue, and the tumbler, a spinning drum filled with ground corncob that dries skins. Just Another Day at the Office “Sometimes, there will be a dead squirrel in a bag next to my sandwich in the refrigerator.” On-the-Job Training Taxidermy forms are commercially available for wild animals, but when Goode had to prepare a goat for the Oakland history exhibit, she got creative. “I ordered a bighorn sheep form, measured the goat, and sculpted the form to be the right size and shape.”

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—Name: Alicia Goode —Age: 30 —City: Oakland —Job: Taxidermist for Oakland Museum of California

terry lorant

FAQs Most people ask how she ended up in taxidermy. “It’s not like I thought, ‘I want to be a taxidermist.’ I just followed the road, and this is where I wound up. But I love my job: It encompasses all the things that I’m passionate about: art, natural history, and science.” —LeeAnne Jones


Safety Hazards In addition to preparing new specimens (often donated from wildlife rehab centers), Goode restores old ones, like a 1960s grizzly bear whose matted fur needed vacuuming and styling. “I have to be careful because these old mounts have arsenic in them.”

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On the Job |

The New Workplace It’s a bold, new world out there. As more people go freelance or work remotely, coworking facilities have sprung up to meet demand for spaces that bridge the gap between home, a café, and an office. Here are a few options in the East Bay.

laptop lounge

the port

Location: Halfway between Walnut Creek BART and downtown. Vibe: Probably the most suburban of all the East Bay coworking facilities, with two receptionists and a modern, business-chic decor that appeals to an established professional work crowd. Seating: Ranges from communal tables, to comfy couches in the lounge, to private desks. Plus, a conference room with views of Mount Diablo and a private “phone booth” for making calls. Cost: Monthly membership: $50–$495. Pay as you go: $35 per day. Bonus: Weekly educational and networking events, free for members. (925) 482-8300,

Location: Two facilities in Jack London Square, with a quick walk to everexpanding restaurant options for lunch. Vibe: At the Washington Street location, several of the private rooms are rented out full-time by lawyer types, giving a buttoned-down, professional feel. At the newer Broadway space, the fun, casual vibe includes a spiral slide. Seating: Communal seating, private offices, and conference rooms. Cost: Monthly membership: $200–$300. Bonus: Both locations have game rooms with billiards and Ping-Pong to work off any stress. (800) 900-0506,

Hot Author |

next space Location: In downtown Berkeley, directly across from BART. Vibe: With the historic Wells Fargo bank building setting (high ceilings), wooden desks, and retro orange accents, there’s a bit of a Mad Men feel. Seating: The 9,000-square-foot space offers communal café seating, dedicated desks, and private offices. There are two conference rooms, including one inside the old bank vault. Cost: Monthly membership: $275–$475. Day pass: $25. Bonus: Among the amenities are a pinball machine, and a holistic room set up to accommodate local masseuses. (510) 990-0500, —Ethan Fletcher

Third Workplace

third workPLACE Location: In the new Contra Costa Center/Pleasant Hill BART development. Vibe: Eco-hip, with reclaimed wood, succulents, and big photos of misty “treescapes.” You’re more likely to see a grad student here than a lawyer. Seating: The large central working space is filled with communal tables, and surrounded by private workspaces and conference rooms. Cost: Monthly membership: $99–$399. Pay as you go: $6 per hour. Bonus: If you want a change of scenery, an S.F. location will open next. (925) 482-0910, 1 6 o cto b e r 2 0 13

Next Space

Making Magic

The Golum and the Jinni, by Pleasanton author Helene Wecker, was released earlier this year to rave reviews, including a feature in the New York Times. Her tale of two mythological beings (one from Jewish folklore, the other from Arabic) meeting in 1899 New York examines the American immigrant experience with a supernatural twist. Q: This book offers a creative take on the immigrant experience. A: My husband and I both grew up in suburban Chicago and had very similar childhoods, and we are also both children of immigrants. He is Arab-American, and I am Jewish. I was interested in exploring how characters from very different worlds can have a similar experience immigrating into America. Q: How did you come up with such an imaginative premise? A: I was working on a story set in the real world, and having a hard time making it come to life. A friend in my writing workshop said, “You love fantastical books; write stories like those.” Once I made the characters supernatural, I no longer had preconceived ideas about them. They came to life in my imagination. Q: Does your success feel magical? A: While I’ve had an amazing experience, I’m very much the same person. My daughter’s diapers are just as dirty as they were before the book came out. Helene Wecker will be at the Contra Costa Jewish Book and Arts Festival in Walnut Creek on November 14. —Peter Crooks

clockwise from top left: courtesy of the port; sheldon wecker; courtesy of harper collins; next space/nathan phillips photography; courtesy of third workspace

The Port

Location: On the fourth floor of downtown Berkeley’s David Brower Center. Tenants in the LEED–platinum building are dedicated to green business. Vibe: Very Berkeley. Spotted: free-trade coffee burlap sacks, a Solidarity With Honduras poster, and a Tibetan mortar and pestle. Seating: Fairly tight communal seating. There’s a beautiful glass-encircled conference room (with tree stump base for the table), and three “phone booths.” Cost: Monthly membership: $495. Day pass: $30. Bonus: Some memberships grant access to Hub’s San Francisco location. (510) 649-7700,

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jeans for any style, or scope out the array of shaving products, plus the coolest women’s casual pieces. Bonus: All profits go to five different local and international charities, including Danville-based Teen Esteem. 145 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 831-8500,

Retail Lane

Explore East Prospect Avenue, Danville’s superchic shopping block. by ca i t li n mc c u llo c h

When news broke that Elisa Wen was back with a new boutique, we couldn’t wait to check it out. To our delight, the store is on East Prospect Avenue in Danville. This small street is a shopper’s dream. Here’s our guide on where to go and what to buy. Dress for the Occasion: Elisa Wen From basket-weave backs to pops of neon and splashes of leather, Elisa Wen has any kind of dress a fashionista could hope for. Here, you can find well-known brands like Milly, and Robbi and Nikki, which offer contemporary, cutting-edge looks with feminine flair. Bonus: The French country–style furniture is also

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available for purchase. 134 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 263-9750, The Basics: Christina’s Fine Clothing Sometimes, the simplest things are the hardest to find. Need a red bandeau? Check. How about a cami that’s extra long or has lace detail, or is a specific shade of blue? Christina’s has that, too. Bonus: For about 15 bucks a pop, you can stock up on style staples. 145 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 362-8682, christi Men’s Jeans: Edge With clothing options for men and women, there’s no reason your date can’t tag along. Find men’s

Visit Wonderland: Niquea D Old-world charm meets upscale French flair at this enchanting boutique, which holds such offerings as perfumed soaps, candles, fancy candies, bags, and jewelry. A chandelier fit for a queen meets the handpainted royal blue walls. Bonus: Enjoy free sparkling water with flavored syrups and macarons to feel extra pampered. 154 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 855-5538, The Perfect Skirt: Ella J Maxi skirt lovers rejoice! These feminine, trickyto-find bottoms fit just right, plus they come in marvelous colors and patterns. Aztec prints are in for fall, and I just so happened to spot a skirt here that fits the bill. Bonus: These skirts are a steal. A coral stunner for $36? Yes, please. 169 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 820-8367, ellaj

samantha schneider

Street Scene |

Foot Candy Aficionados: Flaunt In addition to finding a plethora of tops and dresses, we stumbled upon Yosi Samra shoes. These folding flats are fashionable and can easily be slipped into a purse. Go from day to night with ease, or from heels to comfort in seconds. Bonus: A huge sale area for finding high-end items on the cheap. 145 E. Prospect Ave., (925) 831-9923, shop


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The List |


↑ Rick Springfield

↑ Science of Star Wars

Theater Ella the Musical (9/6–10/12) Ella Fitzgerald comes to life in this Center Rep production set in 1966, as the legendary jazz singer prepares for a concert and reflects on her life and career— along with performances of all her top hits.

Benefit Wounded Warriors (10/10) Support injured veterans in the East Bay at this benefit concert at Wente Vineyards. Actor Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds hosts, with performers Kenny Loggins and American Idol finalist Lacey Brown. wounded

Seasonal Corn Maze (10/1–10/31) Head to Livermore’s G&M Farms for fall fun for the whole family. Trivia questions help guide the way through a six-acre corn maze, and a smaller straw bale maze and pumpkin patch are nearby for the wee ones.

Television Mythbusters: Behind the Myths (10/12) Hosts of the popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters, which films around the East Bay, share behind-thescenes stories and onstage experiments in two appearances at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre.

↑ Lacey Brown at Wounded Warriors

Speakers Uncharted (10/25–10/26) The Berkeleyside blog launches its first annual “festival of ideas,” featuring some of the city’s brightest minds, including writer and robotics expert Chris Anderson, political blogger Markos Moulitsas, and UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

Theater The Robber Bridegroom (10/16–10/26) Brand-new Clayton Theatre Company debuts with this Robin Hood– esque comedy set in 18th century Mississippi with a bluegrass score, at Endeavor Hall. clayton Exhibit Science of Star Wars (10/19–2/23) Go inside the world of Star Wars, with costumes and props from the films, hands-on design labs, and exhibits on space travel, robotics, and magnetic levitation, at San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation.

Music Rick Springfield (10/26) Don your Jellies and acid-wash denim, and head for San Ramon’s Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, where 1980s rocker Rick Springfield will play his hits, including “Jessie’s Girl.” parks/theater. ↑ Ella the Musical

2 0 o cto b e r 2 0 13

For more event picks, check out the weekly Top Tickets at diablomag. com. —LeeAnne Jones

clockwise from top left: courtesy of the city of san ramon; courtesy of the tech museum; courtesy of wounded warriors; ryan montgomery

Fall gets festive, with a wine fest, star-studded concerts, and a six-acre corn maze.

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Food and Wine


A Yosemite for All Seasons

The historic Ahwahnee Hotel offers delicious fall and winter getaways.

courtesy of the ahwahnee hotel

by pet e r c ro oks

Not many couples get to celebrate their 50th anniversary, but my grandparents, Chester and Madeline, did. For their special celebration, our family took a trip to dine at Yosemite’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel. I was a young teenager, which made everything from the high ceilings of the Ahwahnee’s stunning dining room to the steep face of El Capitan seem that much more epic and beautiful. It made sense to recognize such a milestone amid a landscape so spectacular that it caused John Muir, famed naturalist and former Martinez resident, to observe, “But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite. Every rock in its wall seems to glow with life.” My favorite memories, however, are of the giant smiles on my grandparents’ faces, as they celebrated a half-century together and shared a fine meal with the family. Two years ago, my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary and decided to continue the tradition at the Ahwahnee. Since their anniversary is in December and because my mother has always wanted to experience the hotel’s famed Bracebridge Dinner, that was the setting for their special night with family and friends. D ia blo 23


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They picked the perfect night for a dinner at the Ahwahnee: Snowflakes tumbled in the brisk air, making the enormous banquet hall feel warm and cozy, full of festive merriment. The annual Bracebridge dinner is a journey back in time that reimagines the hotel’s dining room as an 18th century English manor. The evening began with Lord Bracebridge welcoming guests to his estate for an extravagant four-hour, seven-course feast complete with pheasant and plum pudding. A large chorus sang holiday carols and broke into groups to entertain each table. There were various other entertainments throughout the evening, although I could have done with less of the admittedly talented court jester, due to my lifelong allergy to clowns. Throughout the dinner, I kept sneaking looks at my parents in their formal evening wear, enjoying every minute of their anniversary celebration. “Thank you for making a dream come true,” my mother told Lady Bracebridge as we exited. I’ll file that memory next to my grandparent’s glowing smiles in my personal Ahwahnee scrapbook.

Of course, the beauty of the Ahwahnee is that you don’t need to be celebrating an anniversary to visit. Just a three-hour drive from Danville, the hotel makes for an easy, elegant getaway from the East Bay. Throughout fall and winter, the Ahwahnee schedules wonderful food and wine events, in addition to the Bracebridge Dinner. Last November, I was invited to try another of Ahwahnee’s great food and wine traditions: the Vintners’ Holidays. These wine retreats make a perfect pairing with the bright gold and yellow leaves in the park’s black oak and cedar trees, which add a Technicolor tint to the landscape’s perennial magnificence. Vintners’ Holidays are scheduled mid week and feature afternoon tastings with prestigious winemakers. The sessions are moderated by wine journalists and experts, and the breezy, stream-of-consciousness chats with the winemakers are fun and informative. Guests learn

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“The Ahwahnee was envisioned to host world leaders and elite guests in luxury. Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Iran, and Bob Seger have slept there.” about each winery’s history, and the winemakers’ background and approach to their craft. The tastings take place in the Ahwahnee’s Great Room, a magnificent space with 24-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, with hand-stained glass that transforms the afternoon light into colorful beams. It’s a pretty cool place to sip wine between lunch and the evening’s feast. Indeed, the Ahwahnee, which opened in 1927, is the most ambitious hotel ever built in a national park. It was envisioned to host world leaders and elite guests in luxury, right in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Elizabeth, the Shah of Iran, Lucille Ball, Will Rogers, and Bob Seger have slept there. During Vintners’ Holidays, the wines are also showcased during the closing-night dinner, when the vintners’ wines are paired with an elaborate, five-course meal prepared by the


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Ahwahnee’s executive chef, Percy Whatley. The hotel hosts one more big foodie event each year. In January and February, top chefs convene at the Ahwahnee for mid week Chefs’ Holidays retreats. These getaways are food-focused, with cooking demonstrations and kitchen tours, and plenty of face time with the guest chefs during wine and hors d’oeuvres receptions. The lineup of chefs is culled from both coasts. There are almost as many New York chefs scheduled for the 2014 event as there are from California. The East Bay will be well represented by Kim Alter of Oakland’s Haven (January 15–16) and Peter Chastain from Walnut Creek’s Prima (February 2–4). I have not had a chance to attend one of the Chefs’ Holidays sessions, but that’s OK. It’s another reason my wife and I have to visit Yosemite before our 50th anniversary trip in 2059. ■




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Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel is open year-round. For information, call (801) 559-4884, or go to the-ahwahnee.aspx. Six Vintners’ Holidays packages are scheduled November 11–12 through December 4–5. They range from two to three nights, and cost $664–$1,148 per person. Sessions tend to sell out, so early reservations are strongly recommended. vintners-holidays.aspx. The 86-year-old Bracebridge tradition used to be very difficult to attend; dinner tickets were awarded by lottery. To meet the demand in recent years, eight dinners are scheduled between December 13 and 25, including Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Reservations are strongly recommended, and prices are $389 per person for dinner. (801) 559-5000, Eight Chefs’ Holidays packages are scheduled for 2014, between January 12–14 and February 5–6. Packages start at $449 per person.

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get crafty diy guide

You can blame Pinterest. Everyone from your BFF to your grandmother has gone gaga for perfect party invitations, gallery walls, craft and food blogs, upcycled fashion, scrapbooking, and DIY everything. It can become overwhelming, if you let it. But it can also be really fun. Let go of perfection and don’t take your skills too seriously: Anyone can get crafty. photograpHy by norma cordova

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paper &glue

Scrapbooking, card making, paper quilling, letterpress, Papier-mâché.


ADORABLE Cards sc r a p b o o k t e r r i to ry | b e r k e l e y


In the center of Scrapbook Territory’s bright, high-ceilinged shop, my classmates settle around a table, discussing their favorite stamp designers and spray ink brands. Despite being a lifelong scrapbooker, I can barely follow their card-making jargon. Our instructor, Georgia Summers, demonstrates “tip-to-tip” blending with Copic markers, which we’ll be using to color pre-stamped images of ballerinas and fairies. Georgia fills in an area with a light shade and makes shadow lines with a medium shade. Then, she touches the tip of the lighter marker to the darker and uses it to blend the colors together on the paper with small circles. As the ink dries, the shadows soften and look natural. We pair off and share a supply boxes for each of the four card designs. My partner works quickly but sighs a lot. She exhales and exclaims, “This hair is going to be the death of me!” But I notice she’s halfway done before I’ve even started. The markers feel like paintbrushes in my hand, as I slowly make circular blending strokes, the depth of color building on each layer like oil paint. Across the table from me, a young, aspiring anime artist puts her own creative spin on the designs while I glitter a tutu in precisely the same fashion as the class sample. I glue my ballerina to 3 0 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

patterned paper and then a prefolded card, embellishing with a tulle bow. With 45 minutes of the three-hour class remaining, my classmates begin leaving. With 30 minutes left, I’m all alone. I’m finally getting the hang of the tip-to-tip technique on my third card, as Georgia cleans up around me. “You’re doing really well,” she says over my shoulder. I suddenly feel OK about my slow, methodical approach—my ballerina’s bouncy curls casting a convincing shadow across her brow. Scrapbook Territory offers classes in card making, scrapbooking, and other paper crafts. Berkeley, (510) 559-9929, —LeeAnne Jones


Resource Guide

DIY Paper Crafting Classes to try: · Paper Source offers monthly workshops on card making and party favors, often with a seasonal twist. Get on the shop’s mailing list; classes fill up quickly. Berkeley, (510) 665-7800; Walnut Creek, (925) 3576200, · Cut, fold, and glue life-size flowers made with fancy European crepe paper at Castle in the Air. You’ll walk away with several different types of blooms and enough paper to test your new skills at home. Berkeley, (510) 204-9801,

far left: leeanne jones; portrait styling: hair, NMC; makeup, Ashley Bias

Bindu Vijay learned how to make fabric flowers from a friend 15 years ago, when she lived in India, and soon began experimenting with paper. When she moved to the United States in 2001, she decorated her San Ramon home with paper flowers, and today, she sells those intricate, lifelike crepe paper poppies, orchids, and daffodils online, mostly to brides-to-be and event planners. Q: What was your very first project, and how did it turn out? A: My first project was a white daisy. It was so simple that it turned out OK. Q: What is your favorite thing you’ve made? A: I really like hibiscus flowers, which are pretty common in India. But each time I make a new flower, I get excited, and that one becomes my favorite for a short period. Right now, it is a giant paper rose measuring about 14 inches across. Q: Describe your workspace. A: My living room is like a craft studio to showcase several of my paper and clay flowers. My dining table is a makeshift craft table. My craft supplies are stored in cabinets in the garage. Q: What is your most unique, surprising, or unusual crafting tool? A: I use a wooden barbecue skewer for curling the petals of


Bindu Vijay pa p e r f low e r m a k e r | Sa n r a m o n

some flowers. Q: How do you push through creative blocks? A: Besides paper flowers, I also work on clay flowers and paint. Occasionally, I teach craft classes for kids, too. Working with different mediums helps me keep

up my enthusiasm. Q: If someone is interested in paper crafting, where should they start? A: There are a lot of books and YouTube videos teaching the basics of making paper flowers. Once you know the basics, you can start ex-

perimenting with various techniques. And nature can provide a good deal of inspiration. View or purchase Vijay’s work at her website, flowerbazaar. net, or Etsy shop, etsy. com/shop/flowerbazaar. —LeeAnne Jones

Shops to browse: · Explore handmade paper, screen-printed washi, and more at Miki’s Paper, which specializes in Japanese paper and crafts, and also sells journals and photo albums. Berkeley, (510) 845-9530, · Richard’s Arts and Crafts is packed with paper, craft scissors, and stickers, plus an entire section that’s devoted to glues and adhesives. Alamo, (925) 820-4731; Livermore, (925) 4470471, Group to join: · Volunteer at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, a nonprofit that sells art and craft materials and vintage goods to divert waste from landfills. Oakland, (510) 547-6470, creativereuse. org. —Stacey Kennelly

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ink &paint

Watercolors, oil paint, calligraphy, illustration, acrylics, oil pastels.


Have a Splash c a n va s a n d c a b e r n e t | wa l n u t c r e e k


It’s Friday night: Time for diversion, levity, and maybe a drink. Canvas and Cabernet, Walnut Creek’s new art/ wine studio, beckons from downtown. Rumor has it I’ll leave the three-hour class with something good enough to hang on my wall. I get there early and scope it out. It’s a visual paradise with paintings hanging on every wall, jugs of paint lining the shelves behind the bar, and long tables with white canvases in neat rows. Then, I see the displays of one-ofa-kind jewelry, scarves, and handbags. Art, wine, and shopping? This could be better than I thought. It’s going to be a full house tonight, a friendly staff person tells me as he hands me brushes and a paint-stained apron. I order a glass of red wine and squirt puddles of tonight’s colors on my paper-plate palette. I settle into my spot, and students begin to arrive, mostly groups of women and a few couples. Our charismatic teacher, Julee Herr-mann, puts on a mic and guides us step by step through our project. We’re painting a red bridge with a twinkling metropolis behind it, and while her instructions are clear, Julee is quick to introduce us to “artist’s choice.” Basically, we are free to do exactly as she says or anything we want: It’s your painting, and if you want to add a little more red to your sunset, you go right ahead, she 3 2 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

says. I add on Van Gogh–influenced swirls of paint and texture to my sky. It’s mostly easy wide brushstrokes until we get to the bridge. I’m a little nervous about painting a long red line across my beautiful sky. Julee is there to help, moving from artist to artist. She shows us simple techniques to add depth and detail, using a fine brush and white paint mixed with a few drops of paint water. Three hours fly by, and we mill around, complimenting each other’s work. It’s true: We’re talented. I like my painting. It resembles Julee’s but has the swirly sky and pyramid Transamerica building. I know exactly the wall in my office where it will go. Give your creative spirit some space—and a little wine—and the results may surprise you. Canvas and Cabernet offers classes on Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Walnut Creek, (925) 287-1614, —Gina Gotsill


Resource Guide

DIY Drawing and Painting Classes to try: · Similar to Canvas and Cabernet, Pinot’s Palette instructs painting recreations, from amber sunsets and beach dunes to Italian marketplaces and waterfronts. Try it solo, or bring your girlfriends. Danville, (925) 743-9900, pinotspalette. com/danville. · You can paint your own pottery any day of the week at Café Art. Plates, mugs, and picture frames start at $5, and staff members will help you get started. Dublin, (925) 829-7778; Livermore, (925) 373-0222,

far left: gina gotsill; portrait styling: Hair and makeup, Nikol Dedischew

Inspired by the handlettered price tags at Berkeley’s Tail of the Yak, Diva Pyari took a calligraphy class at the shop. She began selling hand-printed cards in 2007, expanded to screen-printed linens, and today, her designs can be found at stores like Anthropologie. Q: What was your very first project, and how did it turn out? A: In my class, there was a bride-to-be who wanted to learn calligraphy to make her own invitations and address the envelopes. I picked it up pretty fast, and she hired me for her project. It turned out so well and I enjoyed it so much that when word got out, I continued to take more and more custom calligraphy and lettering work. Q: How would you describe your style? A: Cheerful and pretty, with a side of playfulness, au naturel. Q: Describe your workspace. A: I have a couple big work tables, and on the wall by my computer is a huge corkboard where I post things that make me smile: bright pink ribbon, a photo of my friend’s daughter wearing a cape she made of all her stuffed animals, a quick sketch of my dog, paper-cut feathers… Q: What is your most frequently used tool? A: My pen and nib, gocco (Japanese screen

Shops to browse: · Utrecht Art Supplies has a huge selection of paint and canvases, and is good for artists on a budget. Berkeley, (510) 649-0808, · Blick Art Materials has been around for more than 100 years, and is a go-to spot for professional-quality artist’s paints, brushes, and canvases. Oakland, (510) 658-2787; Berkeley, (510) 486-2600,


Diva Pyari calligrapher | berkeley

printer), and computer. Q: How do you push through creative blocks? A: For me, I find it’s so important to keep active and spend time in nature. I hike with my adorable dogs every day, do yoga and ballet

throughout the week, and although sometimes it’s just for five minutes, I meditate to start the day. Q: What do you think of Pinterest and the rise of DIY culture? A: I think it’s great. I’m such a visual person, so Pinterest is a fun place

to get inspired. And I’m thankful so many people are into DIY: The Calligraphy Starter Kit is my best-seller. Pyari teaches calligraphy around the Bay Area. View or purchase her work at linea-carta. com. —LeeAnne Jones

Group to join: · Bond with other artists in the East Bay Landscape Painters Group, a collaborative network that celebrates oils, watercolors, and pastels. eblandscape.blogspot. com. —Stacey Kennelly

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clay&glass &metal Pottery, jewelry making, glass blowing, beading, sculpting, welding.


Shiny Pretty Things A rt G l ass St u d i o | l i v e r m o r e


When I enter Livermore’s Art Glass Studio, I find myself in a wonderland of sparkly stained glass, from windows and ornaments to wind chimes, all of which you can make in the studio’s spacious workshop. While my artistic skills are seriously limited, I’ve enrolled in a beginning mosaic class in search of a craft I might like and to create something I can be proud of, or at least something I can give away to the thrift store if it turns out like my painting/knitting/beading/ felting attempts. “You can mosaic anything,” owner Roberta Jones says encouragingly, so I choose a heart mold from a variety of shapes and letters she has on hand. Jones presents me with platters of stained-glass pieces the colors of your favorite Crayolas, along with a familiar bottle of Tacky glue. She says creating a mosaic “takes you away from reality,” so I try to ignore the questions that have nagged at me since kindergarten: Am I doing this right? Should I start over? Would a more creative person do it a different way? After about 20 minutes, I find the richly colored glass bits start to absorb my thoughts. I begin to breathe more deeply as I arrange the purples and pinks, throwing in a little sky blue here, a touch of white, a rich lavender. I get a little thrill when a swirly oval piece fits 3 4 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

just right. I begin to find it all (dare I say it?) actually meditative. I don’t say om or anything, but I don’t need to. “You can’t rush stained glass,” the patient Jones reminds even her advanced glass-cutting students in the back of the workspace, so I relax into my cushy chair and contemplate my shimmering jigsaw puzzle, music playing softly on the stereo. I am at last really enjoying making something, and my fingers aren’t even that gluey. I’ll be placing my mosaic heart in the window by my desk so the sun can cast raspberry hues over my work. I’ve got plenty of other stuff I can give to the thrift store anyway. Art Glass Studio offers classes in stained-glass cutting, mosaics, and glass fusing. Livermore, (925) 4471962, —Linda Lenhoff


Resource Guide

DIY Mixed Media Classes to try: · Try your hand at fusing and slumping, bead making, or mosaics in one of Civic Arts Education’s beginner’s glass classes. If you can take the heat, move on to more advanced projects, like jewelry casting and fabrication. Walnut Creek, (925) 943-5846, · Slow Burn Glass offers glass-blowing classes up to three times a week to teach beginners how to create a paperweight and cup. No previous experience is required. Oakland, (510) 832-2007,

far left: linda lenhoff; portrait styling: Assistant, Claudia Solis

The Internet opened up new possibilities for Cheryl Wolff, who took her first pottery class 30 years ago. The Walnut Creek artist sold to galleries and entered juried shows, and now also maintains a thriving online shop selling tableware and birdhouses. Q: What was your very first project, and how did it turn out? A: I took my first class because I wanted to make a dinnerware set. I had no idea how ambitious a task that would be: I spent countless hours learning to throw on the potter’s wheel. The early pieces were precious to me but disappointing representations of bowls and cups. I just kept at it, and eventually, I was making work I could really be proud of. Q: How would you describe your style? A: It is simple and refined, sort of quiet and elegant. People have described it as calming, having a Zen quality about it. Q: Describe your workspace. A: My studio is at my home in a large converted garage. It is really rustic, overflowing with work in progress, equipment, tools, and ideas for future projects. There are big barn doors that slide open to a view of redwood trees and the occasional deer. Q: What inspires or influences your work? A: I love making functional work, know-

Shops to browse: · House of Beads has been selling beads from around the world for nearly 20 years. Choose from standard beads like glass and wood, or more unusual ones, like bone, gold, or clay. Walnut Creek, (925) 934-5940, · The Crucible offers free tours of its industrial arts facility (think blacksmithing and stone carving) and gallery throughout the fall. Oakland, (510) 444-0919,


cheryl wolff p ot t e r | wa l n u t c r e e k

ing that someone is going to enjoy using my pieces. When I’m making tableware, I see that piece sitting on a table surrounded by someone’s family and friends. When I’m making garden pieces, I’m thinking about how they are

going to look tucked into a natural environment. Q: Does ceramics require a certain personality trait or skill set? A: You have to be OK with dirty hands and clothes. It requires patience because creating with clay is a process that

can’t be rushed. Kilns and glazes have a way of teaching us that we are not always in control. View or purchase Wolff’s work at cheryl, or Walnut Creek’s Kitchen Table and Valley Art Gallery. —LeeAnne Jones

Group to join: · The Potters’ Studio offers “24/7” memberships for those needing a place to cast, glaze, and blaze their artwork on their own schedule. Berkeley, (510) 528-3286, berkeleypottersstudio. com. —Stacey Kennelly

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fabric &yarn

Quilting, knitting, embroidery, crochet, cross-stitch, sewing, macramé.


Cats Gone Wild I n B e t w e e n st i tc h e s | l i v e r m o r e


As my teacher, Nancy Brown, discusses colors typically used for sewing fabric cats, I stare at my newly purchased materials and realize I have no idea what I am doing. With fabric ranging from blue swirls to solid pink to bright green stripes, my finished piece of cat appliqué will look anything but natural. Despite my disappointment, Nancy and my three classmates have not given up hope. They scan my quirky options and help me choose colors that, surprisingly, don’t look too bad together. I have never done appliqué, a needlework technique that uses fabric and embroidery to sew together patterns and designs that are commonly used on quilts. But I find myself among experienced sewers in a class at Livermore’s In Between Stitches, a bright shop on First Street filled with colorful bolts of fabric and intricate quilts hanging on the walls. While I enjoy arts and crafts, I have tried to avoid anything that involves working with a needle. There seems to be little room for error in the craft of sewing—a frightening idea to my inner perfectionist. However, the challenge of learning appliqué appealed to the crafter within me. After all, how hard can it be to make a little cat? There is no time to regret my decision, as Nancy takes the class through step-by-step instructions. We begin to 3 6 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

sew one piece of fabric onto another, and my classmates and teacher encourage me through every minute of the six hours we spend together. “Oh look, Amanda has sewn on her first eye,” remarks Nancy, after I have managed to attach the right eye of my psychedelic kitten’s cutout face. By the time class is finished, I leave with one nearly finished kitten (the class promised three), but a large amount of newfound confidence and appreciation for the art of sewing and quilting. I now find myself eager to apply what I have learned and begin a project of my own. Maybe I’ll turn my old athletic tournament tees into a quilt or add some flowers to a tote bag? At least now I know how to choose fabric colors. In Between Stitches offers classes in appliqué, sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Livermore, (925) 371-7064, inbetwe —Amanda Morris

START OUT WITH THE BASICS: CAST ON; KNIT, KNIT, KNIT; cast off. Boom, you just learned!

Resource Guide

DIY Needle Arts Classes to try: · Learn to spin your own yarn at The Yarn Boutique’s fiber-exploration workshops. Previous classes have focused on silk and alpaca fleece. Lafayette, (925) 283-7377, · Civic Arts Education hosts beginner’s weaving classes at Heather Farm. Once you get the hang of things, check out the advanced loom-weaving workshops to create rugs and tapestries. Walnut Creek, (925) 943-5846,

far left: amanda morris; Marissa Mahara j; eva kolenko

Emma Robertson grew up watching her grandmother knit and eventually asked for some lessons. A graphic designer by trade, the Oaklandbased knitter is about to take her hobby to the next level by releasing a book of fashion-forward knitting patterns. Q: What was your very first project, and how did it turn out? A: I think it was a simple scarf, and I remember it had tons of dropped stitches. It was a mess, but I was so proud of it. Q: What is your favorite thing you’ve made? A: This really great vest featured in my book. It has a leather pocket and a big collar that folds over in the front. I have worn it a dozen times. I love it because you can layer it with just about anything. Q: What inspires or influences your work? A: Designing garments and patterns is new to me, so I enjoy seeing what other young knitters are doing. Also, because I am a graphic designer, my knowledge in this area pours over into my knitting. It’s only natural to draw inspiration from the craft I spend the majority of my time doing! Q: How do you push through creative blocks? A: I go for a bike ride or a walk—that usually does the trick—or I make a phone call to someone I haven’t talked to in a long time. These allow

Shops to browse: · Article Pract, just off hip Temescal Alley, is chock-full of knitting patterns, supplies, and yarn, plus there’s a sale section in the back. Oakland, (510) 595-7875, · The Cotton Patch carries fabrics from basics to batiks and Japanese prints, as well as sewing machines and quilting DVDs to get you started. Lafayette, (925) 284-1177,


emma robertson d e s i g n e r a n d k n i t t e r | oa k l a n d

me to step back from my concerns or negativity and recalibrate. Q: How would you suggest someone get started with knitting? A: I have had many friends who want to learn to knit but seem to be too intimidated to dive

in. I encourage people to start out with the very, very basics: Cast on; knit, knit, knit; cast off. Boom, you basically just learned! From there, learn a few new stitches, and see how you do. See if your local knitting shop has classes: Sometimes

Group to join: · Stop by Fashion Knit for free knit night, or take a workshop with the East Bay fibercrazy group that meets there to relax and get creative. Walnut Creek, (925) 943-3994, meetup. com/fashionknit. —Stacey Kennelly

it takes another person physically showing you to make it click. Robertson’s book, Knitting by Design, will be available in stores on October 22. View more of her work online at —LeeAnne Jones D ia blo 37

Special Report

Fire on the Mountain: Tales From the Front Lines

September 8 was a Sunday. A hot one. As many of us were getting ready to cheer on the Niners, Giants, A’s, or America’s Cup racers, a spark from target shooting on the back side of Mount Diablo started a fire that soon set our mountain ablaze. ¶ For those near Mount Diablo, it was a sleepless night as the fire grew. Local firefighters stayed on the mountain for more than 24 hours, until backup arrived from around the state, and 100 homes were evacuated along Morgan Territory Road. Residents along the 680–24 corridor snapped photos of the smoke rising from the peak, and called friends and family to make sure they were OK. ¶ Here are the stories of the Morgan Fire, from the people who saw it up close. 3 8 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3


»“It burned so angrily.”

Mike Marcucci Contra Costa Battalion Chief, Cal Fire

clockwise from top left: stephen joseph; GS Clark at Spyglass Hill Images; Jose Carlos Fa jardo

As told to Stacey Kennelly.

I have a very close relationship to the mountain. It is the centerpiece of my battalion as well as the centerpiece of the Bay Area. It’s right out our window, and we stare at it all day long, wondering, “What would we do if it did catch fire?” I was on a day off in San Francisco, enjoying the America’s Cup and a show. When I got out of the show, I turned my phone back on, and by then the fire had exploded and was burning out of control. When I got to the fire scene, it had slowed down a bit. But not for long. I met with my chief and the incident commander at the time, and we decided to take a helicopter ride to see if we were going to need to call in an incident management team to help. At that time, the fire was about 800 acres. The one thing you don’t want to do is make a big deal out of a small fire. We have trigger points, and we have decision points. And we decided that if the fire crossed the North Peak road, we would order in a command team, which brings in 1,000 people. If we did that, we’d also have to decide where we were going to put everybody. We thought about a few locations, and decided on Camp Parks, a military base in Dublin. I took about five helicopter flights over the fire to constantly reassess its conditions. This is my 24th year in the fire department, and in very few instances have I seen more spectacular fire behavior. There were parts of the mountain that had never burned, at least in our known history. There were 80- to 100-foot flame lengths coming off the mountain. The way it sparked, it looked like fuel burning—like actual gasoline. (continued on 140) D ia blo 39


»“It happened so fast.”


Day by Day: A Fire’s Progress

Dylan Jorgensen Fire Apparatus Engineer



Number of bull-dozers.

Day 1 September 8 A fire call is dispatched to the Sunshine Fire Station on Marsh Creek Road around 1 p.m. The original fire is quickly contained, but a spot fire nearby flares up and out of control. Crews attack the second fire and remain on the mountain through the night. Day 2 September 9 Relief firefighter crews arrive on the mountain by the end of the day. The fire spreads to 3,077 acres and is only 20 percent contained. Evacuations are ordered for homes near Morgan Territory. Day 3 September 10 Firefighters report that the fire is 45 percent contained. Fire chars 3,111 acres.

4 0 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

Day 4 September 11 The fire is 80 percent contained, with hot spots smoldering in many places but no active flames. Engines, firefighters, and other resources from around the state start to head home, and fire duties are handed off to local departments. Day 5 September 12 The firefighter compound at Camp Parks continues to demobilize. Fire officials release a cause: target shooting. Day 6 September 13 The fire nears full containment. Day 7 September 14 The fire is 100 percent contained. Mt. Diablo State Park reopens two days later.


Number of helicopters.

1,352 Number of fire personnel.

We were just finishing up lunch at the station and were really excited to watch the 49ers and Green Bay Packers game. Right as it was about to start, though, the buzzer from our dispatch center went off. I went on the lower part of the fire, and my partner, the captain who was behind me, went on the upper part. At that point, the fire was maybe a quarter of an acre. It was just burning in some grass and pine needles, and hadn’t gotten into the trees yet or anything. I reported back that there wasn’t much of a threat. Within 10 minutes, we had a hose around the fire, and the firefighters were starting to mop up some of the hot spots inside. We started to investigate for the origin and cause, but as I was walking over to talk to a property owner, one of the battalion chiefs pulled up and told me there was a spot fire 800 to 1,000 feet away. But this one was burning in a different type of fuel bed. The fuel bed the spot fire landed in was heavy, dense brush, with an oak and pine mixed overstory. Just really, really critically dry fuels. By the time we were able to move our engines and get hose lines in place, the spot fire had taken off like gasoline. The fuels were so heavy that it was hard for our crews to get in there and get the hose lines in place to put water on it. It was just … it was gone. By that time of day, it was still only, probably, 2 o’clock. It happened so fast. I was assigned to the left flank, or the Morgan Territory side of the fire. It was probably 50 to 100 acres, and we started ordering more resources. For the next five to six hours, we were just trying (continued on 141)

left to right: adam hayes; thomas broening

As told to Stacey Kennelly.

Fire Apparatus Engineer Dylan Jorgensen and Cal Fire Contra Costa Battalion Chief Mike Marcucci.


»“It was what hell looks like.”

Tamara Thole Steiner Editor, Clayton Pioneer As told to Robert Burnson.

It started Sunday afternoon. I heard a fire truck go by, and I followed it, and when I turned the corner a half mile up the road, I was blown away. The fire was huge. And it kept growing. Was it just over the next hill? We didn’t know. It looked like a volcano with lava everywhere. I was trying to get as much information as I could for the paper. But we lost Internet when the fire burned the power lines, and our cell phones only worked sporadically. Mostly, we were in an information blackout. In the morning, I drove to town to get the paper out. We didn’t finish until almost midnight. When I tried to get home, the road was blocked. I stayed at the house of a friend, until the police called at 3 a.m. and said I could go home. When I got to Morgan Territory, the scene was indescribable. It was what hell looks like. The oak trees were glowing embers. Firefighters were cutting down the stumps to make sure they weren’t still burning. And behind that, the whole mountain looked like charcoal. By Tuesday morning, it was still smoky, but we were no longer facing a wall of fire. There were lots of helicopters flying overhead making water drops. Things are getting back to normal now. It’s still a little smoky, and there’s lots of ash on the ground. I’m wondering what it’s going to look like on North Peak. That was my place … where I always hike. But we’re so grateful. No one lost a house. In the grand scheme of things, burning that mountain is good. It’s nature’s way of taking out the trash.

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»“The kids were nervous.”

»“There was a wall of fire.”

Eric Niles Head of the Athenian School in Danville

Anthony Carini Evacuee

As told to Robert Burnson.

As told to Robert Burnson.

The Athenian campus is set in a bowl, with the mountain rising around it. We had a good view of the fire on Monday, and that put the whole campus on edge. The kids were curious and nervous. Parents were calling. And there was a time in the afternoon—when the smoke and fire was at its worst—that we started wondering about the air quality, and about how fast the fire was moving. But they got the fire under control pretty quickly after that, and the moment passed. Throughout the day, I stayed in close contact with the leadership of the fire department. They had my cell phone number, and I had theirs. They promised to give us 24 hours’ notice if we needed to evacuate. But we were ready to go at any time. We kept the bus drivers on campus all day, and if I had to, I could have gotten the kids—all 460 of them—off the campus in a few minutes. I won’t overdramatize it: There was never a moment when we were in danger. Of course, most of my day was taken up by the fire. But if you’re the head of this school and there’s a fire on the mountain, that’s your job.



Number of air tankers needed to battle the blaze.


Number of fire engines.


Jose Carlos Fa jardo

Number of state park bathrooms destroyed in the fire.

I was up at Kennedy Meadows when I heard about the fire. I called my neighbor, and he said, “You better get home.” So I jumped in my truck and started driving. It took me three and a half hours to get home. But when I got there, they wouldn’t let me go up the road. I lied and said I had my horses at the house. So the officer said he’d get a search and rescue team to go up there with me. But then I had to tell the truth—that I didn’t have any horses up there—and he got really mad and told me to leave. I spent the night at my sister’s house. My neighbor hadn’t evacuated, so I kept checking in with him. He said the flames were very close. He could see them. I was scared to death that we were going to lose the house. I got up early and drove back to the roadblock. This time, I told them I lived on Morgan Territory Road, and they let me through. When I got to Oak Hill Lane, there was no roadblock, so I snuck in. There were lots of fire trucks going up and down the street. I found my neighbor, and we sat it out together. The fire seemed to be dying down. We thought we were out of the woods. But on Monday night, another fire started, and there was a wall of fire coming toward the house. We packed up the truck with valuables and drove down the hill. They were able to stop it at the creek, about a quarter mile away. After it quieted down, we went back home. We didn’t get much sleep that night. We took shifts watching the fire. We were lucky. My neighbor lost an old tractor. Some other people lost fence lines. But no one lost a home.



»“You could feel the heat.”

»“I was obsessed.”

Alex Shveyda Instructor at Earthquake Arabians

Stephen Joseph Photographer As told to Peter Crooks.

As told to Robert Burnson.

I have never been so scared in my entire life. They called us at 8:30 on Monday night and said that the fire was literally burning across the street from the barn. We had moved some of the horses out of the barn on Sunday so that there wouldn’t be too many left to fit in the trailers, if we had to get out in a hurry. But we still had 15 horses trapped in the barn with no way out. We drove out there. But they wouldn’t let anyone go down the road. So we had to walk the last half-mile. It was frightening. The fire was coming right up to the road. You could feel the heat. The fire had already jumped the road once, and I was thinking that one gust of wind could blow it right back on us. Fortunately, it didn’t, and we got to the barn, and the horses were all right. We wanted to get the horses out as soon as possible. But they still weren’t letting anyone on the road. So all we could do was to wait and get everything we could that was flammable out of the barn. At about 2:15 in the morning, they opened up the road, and we loaded up all the horses on trailers and got them out of there. Thank heavens for all the men and women who stopped the fire on our side of the road. If they hadn’t, I don’t think we would have been able to get the horses out. I’m so glad this is all over, and the horses are safe. But I’m sad about what the fire did. I used to ride all the trails out there. But now all those trails are completely destroyed. It’s going to take a while before we can ride out there again.

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The year Mount Diablo last burned. (Before that, it was 1931.)

3,111 6 Acres burned.

Number of months restoration efforts are expected to last.

Online Extra

Read more firstperson accounts of the Morgan Fire, and view our gallery of readersubmitted photos, at morganfire.

I have been photographing Mount Diablo since 1987, and in all these years, nothing like this had happened. I was obsessed with the fire, following updates on my iPhone. It was beautiful and horrific all at the same time. The night the fire broke out, I went to Dinosaur Hill in Pleasant Hill to take pictures. I got there around dark and stayed until midnight because it was so captivating. The tower of smoke looked like an atomic bomb had gone off. The next morning, I headed to Kregor Peak, the very first peak east of the mountain, just east of Clayton, where I had a bird’s-eye view. I thought I would stay for an hour or two, but I was there all day. It was absolutely mesmerizing to watch the way the fire was fought, to observe the strategy of the battle, from the giant DC-10 swooping and dropping fire retardant and helicopters dropping water, to the firefighters on the ground attacking every wisp of smoke and fire that would break out. It was terrifying from a distance to see those firefighters up against walls of flame. I can’t imagine what it would have looked like on the ground. There’s the part of you that worries about the immediate threats, the possible loss of homes and life. But then, there is the realization that fire is a necessary part of the environment.


»“It was round the clock.”

Mayor of Claycord Blogger

Jose Carlos Fa jardo

As told to LeeAnne Jones.

I was visiting with family in Concord, when my phone started blowing up. E-mails were coming in from readers out in Morgan Territory who saw smoke and wanted to know what was going on. I knew this was going to be something big; you could just tell by the response in the community. I walked outside and could see the smoke. People were coming to the site looking for information, so I put up a general post that basically said, “Hey, there is a fire in the area, and we’re looking into it. Stay tuned.” That day, I stayed up until 1 or 2 in the morning, and then got up at 4 or 5 to check in. I got up again around 7 for Cal Fire updates. It was round the clock. The website nearly crashed: There were 250,000 page views in one half hour on Monday. I knew there were people out there at evacuation centers or staying with friends, wondering what was going on. It was hard for me to take extended breaks when someone’s house might be burning down. I also worried about firefighters losing their lives or being severely injured. Seeing some of the photos, you really get a sense of what they’re doing up there on the mountain. It’s unbelievable: walls of flames up against these guys and gals. It’s not an easy job. I don’t even like to go outside in 90 degrees, let alone fight a fire in it. I can’t stress enough how important they are. I went down to Station 11 in Clayton just to see what was going on. While I was there, about 20 people dropped off bottled water or bags of food from Burger King. There were kids who made hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The fire is the big story, but the way the community came together is a huge story, too. I am so proud of the Claycord community. ■ D ia blo 45

Rock ’n’ Roll

Making a Concert Film

M Metallica at the Movies

The rock legends have blazed a creative trail from El Cerrito to IMAX.

t h i r t y y e a r s a g o , a g r o u p o f young musicians moved into a tiny house in the East Bay, set up their equipment in the garage, and set their sights on becoming one of the biggest hard rock bands ever. The humble little house, now known as the Metallica Mansion, is still there, although the band members have moved into the kind of actual mansions that can be afforded after selling 100 million albums, and playing countless sold-out stadiums around the world. More than three decades into its run, Metallica continues to try new things: The band has recorded a live album with the San Francisco Symphony, and recently played its first-ever shows in China, then headed to Harlem for an intimate concert at the famed Apollo Theater. And this month, the band will release a feature film, Metallica Through the Never, in IMAX cinemas around the world. Both an epic concert film and a surreal narrative, Through the Never uses many forms of new-technology 3-D cameras, high-definition sound, and an enormous high-tech stage) to create one of the most ambitious rock movies of all time. Hitting IMAX theaters on September 27 and standard theaters on October 4, Through the Never follows one of the band’s roadies through an apocalyptic fever dream outside of Metallica’s sold-out concert in Mexico City.

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courtesy of metallica

by pet e r c ro oks

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Rock ’n’ Roll

(Think Pink Floyd’s The Wall crossed with The Band’s The Last Waltz.) An accompanying soundtrack album hits record stores and iTunes on October 1. In the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to feature Metallica’s lead singer, James Hetfield, and guitarist, Kirk Hammett, in Diablo. For this story, founding band member and drummer Lars Ulrich called me from the road, somewhere outside of Shanghai, to talk about Through the Never and Metallica’s constant drive to push its creative envelope.

“The stage we built was the size of an aircraft carrier, and we built it first on Treasure Island in the old seaplane hangar.”

Q: You’ve just played your first shows in China, which is par for Metallica’s course, in that you always seem to be doing new things. A: China has been really cool. Shanghai is a city full of life and energy and culture. It’s a really invigorating place. We have been going through a phase the last few years where we have been exploring new things. We love poking our heads out of our comfort zone and finding situations that are a little edgy. We’re very fortunate that we have the capacity to do that. We’re very appreciative that the success that we have had can let us go into these uncharted territories. It keeps us alive and creatively curious, and it’s pretty awesome that 32 years into this, we can continue to stick our nose into places we haven’t been, or shouldn’t go. [Laughs] Q: The spirit of creativity is something that’s very apparent in your new film, Through the Never. I’ve always found that concert films have a hard time capturing the experience of a live concert. So it’s interesting to see you adding this surreal

narrative to your music, to create a new kind of experience on film. A: We did not feel that the world needs another documentary-style concert film about a rock ’n’ roll band. You know, folding the lunch meat on a piece of bread, and here we are in a prayer circle, and here we are getting stretched before we take the stage. So what else can you do? We thought of two things: first, bringing a narrative into it and having a story to tell. And instead of the live concert footage being filmed from the audience’s point of view, we wanted to bring the cameras up on stage so the audience feels like it’s onstage with Metallica instead of watching Metallica from the audience. Q: Can you talk about the technology used in the film, specifically the 3-D photography for IMAX and advanced sound work? A: Yes, the 3-D effect we went for was more of an immersion effect, rather than the traditional thing where

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it’s: Here I am sticking my drumstick in your face. IMAX came to us about 15 years ago about doing a specialty concert film. The cameras at that time were too big and bulky, and it would have been a nightmare. The idea circled back around again three years ago, and it was the right time because of the advancement in the cameras as well as the next-level sound experience. We spent as much time, effort, and resources in bringing the sound up to the level of the visual experience. It’s pretty exciting: I was listening to the last cut a couple of weeks ago on the soundstage where they filmed the last James Bond film. It’s all next-level stuff. Q: I heard James Cameron [director of Avatar and Titanic] consulted on how to use the 3-D cameras. Why? A: Obviously, if you’re doing a 3-D undertaking, the road leads through James Cameron, as he has been the most innovative with 3-D. So in the early stages, there were meetings with James and his team about how to use the cameras and technologies. There are two ways you can do a 3-D film: You can shoot it in 2-D and convert it later into 3-D, or you can shoot it in 3-D and go for that next-level experience throughout. We opted for the latter, shooting it with 3-D cameras and a whole bunch of technical stuff that’s way above my head. That technology is constantly changing and evolving. I’m sure the equipment we used a year ago is already outdated. Q: The last time we spoke, it was about your acting role in the HBO film Hemingway and Gellhorn [filmed in the East Bay], in which you played an

© Metallica Through the Never, Courtesy of Picturehouse

Making a Concert Film

innovative director making a cutting-edge film in the 1930s. Is there any connection between those experiences? A: I wish I could tell you that there was. Hemingway and Gellhorn was an amazing project; it was a great experience, but the Metallica film was already in the works. I learned a lot from director Phil Kaufman, and one of the reasons I wanted to do that was to be in a situation where I’m unfamiliar, but surrounded by people of that caliber, so I could just be a sponge and absorb that experience. Q: One of my favorite concert films is Gimme Shelter, about the Rolling Stones’ infamous concert at the Altamont Speedway. There’s the amazing music, but also it’s a powerful document of a scary and tragic event. What concert films influenced Through the Never? A: I would rank Gimme Shelter up at the very top, seeing all the footage of the Stones behind the scenes, helicopter rides, and in the editing room, and it’s such an amazing snapshot of an amazing period of time. Also, The Band’s The Last Waltz is a reference as a concert with a real emphasis on the performance. What’s happened over the past couple of decades is that there has been a lot of quick editing and shorter attention span stuff that came out of the MTV era. Now, I love MTV, and MTV has been responsible for a lot of Metallica’s success. But The Last Waltz is edited like a movie: You get nice long shots, and it’s not edited in that machine-gun style. Finally, it’s impossible not to think of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the

Same. Those were real films, and that’s what we wanted to do. Q: I wanted to make sure we touched on Metallica’s East Bay heritage. I heard that you guys rented out the entire Oracle Arena to rehearse for the concerts. A: Yes. Everything about this film was thought out. We didn’t just film the last few shows of a world tour. So the stage we built was the size of an aircraft carrier, and we built it first on Treasure Island in the old seaplane hangar. Then, the second round of rehearsals was at Oracle, where we have always had great experiences, both playing there and going there as fans of music to see our favorite bands. We’ve spent a lot of great time in that building over the years. Q: Last year, I ran into James Hetfield at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, and I’ve interviewed Kirk Hammett about growing up in El Sobrante and all his haunts and hangouts. What are your favorite spots in the East Bay? A: My fiancée [model Jessica Miller] and I go almost every week to the Shattuck Cinemas in downtown Berkeley. We drive over from Marin, and watch art house movies and these cool under-the-radar films that we love to see. Hit a restaurant, grab a Starbucks, and park ourselves at the Shattuck for two or three films. Listen, I could talk to you for six hours about the East Bay, with our history in El Cerrito, going back to those crazy days in the 1980s. But these days, Shattuck night is our favorite night out. ■

The East Bay Metallica Tour These local spots have played major roles in Metallica’s 32-year history. Metallica Mansion: This tiny house at 3132 Carlson Boulevard in El Cerrito was home to Metallica during its breakthrough years in the mid–1980s. The band’s classic albums Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets were written and rehearsed in the garage. Ruthie’s Inn: This long-gone nightclub at 2618 San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley was a place in the 1980s to see punk and metal bands, such as Dead Kennedys and Social Distortion. Metallica’s Ruthie’s shows, featuring original performances of Kill ’Em All and Ride the Lightning, are the stuff bootleg recorders’ dreams are made of. Oakland Coliseum: The home of the A’s and Raiders is not the fanciest stadium anymore, but it’s certainly a significant landmark in rock ‘n’ roll history. Led Zeppelin played its last U.S. concerts here at a Day on the Green festival in 1977. And Metallica played three Day on the Green shows, opening for the Scorpions in 1985, headlining in 1991, and co-headlining in 1992 with Guns N’ Roses.

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professionals The East Bay’s health-care professionals are on the cutting edge of their fields—using innovative treatments and state-of-the-art technology. But more important, they have heart. These professionals are passionate about their work. They care about their patients. They care about their community. Read on to meet some of these men and women. Inside photography by Jessamyn Photography

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STEPHEN SNOW, DDS Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry

Snow Dental Care 909 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 216, Danville (925) 820-6003, Artistic. Meticulous. Compassionate. Dr. Stephen Snow is one of only six individuals in the world to be both accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and an invited member of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. He is recognized and respected by his peers for his knowledge and expertise. Graduating first in his class at the UCLA School of Dentistry, he has gone on to become a sought-after national lecturer and a faculty member at the UCLA Center for Esthetic Dentistry, in addition to maintaining his private practice in Danville. Dr. Snow’s team offers professionalism, warmth, and individualized attention, creating a welcoming atmosphere and enjoyable experience for each patient. As an accomplished musician, photographer, and artist, he brings a unique insight and sensitivity to dentistry by balancing precision and creativity. With this unique blend of expertise, Dr. Snow is able to design a personalized aesthetic result for each patient. That is the art of dentistry.

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karam abdou, DDS, and Max Greenfield, DDS General and Cosmetic Dentistry

Dental Care of Walnut Creek 1111 Civic Drive, Suite 145, Walnut Creek (925) 937-9017, Dental Care of Walnut Creek specializes in aesthetic, restorative, and general dentistry in a relaxing spa-type environment. Patients are surrounded by murals in a unique atmosphere while receiving the newest and most high-tech services available. Smile makeovers are completed with porcelain veneers, and teeth are straightened without the use of braces. Teeth can become five to eight shades whiter after a one-hour whitening session. With years of experience, Dr. Abdou and Dr. Greenfield are committed to customized treatments specific to the needs of the patients and high-quality dental care.

Thomas B. McNemar, MD, FACS Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

McNemar Cosmetic Surgery 2301 Camino Ramon, Suite 215, San Ramon (925) 866-0177, Using the latest techniques for faster recovery, Dr. McNemar performs cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, including face-lift techniques that require minimal downtime, Vaser liposuction, minimally invasive breast augmentation, and body-contouring after weight loss. A board-certified plastic surgeon and coauthor of Bariatric Plastic Surgery and Breast Augmentation & Body Contouring, Dr. McNemar is a trusted and approachable specialist improving the lives of his patients. With a warm and attentive office staff, patients are treated with respect and given individualized attention to ensure that their personal goals are met, and they have a positive and fulfilling experience. 5 2 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Contra Costa Oncology Medical Oncology and Hematology Vandana Rajagopalan, MD; Michael Sherman, MD, PhD; and Diana Superfin, MD 500 Lennon Lane, Walnut Creek (925) 939-9610, When faced with cancer and blood disorders, nothing is more important than finding comprehensive and progressive health care. Contra Costa Oncology (CCO) offers every patient just that and something more—hope. You will be treated by a team of nationally recognized oncology experts who are highly trained, with specialized oncology nurses and support staff who are all dedicated to providing you and your family with respect and the highest quality oncology and hematology care. “We’re fully committed to our patients, making sure they have the best possible experience during difficult times,” says Michael Sherman, MD, PhD, the practice’s founder and director. Services include chemotherapy and biological infusion therapy, patient education, genetic risk assessment, clinical trials, access to pharmaceutical assistance programs, and financial counseling. The main location is the only medical oncology office in Walnut Creek and offers infusion therapy in a tranquil setting in the Shadelands Medical Park. CCO also has locations in San Ramon, Concord, and Rossmoor, plus a new Danville location at Crow Canyon Medical Center, 1320 El Capitan Drive, which offers full medical oncology services, including infusion therapy.

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Salim Shelby, MD Board Certified Advanced Gastroenterologist

Executive Surgery Center 1320 El Capitan Drive, Suite 100, Danville (925) 866-9300 Dr. Salim Shelby has provided patient care in the community for more than 13 years. He is expertly trained in the areas of reflux disorders and colon cancer screening, as well as pancreatic and bile duct diseases. Dr. Shelby incorporates leading-edge technologies into his practice at the Executive Surgery Center in Danville, as the only outpatient facility to offer pancreatic endoscopic ultrasound services and as the exclusive provider of Third Eye速 colonoscopy in the region. By providing an additional camera during the procedure, the advanced Third Eye速 Retroscope速 device has been shown to improve the detection of pre-cancerous polyps by over 23% versus standard colonoscopy. Dr. Shelby and his office staff are at your service for all your gastrointestinal needs.

Steven Williams, MD Plastic Surgery

Tri Valley Plastic Surgery 4000 Dublin Boulevard, Suite 300, Dublin (925) 875-0700, Tri Valley Plastic Surgery offers a variety of cosmetic procedures, from facial rejuvenation to mommy makeovers. By providing safe and natural-looking results, Tri Valley Plastic Surgery has earned thank-you notes from thrilled patients and the attention of national television shows such as Good Morning America. Dr. Williams is a Yale-trained, board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has been practicing for seven years and is an expert reviewer for the California Medical Board. By using surgical skill and state-of-the-art technologies, combined with a firm commitment to patient satisfaction, he is able to ensure incredible results. In addition to his regular practice, Dr. Williams is passionate about using his skills to volunteer and travels with his team to Honduras each year specifically to perform reconstructive surgery for children. 5 4 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Diablo Family Physicians Family Medicine and Medical Weight Loss Mark Flores, PA-C; Naomi Mata, MD; Mark Musco, MD; Dolores Musco, MD; Jola Omski, MD; Diem Tran Gerba, PA; Shawndra Parise, MD 2301 Camino Ramon, Suite 180, Bishop Ranch 11, San Ramon (925) 866-1005, Diablo Family Physicians is excited to announce the launch of LeanMD, a medically directed weight loss program, which uses the combination of the best real food, simple meal planning, and nutritional and prescription medical support to achieve your health and weight goals. Want to lose up to five pounds in a week? Please give Diablo Family Physicians a call to learn more about this weight loss solution. Diablo Family Physicians is a full-spectrum primary-care practice, treating and caring for a wide range of patients, from newborns just making their way into the world to seniors who are already wise to its ways. Doctors Dolores and Mark Musco say, “We were drawn to family medicine to create ongoing relationships with our patients. Our passion is listening. Our profession is communication. Our goal is to advocate wellness for our patients, as if each patient is a member of our own family.”

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Iraj Sabahi, MD Arthritis and Osteoporosis Specialist 5720 Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 100, Pleasanton (925) 264-7100, Dr. Sabahi is board certified in both rheumatology and internal medicine. Through the highest and most up to date standard of care, such as bedside musculoskeletal ultrasonogram, Dr. Sabahi focuses on the diagnosis and management of arthritis, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases. Patients are given all available options, medications, and clinical research regarding their diagnosis, as Dr. Sabahi works with them to make an informed decision regarding their treatment. Patients are provided with a multitude of services all in one location for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

SARA WASSERBAUER, MD Medical and Surgical Hair Restoration and Laser Rejuvenation 1299 Newell Hill Place, Suite 200, Walnut Creek (925) 939-4763, When patients seek the highest standards for surgical hair replacement, they gravitate to Dr. Wasserbauer’s office. From her cutting-edge FDA research and robotic hair transplant to her unique surgical experiences with FUE and plug and scar revisions, Dr. Wasserbauer has proven to be a leader in hair surgery and medicine. One of fewer than 110 board-certified hair restoration surgeons in the world, she is nationally recognized for her treatment of scalp, eyebrow, and eyelash hair loss. Dr. Wasserbauer is passionate about helping patients achieve their goals for hair replacement, and as she often says, “Hair replacement is about dignity, not vanity.” Dr. Wasserbauer and her staff are dedicated to giving you “Hair for Life!” 5 6 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Michelle J. Place, MD, FACS Plastic Surgery 919 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 255, Danville (925) 837-1347, Dr. Michelle Place is a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. Dr. Place offers the latest in minimally invasive procedures as well as body contouring, facial rejuvenation, and breast surgery in a fully accredited private surgery center. Her on-site skincare center offers the latest laser systems to treat sun damage, wrinkles, tattoo removal, and hair removal. She also offers a full line of skin treatments and products. Dr. Place and her team offer a courteous, warm, knowledgeable environment where patients can feel secure in their surgeon, the staff, and their procedure.

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Timothy Leung, MD Cosmetic Plastic Surgery

Danville Ambulatory Surgery Center Danville Aesthetic Skincare and Laser Center 905 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, Suite 110, Danville (925) 831-1317, “We love seeing our patients leave with a smile on their face,” says Dr. Leung. Men and women looking for only the best in cosmetic surgery and skincare trust Dr. Timothy Leung. Board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and having served the local community for 10 years, Dr. Leung provides a full range of surgical and nonsurgical options—from face-lifts, eyelid lifts, breast augmentation, and tummy tucks, to Botox®, Dysport ®, and fillers such as Restylane® and Juvéderm®. Registered nurse Evelyn Blumin administers all skincare and laser treatments, and the private on-site surgery center is very comfortable and convenient for patients.

Todd A. Auker, MD Laser Eye Surgery

Auker Eye Institute Pleasanton and San Ramon (925) 931-1090, “Each patient at the Auker Eye Institute is a VIP,” says Dr. Todd Auker. “Only one standard of care is acceptable: to provide the best clinical judgment, surgical skill, and quality outcomes available anywhere.” A board-certified ophthalmologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Dr. Auker has more than 20 years’ experience providing refractive cataract surgery and ocular plastic surgery. In addition, Dr. Auker personally administers Botox® and skin fillers such as Restylane® to help patients look and feel younger. 5 8 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Mount Diablo Solano Oncology Group Medical Oncology and Hematology Elizabeth Odumakinde, MD; Beverly McLeod, MD; Lesley Martin, MD; Yelena Krupitskaya, MD 2571 Park Avenue, Concord (925) 674-2100, Mount Diablo Solano Oncology is an all-female private practice located at the John Muir Cancer Institute that has been providing patients with exceptional care since 1992. The office staff and four physicians work together to provide stateof-the-art comprehensive cancer care while creating a compassionate environment, with quality care that is specifically tailored to fit the individual needs of each patient. By believing in a multidisciplinary approach, Mount Diablo Solano Oncology Group collaborates with other specialists and resources within the community and beyond. Expect attentive care and a team of physicians who listen and take the time to answer all questions that arise while a patient is receiving treatment. Mount Diablo Solano Oncology provides many treatment options, including chemotherapy, biologic therapy, growth factors, and molecularly targeted agents. Mount Diablo Solano Oncology Group, Conquering Cancer, Close to You.

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Nouri Ghorbani, MD Plastic Surgery 130 La Casa Via, Suite 102, Walnut Creek (925) 946-9004, Dr. Ghorbani’s goal is to understand his patients’ desire and expectations in order to create the most beautiful and natural results. His extensive surgical training combined with more than 25 years of experience in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery serve as the foundation for his reputation as a seasoned plastic surgeon. Board-certified, Dr. Ghorbani is revered for his expertise in breast procedures, face-lifts, abdominoplasty, liposuction, fat-grafting to breasts and buttocks for augmentation, and especially, mommy makeovers and rhinoplasty. “Plastic surgery is my passion, and I always use the latest techniques to get the best results possible,” says Dr. Ghorbani.

Pain Medicine Consultants Comprehensive Pain Medicine and Minimally Invasive Spine Care Ruben Kalra, MD; William Longton, MD; Richard Shinaman, MD Not Pictured: Jamie Coughlan, ND 100 North Wiget Lane, Suite 160, Walnut Creek (925) 287-1256, The pain specialists at PMC know that pain can greatly affect your quality of life. Their goal is to return you to the lifestyle you deserve as soon as possible. These approachable doctors, fellowship-trained at the best programs, evaluate each patient to create a personalized and integrative treatment plan. They are Northern California’s premier minimally-invasive spine specialists, pursuing a holistic approach to pain utilizing the latest advanced techniques. If you are considering back surgery, we can evaluate your candidacy for minimally-invasive techniques, as well as recommend the best spine surgeons in the area. With the introduction of Dr. Jamie Coughlan, PMC now has a licensed naturopathic doctor for patients who prefer to augment their treatment with natural medicine techniques. 6 0 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Michael J. Tomcik, MD Cosmetic and Medical Dermatology

Advanced Laser & Skin Care Center 101 Park Place, San Ramon (925) 743-1488, Dr. Tomcik, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCSF, has been providing the most advanced cosmetic and medical dermatology care to the East Bay since 1977. Experience counts! He personally performs all Botox®, fillers, SmartLipo™ Laser Liposuction, Cellulaze™ Laser Cellulite Reduction, and laser-resurfacing procedures with CO2 and erbium lasers combined in a one-time treatment to rejuvenate and refresh the skin. Also provided are IPL and 532 Laser to reduce red face veins; Ultherapy® to lift and tighten skin on neck, chin, and brow; PinPointe® FootLaser for nail fungus; micro laser peels; laser hair reduction; microdermabrasion; physician strength peels; and products, all in a warm, inviting environment. In keeping with his goal of having the best-informed patients, his initial consultations last up to one hour, with lengthy follow-up visits to address any concerns. We put the care in your skin care.

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Donald S. Parsons, MD Concierge Physician 400 El Cerro Boulevard, #102, Danville Combining 30 years as a board certified internist with over seven years’ experience as a concierge physician, Dr. Donald Parsons’ practice gives patients a personalized and responsive health care choice. His patient-limited practice offers sameday appointments, unhurried office visits, minimal waiting time, an annual comprehensive medical evaluation, and 24/7 physician availability. Via a state-of-the-art electronic medical records system and online portal, patients can easily access their most recent health care information anytime, anywhere. The dedicated office staff handles every request promptly and attentively. “As a concierge physician,” says Dr. Parsons, “I am happily practicing medicine the way it should be practiced, putting individual patient’s health care needs first.”

Mark Isaacs, MD and Deborah Francesconi, RN Phlebology and Aesthetic Enhancements

Vein Specialists of Northern California 1981 North Broadway, Suite 427, Walnut Creek (925) 945-8656 or (800) 200-VEIN (8346),, Spider veins and varicose veins can be unsightly, and can cause aching, burning, and muscle cramps. However, they can be eliminated with nonsurgical treatments—endovenous ablation for larger veins and medication injections for smaller ones. “There’s no downtime with either treatment,” says Dr. Isaacs. “It’s gratifying to see patients improve within days or weeks.” Dr. Isaacs partners with Deborah, an aesthetic nurse specialist with over 20 years of experience, who helps men and women look years younger with non-invasive cosmetic treatments for the skin. She is a frequent guest speaker for various women’s organizations. 6 2 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Robert G. Aycock, MD, FACS Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Skin Presence Laser Center and MedSpa 1855 San Miguel Drive, Suite 4, Walnut Creek (925) 272-4175 575 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, Suite 2, Greenbrae (415) 925-1700, Dr. Robert Aycock is a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who is well known for natural-looking results for those seeking enhanced beauty. He offers a full range of cosmetic surgery: face, brow and eye lifts; the Prolift (a minimally invasive neck lift); rhinoplasty; breast enhancement; abdominoplasty; liposuction; post-weight loss and post-child birth body lifts. He is an international speaker and trainer for Sciton® Laser System providing Profractional and Micro Laser Peel for skin resurfacing; BroadBand Light for sun damaged skin and anti-aging; SkinTyte™ and laser hair removal. Dr. Aycock’s Skin Presence Laser Center and MedSpa offers Botox®, Juvederm®, other injectables, and customized skin care. “We offer something for everyone seeking improvement in the way they look and feel about themselves” says Dr. Aycock.

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William Ting, MD California Dermatology Care

California Dermatology 2262 Camino Ramon, San Ramon (925) 328-0255, Dr. Ting is a board-certified dermatologist and the medical director of California Dermatology Care. In a newly renovated, 10,000-square-foot dermatology-only suite, Dr. Ting is proud to be the one-stop destination for every dermatological need, from medical to aesthetic. By using cutting-edge advanced technology, Dr. Ting provides comprehensive and minimally invasive options for facial and body rejuvenation and contouring, as well as revolutionary nonsurgical Superficial RadioTherapy for skin cancers. In addition, California Dermatology Care is a NeoGraft Center of Excellence, providing natural hair transplant results one hair follicle at a time, with no linear scar or stitches, at Hair Restoration Center by Dr. William Ting. See for info.

Barbara L. Persons, MD Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery

Persons Plastic Surgery 911 Moraga Road, Suite 205, Lafayette (925) 283-4012, (925) 283-4847 (fax) A doctor rarely has the opportunity to return to her hometown and offer her expertise to the community that fostered her passion. Dr. Barbara Persons, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, feels blessed to be able to do just that. With nine years of surgical training, Dr. Persons’ expertise is exhibited in her precise technique and the life-changing results she achieves. Persons Plastic Surgery, her clinic and surgery center in downtown Lafayette, offers patients the most modern surgical advances in a private setting. While specializing in cosmetic breast and facial surgeries, Dr. Persons also serves her community reconstructing cancer and other physically marred patients. 6 4 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Ivan P. Hwang, MD Eyelid Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 301 Lennon Lane, Suite 201, Walnut Creek (925) 932-1123 A person’s eyes are dynamic and often form the basis for a first impression. It is for this reason that Dr. Ivan Hwang focuses his practice on plastic and reconstructive surgery of the eye area. Fellowship trained in the field of eye plastic surgery, Dr. Hwang is an expert in the complex anatomy of the eyelids and offers highly specialized medical and surgi­cal treatment of a range of ocular conditions. An eye-plastic specialist for the John Muir Medical Center Trauma Team, Dr. Hwang is president of the East Bay Ophthalmology Society and former chairman of John Muir’s Department of Ophthalmology. He also teaches the specialty of eyeplastic surgery to surgeons currently in training. Dr. Hwang believes that in eye surgery, re-creating his patient’s original anatomy offers the best cosmetic and reconstructive results.

Dr. Vahid Feiz, MD Board-Certified Cornea Specialist

California Eye Clinic 301 Lennon Lane, Suite 201, Walnut Creek 111 Deerwood Road, Suite 300, San Ramon 3747 Sunset Lane, Antioch A specialist in corneal disease, cornea transplants, laser refractive surgery, and cataract surgery, Dr. Vahid Feiz spent a decade researching corneal transplants and treatments in a university setting, as an associate professor at UC Davis Medical Center. Dr. Feiz delivers patient-focused medical and surgical eye care with an ophthalmology and optometry team that provides comprehensive eye health services, from medical glaucoma, treatment of dry eyes, cataract surgery with premium intraocular lens implantation, refractive laser surgery, and cornea transplantation. “We focus on each individual patient,” Dr. Feiz says, “offering personalized treatment options and programs for his or her unique needs.” D ia blo 65



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Hieu Ball, MD Adult and Pediatric Spine Surgery

California Comprehensive Spine Institute 301 Lennon Lane, Suite 102, Walnut Creek (925) 932-9270, Dr. Hieu Ball devotes his practice to evaluating the most current treatment options for neck, mid-back, and low-back problems. His patient-centered, individualized approach to caring for patients helps him achieve accurate diagnoses and logical treatment plans that optimize the spinal health outcomes for his patients. Dr. Ball attended Punahou Academy in Hawaii, and later matriculated at Cornell for his undergraduate studies. He completed his medical training at Harvard Medical School in orthopaedic surgery. Dr. Ball then performed two fellowship years, studying pediatric and adult spine surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital and UCLA. Currently, Dr. Ball serves on the clinical faculty for minimally invasive techniques and motion-preservation surgery.

General Vascular Surgery Medical Group Vascular Surgery Robert Gingery, MD; Lamont Paxton, MD; Michael Ingegno, MD 5201 Norris Canyon Road, Suite 210, San Ramon (925) 275-0551, This distinguished group of vascular surgeons has specialized in the treatment of vascular disorders for over 36 years. They perform open surgical techniques as well as a full array of minimally invasive procedures. They also have extensive experience in vein ablation and office-based treatment for varicose and spider veins. Additional services include endovascular stent graft repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms and arterial revascularization. Their laboratories perform noninvasive vascular ultrasound in San Ramon, Alameda, and San Leandro. 6 6 O CTO B E R 2 0 1 3

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Joseph A. Mele, III, MD, FACS Board Certified 130 La Casa Via, Building 2, Suite 206, Walnut Creek (925) 943-6353 Over the last decade Joseph Mele, MD, FACS, has emerged as one of the premier cosmetic plastic surgeons in the San Francisco Bay Area. His specialties include breast augmentation, liposuction, tummy tucks, and facial rejuvenation, producing safe and predictable results with a mix of the cutting-edge and the tried-and-true. After graduating with high honors in electrical and computer engineering from UC Davis, Dr. Mele was awarded the prestigious Regents’ Scholarship to attend the UC Davis School of Medicine. He completed plastic and reconstructive surgery training in San Francisco and is board certified in both plastic surgery and general surgery. Dr. Mele is an active member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, California Society of Plastic Surgery, and International Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Darrell Christian, Ph.D.

Sherry Steinmetz DDS, FDOCS

Clinical Psychologist

Exceptional Dentistry

Lamorinda/Danville/Walnut Creek (925) 935-8646,

New Age Dentistry

Dr. Darrell Christian has been in clinical practice for 20 years treating individuals and couples. He balances attentive listening with active engagement to help you to discover solutions for a more satisfying life or marriage. In addition to office visits, Dr. Christian offers 3-hour couples therapy sessions in the privacy of your home. In your pursuit of meaningful change, contact Dr. Christian to schedule an office appointment or an extended couples session in the comfort of your own surroundings.

2301 Camino Ramon, Suite 220, San Ramon (925) 355-1133, Dr. Steinmetz offers world-class dentistry in San Ramon’s Bishop Ranch Business Park. She is recognized as a top cosmetic dentist due to her meticulous attention to detail and the exceptional, natural looking smiles she creates. She is one of an elite group of dentists who treat sleep apnea and TMJ. She is also one of only 10 dentists in California to have her fellowship in oral sedation dentistry. Dr. Steinmetz and her team use only the latest technology available to create the beautiful, healthy smile you deserve.

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Vivian Ting, MD, FACS

Yvonne Hyland, DDS

Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon

Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry

Veritas Plastic Surgery

Stone Valley Dental

(925) 939-9200,

220 Alamo Plaza, Suite E, Alamo (925) 831-8310,

A Harvard-trained plastic surgeon specializing in cosmetic surgery of the face and body, and breast reconstruction, Dr. Ting is committed to individualized patient care and responsible plastic surgery. Described by patients as a “compassionate, honest surgeon with superb skills,” Dr. Ting offers surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures for rejuvenation and age maintenance. She is a winner of the Patient’s Choice and Talk of the Town awards.

The team at Stone Valley Dental is dedicated specifically to maintaining the beauty of your smile. By focusing on personalized care and attention, and the specialized needs of each patient, Stone Valley Dental uses state-of-the-art equipment to provide a unique level of care in a comfortable and welcoming environment. With staff having years of training and experience, Stone Valley Dental looks forward to treating patients for many years to come.

Sara Denman, Psyd

Susan Willman, MD and Evan Rosenbluth, MD


Reproductive Endocrinologists

111-C Town and Country, Danville (925) 648-4941,

Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area

Through providing compassionate therapy for change, Dr. Sara Denman helps people move from merely surviving to thriving. As a licensed psychologist with expertise in anxiety, depression, life changes and challenges, eating and body image issues, as well as addictions, Dr. Denman works with her clients to exceed their expectations through quality of care and helping them reach their full potential. Clients feel comfortable as Dr. Denman uses her years of experience, technique, and training to help them reach their personal and professional goals.

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3160 Crow Canyon Road, Suite 150, San Ramon 89 Davis Road, Suite 280, Orinda (888) 277-4483, Dr. Susan Willman took her belief that all people deserve to have the opportunity to become parents and became one of the first female physicians to open a successful assisted reproductive technology practice in the East Bay in 1992. Dr. Evan Rosenbluth is world-renowned for developing biopsy-free methods for selecting healthy embryos. Dr. Willman and Dr. Rosenbluth work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans to create families based on individual needs.

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Lafayette Physical Therapy, inc.

Georgette O’Brien and Jennifer and stephanie Milne

Physical Therapy and Wellness Services

Breast Health Care and Compression

Jill Ramsey, Administrative Director; Lauren Masi, MPT, OCS, ATC, Clinic Manager; Valerie Watase, BSPT, Owner/Director 3468 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Suite B-110, Lafayette (925) 284-6150,


For over 38 years, Lafayette Physical Therapy has served the Alameda and Contra Costa County communities. Their team of highly trained professionals provides exceptionally high quality, individualized treatments to patients of all ages and physical conditions. Lafayette Physical Therapy is known for their caring staff and experience with orthopedic, sport, and function-related injuries.

This three generation team’s primary concern is the health, comfort, and confidence of women following breast cancer surgery. Recently accredited in Mastectomy Care by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Pedorthics; Marzel’s offers precision fitting of breast forms and other nonsurgical alternatives, as well as education and support. They also fit medical compression garments for men and women facing lymphatic and venous disorders; have pre-and postoperative compression wear for plastic surgery; and offer accessories for those undergoing chemotherapy.

1220 Oakland Boulevard, Suite 100, Walnut Creek, (925) 939-2450 5980 Stoneridge Drive, Suite 119, Pleasanton, (925) 227-1402

Health and Fitness Articles & Videos Paul H. Kim, MD, Medical Director Age Management Medicine

Previ Medical Group 1776 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek (925) 979-0979, (866) 264-9992 (fax), Tired of feeling tired all the time and being given more and more medicines? As the premier Age Management Medicine practice in the East Bay, Previ educates patients in understanding their aging process to increase their vitality and avoid illness. Through the use of state-ofthe-art technology, Previ strives to develop a personalized preventative plan for the client that also is designed to promote an understanding on how to achieve optimal health.

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Go mobile with Napa Sonoma magazine Now available as a tablet app and on your phone.


Real Estate Agents

Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Professional partnered with Diablo magazine to identify real estate, mortgage and insurance professionals in the San Francisco East Bay area who deliver outstanding service and client satisfaction. The Five Star Professional research team contacted thousands of recent homebuyers, as well as other consumers. Clients may also submit evaluations online. Phone, mail and online respondents rated their service professional on criteria such as overall satisfaction and whether they would recommend the provider to a friend. The research methodology allows no more than 7 percent of professionals in each category to receive the award. This year’s winners are listed and profiled in the following pages (see each award winner’s listing for more details).



Home/Auto Insurance Professionals

Professionals who satisfied each of the following objective criteria were named a 2013 San Francisco East Bay Five Star Real Estate Agent, Five Star Mortgage Professional or Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professional: 1. Received a qualifying client satisfaction rating. 2. Satisfied the applicable state licensing requirements. 3. Actively employed as a licensed professional for a minimum of three years. 4. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review. 5. Satisfied minimum client volume or production on a one-year and three-year basis (number and volume of transactions or number of client households served).

• The 2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents, Mortgage Professionals and Home/Auto Insurance Professionals do not pay a fee to be included in the research or the final list.

• Each professional is screened against state governing bodies to verify that licenses are current, and no disciplinary actions are pending. • The inclusion of a real estate agent, mortgage professional or insurance professional on the final lists should not be construed as an endorsement by Five Star Professional or Diablo magazine. • The research process incorporates a statistically valid sample in order to identify the professionals in the local market who score highest in overall satisfaction. These professionals are not included on the list unless their score is statistically valid.

The research methodology is designed to identify professionals who meet or exceed objective evaluation criteria associated with providing quality services to clients. — Alexandra Saul, Research Director, Five Star Professional

For more information on the Five Star award and the research/ selection methodology, go to — FS 1

2013 Five Star Home Professionals


2013 San Francisco East Bay Five Star Home Professionals


2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents Five Star Professional surveyed San Francisco East Bay area residents who purchased a home priced at more than $150,000 within an 8-month period (July 2012 to March 2013). The final list of 2013 San Francisco East Bay Five Star Real Estate Agents is a select group, representing less than 2% of real estate agents in the area. Evaluations were collected by mail, phone and online at

All award winners are sorted by city and listed alphabetically by last name.

All Areas Terry Abts · Pacific Union International Real Estate Lodivina Alvarez · Legacy Real Estate & Associates

Linda Cookson · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7 Janette Corby · Alain Pinel Realty

Deborah Gordon · Coldwell Banker Carol Gradin · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Marianne Greene · Village Associates Real Estate

Robert Crosby · Crosby & Associates Realty Cathy Cross · Prudential California Realty

Cathleen Griebling · Coldwell Banker Guidance Realty Page 12

Sheila Cunha · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Margarida Guerra · Coldwell Banker

Michael Awadalla · Keller Williams Realty

Michele DeMartini · Keller Williams Realty Page 8 & 9

Carolyn Gwynn · Empire Realty

Bruce Baldwin · Crow Canyon Realtors

Kelly DeYoreo · Prudential California Realty

Ron Baniqued · Baniqued Realtors

Lynda Dimond · Keller Williams Realty

Brett Barnes · Dudum Real Estate Group

Aida Dizon · Realty World Viking

Emily Barraclough · Alain Pinel Realty

Nancy D’Onofrio · RE/MAX Blue Line

Ed Basaldua · Park One Properties

George Duarte · Elite Real Estate Properties/Horizon Financial Associates

Steve Andre · Legacy Real Estate

Page 13

Sue Arendt · Red Oak Realty Amin Arikat · Keller Williams

Page 8 & 9

Wendy Baumann · The Baumann Group

Julie Dudum-DelSanto · Dudum Real Estate Group

Lourdes Beaty · RE/MAX Accord Jaynelle Bell · Watermark Properties

Page 11

Ju Dee Bell · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Les Belliveau · Coldwell Banker Gina Bentley · Windermere Real Estate Frank Bermudez · Better Homes & Gardens

Lon Bruce · East Bay Sotheby’s International Realty

Pat Burgess · Empire Realty Associates

Page 6 & 7

Chris Callahan · J. Rockcliff, Realtors/McDaniel Callahan Team Brij Chandok · Classic Realty & Mortgage Percy Cheung · Smart Choice Realty Thomy Clements · The Village Real Estate Company Carole Cline · J. Rockcliff, Realtors A.J. Cohen · Alain Pinel Realty Jim Colhoun · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Real Estate Patti Compton · Rossmoor Realty Frank Cookson · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7

Tyler Hargan · Branagh Realty Alan Harp · Kropa Realty Leia Hartje · Keller Williams Realty Pat Herrera · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Lawrence Hertz · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7

Christina Durflinger · Realty World

Jeanie Hess · Empire Realty

Jim Ellis · Coldwell Banker Orinda

Joanna Hirsch · The Grubb Company

Maria Elola · Better Homes & Gardens Realty

Francoise Hoang · Keller Williams Benchmark Properties

Page 6 & 7

Lori Fernald · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Lisa Ferraris · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Douglas Buenz · Alain Pinel Realty

Rachael Hand · Coldwell Banker

Marilyn Hertz · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7

Joan Evans · Village Associates

Page 10

Carlos Hague · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Trang Dunlap · Intero Real Estate Services

Everett Eslinger · Coldwell Banker

Rick Booth · Coldwell Banker

FS 2 —

Mary Jane Dukellis · Dukellis Real Estate

Elizabeth Enea · Empire Realty

Gary Bernie · Pacific Union

Ken Broz · Clocktower Realty

Page 8 & 9

Page 6 & 7

Terrylynn Fisher · Dudum Real Estate Group Lana Fitzpatrick · Coldwell Banker Melissa Fulop · Empire Reatly Associates Page 6 & 7

Page 6 & 7

Manjit Hundle · Better Homes & Gardens Tia Hunnicutt · ZipRealty Jo Hunter · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty Tony Huszar · Prudential California Realty Yvonne Jakovleski · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Lisa Jakub · Pacific Union Stephany Jenkins · Keller Williams Realty Ericka Jennings · Green Key Real Estate

Kimberly Galindo · O’Brien Real Estate

Kerry Joseph · Joseph Real Estate

Ron Gatti · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Faisal Kakar · RE/MAX Blue Line

Christine Geddes-Sinclaire · RE/MAX C.C. Connection Page 12

Lucia Kang · ZipRealty

Julie Georgiou · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Debbie Gibbs · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Catherine Kaufer · Redeemer Solutions Realty Patsy Kauffman · People & Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Mira Goetsch · RE/MAX Accord

Michele Keck · Prudential California Realty Page 13

Nancy Gonzales · Keller Williams Realty East County

Nick Khelawan · Prime Properties of California


All award winners are sorted by city and listed alphabetically by last name. Ken Kho · Legacy Real Estate & Associates

Laura Nguyen · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Realty

Carolyn Thelemaque · Tucker Associates Real Estate Services

Kim Kokes · Prudential Realty

Ann Marie Nugent · Pacific Union Christies International Real Estate

Pete Torrey · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Kenneth Korba · World Premier Realty

Chris O’Brien · O’Brien Real Estate

Tannis Kristjanson · Prudential California Realty

Lee Ann O’Brien · Coldwell Banker

Peter Laurence · RE/MAX C.C. Connection

Lori Ogorchock · Keller Williams Realty

Sandee Utterback · Prudential California Realty Page 13

Adora Lazaro · Better Homes & Gardens Realty Page 13

Kimberly Ott · Alain Pinel Realty

Anne Vandyke · The Grubb Company

Keith Parrett · Realty World

Bryan VanHeusen · Legacy Real Estate

Paulette Parsons · Prudential Realty

Kurt Waag · ZipRealty

Waly Parvanta · RE/MAX Blue Line

Jim Walberg · Pacific Union Christies International Real Estate

Lorena King · LMK Real Estate & Mortgage Service

Patrick Leaper · Red Oak Realty Gillian Leaper-Leslie · Red Oak Realty Elizabeth Lee · People & Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Kelly Patterson · Keller Williams Realty

Louie Lelaurin · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Andrew Pitarre · Green Key Real Estate

Weiyu Liao · CENTURY 21

Greg Pope · Sotheby’s International Realty

Norma Liddy · Empire Realty Associates

Ron Pratt · RE/MAX Accord

Kimberly Linn · Prudential California Realty

Nancy Raffo · Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Suzanne Looker · Pacific Union Real Estate

Deb Rebhahn · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7

Sherese Lopez · Keller Williams East Bay Page 8 & 9 Karen Lum · Coldwell Banker Jason David Maddox · Maddox Real Estate Kimberly Markison · Red Oak Realty Sally Martin · Alain Pinel Realty Brian McCarthy · Windermere Diablo Realty Sheron McCormick · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Timothy McGuire · Alain Pinel Realty Rosemarie Meddaugh · Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Margaret Redemer · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7 Joe Reichert · Keller Williams

Page 8 & 9

Christine Rosi · Intero Real Estate Services Franz Ross · ZipRealty

Elizabeth Rush · McGuire Real Estate

Sonali Sethna · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty

Pamela Hale Mitchell · Windermere Diablo Realty

Jeff Snell · Village Associates

Steve Mohseni · RE/MAX Accord

Griselda Soto · Community Realty Property & Investment Page 12

Richard Morrison · Marvin Gardens Real Estate Kimberly Morucci · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Simon Motley · Pacific Union Patrick Nagel · Wells & Bennett Realtors Vicki Nakamura · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7 Armando Navas · Sequoia Realty Duane Newberry · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Helen Whiteman · Alain Pinel Realty Pamela Wojciechowski · Coldwell Banker Debbie Wright · David Deutscher Company Inge Yarborough · Windermere Real Estate Paul Zuvella · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Brenda Zwahlen · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Antioch Clayton Bowers · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Real Estate

Rick Fuller · Rick Fuller Realty Jaime Gonzalez · Signature Collection Real Estate Eduvi Jewell · Coldwell Banker Guidance Realty

Fred Scheberies · Prudential

Jeff Mann · Better Homes & Gardens Realty Diana McGee · RE/MAX Blue Line Wendy Shearer · Rick Fuller Realty

Raelene Sprague · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7 Tom Stack · Coldwell Banker

Deborah White · Wuestenberg & Associates

G. Larry Charvoz · Better Homes & Gardens Realty

Melody Royal · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Real Estate

Donna Shealor · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Wendy Moore · Alain Pinel Realty

Alex Tse · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Juan Banuelos · Rick Fuller Realty

John Rocha · RE/MAX

Sharen Metz · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Murline Monat · Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

Pat Trager · Coldwell Banker

Page 13

Tim Steffen · Better Homes & Gardens Realty Charles Stellini · Pacific Union Lisa Sterling · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty Julie Sullivan · Empire Realty Associates Judy Swaby · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Ryan Taylor · Better Homes & Gardens

Alameda Monica Betancur · Keller Williams Realty Page 8 & 9 Jose Cerda-Zein · Cerda-Zein Real Estate Anne DeBardeleben · Harbor Bay Realty

Page 13

Karen Miller · Alain Pinel Realty Maureen Shandobil · Harbor Bay Realty

Alamo George Bassett · Executive Brokers Gene Ho · Better Homes & Gardens Realty Lauren Holloway · Sotheby’s International Realty — FS 3

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents All award winners are sorted by city and listed alphabetically by last name. Celeste Pacelli · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7 Dawn Smallwood · Pacific Union International


Joe Frazzano · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Robin Leineke · Equitera

Tracey Harper · J. Rockcliff, Realtors


Michelle Hensley · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Heidi Abramson · Northbrae Properties

Coco Lewis · Legacy Real Estate & Associates

Tom Kortizija · Pacific Union International Page 13

Cordula Didier · Marvin Gardens Real Estate Norman Gee · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Real Estate

Bonnie Kummell · Coldwell Banker Danville

Patrick Lane · RE/MAX Accord

Bill Grimason · Marvin Gardens Real Estate

Ryan Lema · Prudential Realty

Mark Hardwicke · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie

Julie Long · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Laura Martell · Daniel Winkler & Associates

Steve Maurer · Keller Williams Realty

Deborah Rossetto · Legacy Real Estate & Associates Sunil Sethi · Sunil Sethi Real Estate Page 8 & 9

Gloria Zacarias · Coldwell Banker

Bette Sue Schack · Pacific Union Christies Great Estates Realty Page 12

Dan Suich · Daniel Winkler & Associates Brett Weinstein · Realty Advocates

Jack Schlendorf · Pacific Union Christies International Real Estate

Eric Wong · Daniel Winkler & Associates

Helen Schmidt · People & Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Blackhawk Susan Bazinett · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Kay Sherwood · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7

Brentwood Page 13

Michele Rodgers · Marples & Associates Joy Scholtz · Real Estate Results Sandy Thom · JDK & Associates

Castro Valley Craig Ragg · Craig Ragg Real Estate

Vijay Sher · Timothy Crofton Real Estate Suma Sridhar · Legacy Real Estate & Associates

Ann Richards · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Holly Rose · Marvin Gardens Real Estate

Carl Medford · Prudential California Realty

Sandi Ohms · Bay Area Homes

Keri O’Reilly · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Tracy McBride · Marvin Gardens Real Estate

Anthony Marinelli · Marinelli Real Estate

Robert Miller · Excel Realty & Mortgage

Meredith Kummell · Coldwell Banker

Lee Goodwin · Red Oak Realty

Jamie Connors · JDK & Associates Realty

Kay Korbel · RE Realty Experts

Judy-Lynn Kiersey · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Hayward Gloria Lee · Toll Brothers Harish Ram · EXIT Advanced Realty

Hercules Bo Falcon · Coldwell Banker


Cynthia Silva · People & Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Lisa Brydon · Alain Pinel Realty

Norman Stanley · People & Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Julie McCoy · RE/MAX Accord

Dana Green · Pacific Union International

Nicole Tucker · Tucker Associates Real Estate Services

Lynn Oakes · RE/MAX Accord

Julie Whitmer · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Jane Smith · Dudum Real Estate Group

Page 13

Chris Swim · The Chris Swim Group


David Wilhite · Intero Real Estate Services

Marilee Headen · Empire Realty Associates Page 6 & 7



Discovery Bay

Brett Caires · BoaVentura Real Estate Sevices

Michelle Gittleman · Windermere Real Estate

Donald Farrow · Marples & Associates

Mary Chakakis-Evans · Coldwell Banker

Stephanie Lopez · Coldwell Banker

Mark Skilling · Accurate Signature Properties

Tom Chance · Prudential California Realty



Michael D’Onofrio · Better Homes & Gardens

Jean DeGuzman · The Legacy Realty

David Dufresne · Solutions4RealEstate

Marina Guevorkian · RE/MAX Accord

Larry Schafer · CENTURY 21 M&M and Associates

Manel Sousou · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Mark Kotch · Alain Pinel Realty

Harry Stevens · Tucker Associates Real Estate Services

Danville Laura Barbara · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Pam Berce · RE/MAX Accord Jeffrey Bruno · Pacific Union International

FS 4 —

Ivy LoGerfo · RE/MAX Accord

El Cerrito Dan Joy · Pacific Union

Debi Bodan · Alain Pinel Realty

Diane Sass · RE/MAX Accord

Page 13

Gerarda Stocking · Stocking Realty

Emeryville Jason Crouch · All East Bay Properties

Natalie Swanson · Prudential California Realty Page 13

Carla Winter · RE/MAX

Page 10


All award winners are sorted by city and listed alphabetically by last name.



Rama Mehra · Keller Williams Realty

Yasumi Davis · Help-U-Sell Golden Homes

Lynda Bartels · Coldwell Banker Bartels, Realtors

Walnut Creek

Maureen Ingalls · RE/MAX Accord

Carl Schober · Old Time, Realtors

Terry Baldwin · ZipRealty


Cindy Wilson · La Maison Real Estate

Loc Barnes · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

Ken Ryerson · Pacific Union


Nancy Bennett · Keller Williams Realty

Jay Williams · Pacific Union

Guia Decker · RE/MAX C.C. Connection

Tawny Burns · Dudum Real Estate Group


Pleasant Hill

Jill Cherne · Cavalier Real Estate Services

Stephen Bloom · Lawton Associates

Nathan Hitchcock · Hitchcock Realty

Eugene Boomer · The Grubb Company


Hope Broderick · The Grubb Company

Gail Boal · Keller Williams

Jackie Care · Pacific Union

Page 8 & 9

Page 8 & 9

Mary Collins · RE/MAX C.C. Connection

Page 12

Ronda Collmer · Keller Williams Patti Gage · Coldwell Banker Marc Graves · Courtyard Realty

Page 11

Teri Carlisle · Pacific Union

Dorothy Broderson · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty Page 12

David Gluck · Marcus Realty

Karla Brown · Prudential Califronia Realty

Veronica Hidalgo · Dudum Real Estate Group

Barbara Hardacre · Pacific Union International Real Estate

Greg Francis · Millennium Realty

Ken Jacobs · Clocktower Realty

Joyce Jones · Alain Pinel Realty

David Kelly · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Annette Junell · Keller Williams Realty

Holly Kersis · Empire Realty Associates

Peter McDowell · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Kevin Kieffer · Keller Williams Realty

Kevin Wilson · Home One Realty

Katherine Moe · Better Homes & Gardens Tri-Valley Realty

Melanie Kozak · Alain Pinel Realty


Kris Moxley · Alain Pinel Realty

Margaret Hurtado · Prudential California Realty

Gina Piper · Better Homes & Gardens Tri-Valley Realty


Sheri Platter · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty

Pamela Oettel · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Farrah Wilder · Pacific Union

Susan Schall · Keller Williams Tri-Valley Realty

Andi Peterson Brown · Coldwell Banker

Diane Smugeresky · Alain Pinel Realty

Linda Friedman · Village Associates

Nancy Sutorius · Coldwell Banker

Kristi Ives · Alain Pinel Realty

D.C. Wei · RE/MAX Accord

Margot Kaufman · Pacific Union

Phyllis Weiner · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Shellie Kirby · Coldwell Banker

George Gross · Windermere Diablo Realty

Page 10

Page 6 & 7 Page 8 & 9

Katya Lobastova · Better Homes & Gardens MasonMcDuffie Vito LoGrasso · Better Homes & Gardens-Mason McDuffie Page 13 Lisa Lombardi · Coldwell Banker Peggy Martinez · Rossmoor Realty Judy Masters · Vantage Point Real Estate Kelly McCormick · J. Rockcliff, Realtors Leslie Mills · Coldwell Banker Joan Pancoast · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Benjamin Olsen · Village Associates


Antonia Quanstrom · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Patrice Petersen-Sandstrom · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Ann Cantrell · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

John Silvester · Windermere Lynne French & Associates

Karen Richardson · Alain Pinel Realty

Tom Donovan · Rossmoor Realty

Joshua Simkin-England · J. Rockcliff, Realtors

Lisa Shaffer · Better Homes & Gardens Mason-McDuffie Real Estate

Elizabeth Haslam · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

Debra Smith · Coldwell Banker

Marilyn VanStory · Rossmoor Realty

Stephanie Sposito · Coldwell Banker

Lori Young · Rossmoor Realty

John VanderMeulen · RE/MAX C.C. Connection

San Ramon

Kathy Vendel · Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate

Carolyn Davidson · Coldwell Banker

Renee White · Keller Williams Realty

Cindi Hagley · Prudential California Realty/The Hagley Group

Dayna Wilson · Keller Williams

Ann Sharf · Village Associates

Piedmont Haideh Chew · Better Homes & Gardens Highland Partners Angela Grubb · The Grubb Company

Page 12

Matt Heafey · The Grubb Company Tom Nemeth · Pacific Union International Bruce Wagg · Hihgland Partners

Page 8 & 9

Stacy Hale · RE/MAX Accord Camille Harrison · Golden Hills Brokers — FS 5

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


Empire Realty Associates Two-year winner Melissa Fulop Phone: (925) 788-4178

Danville, CA 94526 • Walnut Creek, CA 94596

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BRE 01221811

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2013 winner Carolyn Gwynn

Phone: (925) 683-3509

Cell: (925) 336-7525

BRE 01827636

BRE 01888136

Thank you to my clients for the honor of helping them make their dreams a reality!

I have such gratitude for my clients! Thank you for your trust and referrals.

Two-year winners Linda and Frank Cookson

2013 winner Marilee Headen

Phone: (925) 963-2588

Direct: (925) 217-5089 Cell: (925) 964-0860

Linda BRE 00978802, Frank BRE 01330087

BRE 00616127

We are passionately committed to the care of our clients … thank you for the recognition.

Thank you to all my clients for entrusting me with your dreams.

2013 winner Elizabeth Enea

Two-year winner Larry Hertz and 2013 winner Marilyn Hertz

Phone: (925) 200-2471

Phone: (925) 330-74160

BRE 01053970 Opening doors for you, one home at a time …

FS 6 —

I am grateful to my amazing clients for honoring me again with this award. Thank you!

2013 winner Pat Burgess

Larry BRE 01055519, Marilyn BRE 00950208 Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents

A referral is sending someone you care about to someone you trust … thank you for your trust.


(925) 217-5082

BRE 0087392

BRE 01259449

Thank you to our clients. Providing you the highest level of professionalism.

Delivering experience and service beyond expectations, every time.

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Two-year winner Deb Rebhahn

Phone: (925) 984-5254

2013 winner Holly Kersis

Integrity. Professionalism. Results!

Phone: (925) 381-9503

2013 winner Margaret Redemer and Michael Redemer

Margaret: (925) 389-1380

BRE 01185730

Specializing in selling Walnut Creek real estate quickly and for the highest price possible.

Margaret BRE 01383964

2013 winner Vicki Nakamura

2013 winner Kay Sherwood

Cell: (925) 708-1915

Phone: (925) 217-5063

BRE 00685265

BRE 01156784

Proud to offer more than three decades of trusted, innovative, customized real estate solutions.

Successfully connecting buyers and sellers for more than 20 years.

2013 winner Celeste Pacelli

Two-year winner Raelene Sprague

Cell: (925) 395-1311 Direct: (925) 820-8800

Phone: (925) 217-5020

We are appreciative of the wonderful feedback. Thank you for helping Margaret to become a Five Star Professional.

BRE 00577360

BRE 01862387 I am honored and grateful for my clients’ vote of confidence! Your feedback is treasured and I thank you!

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Two-year winner Jeanie Hess

“Cottages to Castles — Making Dreams a Reality.” These are not just words but my practice! — FS 7

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


Keller Williams Realty 2013 Five Star Professional Award Winners 2013 winner Monica Betancur

Two-year winner Rama Mehra

Realtor, CDPE, HAFA Certified

Cell: (925) 698-1815 Direct: (925) 415-0835

Direct: (510) 685-1456 Office: (925) 855-8333 Monica has built a reputable referral-based business serving Alameda and Contra Costa county clients since 2005. She is passionate about real estate as well as providing fantastic service to both buyers and sellers. Her energy, enthusiasm and dedication towards helping clients successfully meet their goals are sure to shine through.

Rama specializes in niche markets in San Ramon, Dublin and Danville with a special focus on short sales. For homebuyers, Rama is a guide in their purchase. Her established credibility with local Realtors has helped her buyers find homes in difficult market conditions. Rama was the top-producing Realtor for KW Danville and the northern California/Hawaii region for 2012. Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

BRE 01493871

BRE 01463395

2013 winner Amin Arikat

2013 winner Steve Maurer


Phone: (925) 381-8629

Direct: (415) 990-2646 Fax: (925) 309-2100

Consistently ranked in the top five percent of agents in Contra Costa and Alameda counties and specializing in the 680 corridor, Steve is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College and a longtime East Bay resident.

BRE 01479710

BRE 01250135

The best part of what I do is the people I meet. In business, as in life, lasting impressions come from the personal relationships we build. I help people reach their real estate goals while being a trusted voice, working smart and being tenacious in pursuit of their best interests. I treat my clients as I would want to be treated.

Steve knows the market well and is ready to assist with all of your real estate needs.

2013 winner Joe Reichert

Two-year winner Kevin Kieffer

Phone: (925) 323-5051

Broker Associate

Phone: (925) 300-8000

BRE 01828658

KW Danville Top-Listing Agent 2009, 2010 and 2012. More than 200 transactions closed in last five years. Please call for a free market analysis of your home or for a list of properties available in your area. References and reviews available upon request.

FS 8 —

BRE 01330888

Kevin R. Kieffer is a Broker Associate with Keller Williams and leads the East Bay Pro Team which consists of six Realtors who serve various communities throughout the East Bay residential market. With more than 450 closed transactions, his team is one of the top-producing teams in the East Bay. His motto: “Let Us Exceed Your Expectations.” Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


Two-year winner Dayna Wilson

2013 winner Nancy Bennett

Phone: (925) 788-6582


Phone: (925) 606-8400

BRE 01781285

Serving boomers, zoomers and savvy seniors in Walnut Creek and beyond … Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

I am honored to have received the Five Star Real Estate Agent award for yet another year thanks to my wonderful clients. I so appreciate your trust and your business! I do the majority of my business by referral and gratefully appreciate your recommendations.

Nancy is honored to be selected for this award! The power of five: Five Star award winner; f ive a ge nts f o r the pr i ce o f one; f i ve homeowners choose Nancy to sell their homes every month. Nancy has more than 25 years of combined sales and marketing expertise. Nancy is on the Agent Leadership Council and a mentor and faculty member.

2013 winner Lynda Dimond

2013 winner Sherese Lopez

Phone: (925) 787 959

Phone: (925) 765-3855

BRE 01294661

BRE 01023535

Lynda Dimond has been a full-time Realtor since 1989. She is often remembered by her slogan “real estate is my cup of tea.” Lynda has ser ved on many committees and mentored numerous agents. She has received several honors from her peers over the years but values the referrals from her clients more than anything.

Sherese Lopez is known for her positive spirit and “can-do” attitude. With 13 years in the business, Sherese can help guide you through the unknowns of the housing market and find the perfect home for your family.

Two-year winner Michele DeMartini

Zackry Cooper

Phone: (925) 890-1487

Phone: (925) 648-5244 BRE 01870859

Commerce Mortgage NMLS 285975

“Extremely professional, patient, flexible and knowledgeable” are words that Michele’s clients have used to describe her. Her attention to detail, tough negotiation skills and exceptional customer service are exactly what you need if you are ready to buy or sell in today’s market! “Michele puts her clients first and fights for them as top priority!” Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

BRE 01399870

Zackry Cooper and Commerce Mortgage congratulate the Five Star Real Estate Agents at Keller Williams on their accomplishment! It is our honor to serve you and your clients in this competitive marketplace. If you are a buyer actively searching for your next home, please, call us and ask about our Buyer’s Advantage Program — (925) 648-5249.

760 Camino Ramon, Suite 200 • Danville, CA 94506 100 Pringle Avenue, Suite 100 • Walnut Creek, CA 94596 — FS 9

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


Dana H. Green Award-Winning Realtor • Market leader since 2008 • Honed pricing and negotiating skills • Complimentary, trend-setting staging • Cutting-edge marketing • Winning results for five straight years (Trendgraphix) 2013 winner Dana Green

In 2012, Dana closed twice as many Lafayette residential real estate transactions as any other Realtor (Trendgraphix), thanks to a growing base of satisfied clients who continue to return for help with new transactions. Clients refer Dana to friends because of the results she delivers; Lafayette homesellers receive top-dollar prices for their homes and homebuyers move into homes they love — even in competitive, multiple-offer market conditions. All the while, Dana navigates the real estate transactions to close with superior customer service and minimal homeowner stress.

Pacific Union 201 Lafayette Circle, Suite 100 Lafayette, CA 94549 Phone: (925) 339-1918

BRE 01482454

Ken Jacobs and Ken Broz Professionalism and Experience • Walnut Creek area residents and experts • Putting our clients first • Responsive and thorough Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents

• Marketing expertise • Investment and property management

Left to right: Two-year winners Ken Broz, Broker, GRI and Ken Jacobs, Broker, CRS, GRI, ASP

We started Clocktower Realty in 2005 with a simple purpose — to create a different perspective on real estate sales. One where the client never questions that the advice they’re being given is to serve their best interests, regardless if it ends in a sale or not. When working with either Ken Jacobs or Ken Broz, you can expect a broker that listens and understands your unique situation whether you’re a first-time buyer, investor or experienced homeseller. We strive to keep informed of changing market conditions at all times so as to provide our clients with the best information to make informed decisions.

Walnut Creek, CA 94597 Ken Jacobs: (925) 280-1260 Ken Broz: (925) 465-5181 Ken Jacobs BRE 01242343, Ken Broz BRE 01359600

FS 10 —


Jaynelle Bell

Marc Graves

Watermark Properties 3150 Hilltop Mail Rd., Ste. 93 Richmond, CA 94806 Office: (510) 296-4876 Cell: (510) 206-7144

Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r BRE 01421746

Top Service and Top Results for You! • • • • •

Accomplishes clients’ real estate objectives Thorough market and financing knowledge 90% of listings in contract in under 30 days 70% of buyers in contract in under 45 days More than 400 successful transactions since 2004

“Jaynelle Bell is a sheer joy to work with. She absolutely loves what she is doing and it comes through in every aspect of her work. She is the ultimate professional and goes above and beyond to make sure that you receive excellent service. She thoroughly explains everything that you are signing to you and gives you the full benefit of her knowledge and expertise.“ — Patricia Lopez

P.O. Box 31495 Walnut Creek, CA 94598 Office: (925) 478-8383 Cell: (925) 336-MARC (6272) Marc@CourtyardRealty.Biz BRE 01020265

Exceeding Expectations Since 1988 • • • • •

95% of my business is repeat clients or referrals Vision, energy and the drive to get it done Professional photography and staging included Expert prelisting renovation project management Skilled negotiation and creative problem solving

“Marc is an extraordinary Realtor who has so much to offer above and beyond the usual. Not only has he put together an incredible team of home improvement pros, but he has a clear vision of the possibilities and a broad range of knowledge and expertise in the areas needed to highlight and elicit the beauty of a home. Marc is a full-service broker — he took care of everything, making it a seamless process!” — Mike Conley Visit www.CourtyardRealty.Biz for more information.

Top five questions that real estate agents want you to answer: 1. What are your goals? 2. What price range are you comfortable with? 3. Are you pre-qualified? 4. What is your timeframe? 5. If we find the right property, are you prepared to purchase it today? From research conducted by Five Star Professional, April 2011 — FS 11

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


Christine Geddes-Sinclaire

Dorothy Broderson

Mary Collins

5994 W Las Positas, Ste. 101 Pleasanton, CA 94588 Cell: (925) 963-8800 Office: (925) 426-3862

2950 Buskirk Ave., Ste. 140 Walnut Creek, CA 94597 Phone: (925) 787-3786

BRE 01779623

BRE 01713576

Many thanks to my clients for recognizing me for this honor once again. I offer superior representation, innovative marketing techniques and expert negotiation. My passion and commitment is helping buyers, sellers, investors and seniors achieve all of their real estate dreams and goals. Call me today so I can help you achieve yours! Dorothy Broderson, Realtor SRES, QSC, Notary.

As an agent who emphasizes strong customer service and communication, I am extremely grateful to be recognized as a Five Star Real Estate Agent. Assisting my clients to find the perfect home to suit their needs is my No. 1 priority. My local market knowledge guides my clients on pricing, presentation and negotiation and takes the stress out of the process.

Cathleen Griebling

Angela Wei Grubb

Bette Sue Schack

4851 Lone Tree Way, Ste. B Antioch, CA 94531 Cell: (925) 437-4494 Phone: (925) 776-1100

1960 Mountain Blvd. Oakland, CA 94611 Phone: (510) 339-0400 Cell: (510) 912-5205

Danville, CA 94526 Cell: (925) 784-0429 Office: (925) 678-4849

Meet Delta Association of Realtors 2012 Realtor of the Year! Her commitment to honesty, integrity, superior client service and knowledge of market conditions set her apart. She brings an “edge” to her clients’ aspirations of homeownership and is a great resource for services after the close of escrow.

BRE 00679667

For more than 30 years, Angela has been a successful Realtor in the East Bay. Her excellent listening skills allow her to quickly access her clients’ needs. Matching buyers with properties becomes an easy process due to her local marketplace knowledge. Sellers appreciate her attention to detail.

“Your Realtor with character.” Griselda Soto Community Realty & Investment 1032 E 14th St. San Leandro, CA 94577 Phone: (925) 922-3279 Fax: (888) 959-3431

“Your heart has to be in the right place — you have to genuinely desire to make a difference in your clients’ lives.”

BRE 01881538

For me, real estate is about helping people make their dreams come true, since 2004, I’ve successfully focused on bringing buyers and sellers together with emphasis on completing the transaction for all concerned as smoothly as possible. I want to extend a sincere thank you all of my loyal clients for their referrals and also for honoring me with this Five Star award.

FS 12 —

— Five Star award winner

2950 Buskirk Ave., Ste. 140 Walnut Creek, CA 94597 Cell: (925) 286-7593 Office: (925) 937-0100 BRE 01425653

Many thanks to my wonderful clients, friends and colleagues who made this honor possible for me. I appreciate your trust, support and referrals! I have built a reputation of providing superior service with trustworthy advice and always exceeding my clients’ expectations. Whether buying or selling you can count on me to be there every step of the way. Call me today — I am here to help!

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BRE 01381545

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2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents

BRE 00973574

Bette Sue works tirelessly with buyers to find the “perfect home” for them. With sellers, she provides staging for their homes, a professional photographer for pictures for flyers, multiple listing and advertising. Bette Sue thinks the best part of real estate is the great people you get to work with … who become your friends. Her satisfied clients continue to use her and refer their friends.


(510) 552-5572 “Proven Results”

BRE 01371685

Tom Kortizija Pacific Union

(925) 480-7080 Tw W o-Y in ea ne r r

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Steve Andre Legacy Real Estate & Associates

Jamie A. Connors JDK & Associates Realty

Hard Name to Spell, Harder to Forget BRE 01397091

Adora Lazaro Better Homes & Gardens Bahay Co.

(925) 956-9654 For All of Your Real Estate Needs

(925) 457-0954 Experience, Knowledge, Results BRE 01884281

BRE 01741579

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Jason Crouch All East Bay Properties

Vito LoGrasso Better Homes & Gardens

(510) 450-3807 Emeryville’s Housing Resource

(925) 360-9143 Helping You Reach Your Goals Faster!

BRE 01295378

BRE 01861100

Lynn Oakes RE/MAX Accord

(510) 407-0175 Making You the Priority! BRE 01389514

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Anne DeBardeleben Harbor Bay Realty

BRE 00859669

Tom Stack Coldwell Banker

(510) 414-4699 Exceeding Client Expectations BRE 01296161

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Dan Joy Pacific Union

Sales Manager, Lafayette Office (925) 878-9617 The RE/MAX Collection of Fine Homes

Michèle Keck Prudential California Realty

(925) 586-4833 Professional and Experienced Service

(925) 878-9964 Striking a Chord in Our Community BRE 01501769

Sandee Utterback Prudential Realty

(925) 487-0524 Specializing in the Valley’s Finest Homes

BRE 01404339

BRE 00855150

Don’t try to be all things to all people. Stick to what you know best. — Five Star award winner — FS 13

2013 Five Star Real Estate Agents

Five Star Real Estate Agents


2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals Five Star Professional surveyed more than 19,500 San Francisco East Bay homeowners. The final list of 2013 San Francisco East Bay Five Star Mortgage Professionals is a select group, representing less than 2% of mortgage professionals in the area. Evaluations were collected by mail, phone and online at

All award winners are listed alphabetically by last name. Corinne Andrews · Landmark Mortgage Group

Zach Griffin · LaSalle Financial

Jim Muglie · Preferred Financial

Marty Appel · Security 1 Lending

Elizabeth Haddad · Cal Coast Financial Corporation

Kelle Murphy · Envoy Mortgage

Tom Balk · Mortgage California

Marilyn Hamilton · RPM Mortgage

Afsana Naimyar · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Teri Banholzer · Mason-McDuffie Mortgage

Susannah Harte · W.J. Bradley Mortgage Capital

Kenneth Neate · RPM Mortgage

Debbie Boban · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Yvonne Hemmingsen · Diversified Capital

Nathan Nelson · Fremont Bank

Jason Brown · Stonecastle Land & Home Financial

Yvonne Herbeck · Landmark Mortgage Group

John Pallavicini · United Lending Partners

Jerry Brummett · Standard Pacific

Micaelanne Hogarty · Provident Bank Mortgage Page 17

Jonathan Pass · RPM Mortgage

Jodee Brydges · RPM Mortgage

Ryan Holford · CMG Financial

Troy Cannon · RPM Mortgage

Page 15

Kevin Peltz · Envoy Mortgage Lynda Plummer · Mortgage Market

Susan Carlson · RPM Mortgage

John Holmgren · Holmgren & Associates/American Pacific Mortgage

Ricky Chan · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Steven Iversen · CU Homeland

Patty Quinlan · Fidelity National Title

Happy Chang · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Olivia Kearns · Private Mortgage Advisors

Brian Reeg · Prospect Mortgage

Richard Clemens · Wells Fargo

Lisa Kidd · RPM Mortgage

Alma Robles · Wells Fargo

Karen Creagmile · Mason-McDuffie Mortgage

Scott King · RPM Mortgage

Dianne Crosby · RPM Orinda

Sam Krueger · RPM Mortgage

Page 18

Jon Daco · Sonoma Bank Page 15

Stephen Seidler · Prospect Mortgage Patti Shaner · Prospect Mortgage

Page 18

Kellee Larsen · RPM Mortgage

Quoc Do · EverBank

Eric Rotner · Commerce Mortgage

Page 19

Jim Larsen · RPM Mortgage

David DiVecchio · CMG Financial

Joe Polizzi · RPM Mortgage

Page 18

Charity Shehtanian · Cal Coast Financial Corporation

Paul Laterza · Mortgage California

Lori Smith · Opes Advisors

James Leabeater · Envoy Mortgage

Jeffrey Sokol · RPM Mortgage

David Dufresne · Solutions4RealEstate

Lisa Lilley · Bank of America

Casey Sullivan · Summit Funding

Barbara Duterte · Mortgage Market

Jill Lyons · CMG Financial

Scott Eaton · Landmark Mortgage Group

Barbara Macintyre · Summit Funding

Wendy Tannenbaum · Diversified Mortgage Group

Clint Madison · Envoy Mortgage

Mike Trejo · Bridgepoint Funding

Scott Doruff · RPM Mortgage

Page 19

Martha Miller Echols · Security 1 Lending Darlene Espinoza · RPM Mortgage

Page 18

Page 18

Sergio Szyrko · iServe Residential Lending

Page 15

Marianne Mahoney · Opes Advisors

Page 17

Nanette Voluntine · Princeton Capital

Kelly Franco · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

Hunter Marckwardt · RPM Mortgage

Jay Voorhees · JVM Lending

Staci Fraser · Wells Fargo

Kristine Marr · RPM Mortgage

Debra Westlund · Summit Funding

Trevor Frey · Pacific Funding Group

Julie Martinez · Preferred Financial

Stephen Williams · Diablo View Realtors

Ron Meissner · Cherry Creek Mortgage

Jim Wilson · Preferred Mortgage Group

John Glynn · LaSalle Financial

Ann Miller · Stonecastle Land & Home Financial

Emily Wu · First Republic Securities Company

Chet Gohd · RPM Mortgage

Faramarz Moeen-Ziai · Bank of Commerce Mortgage

Jeremy Gould · Integrus Mortgage

Obaid Mohammadi · Bank of America Home Loans Page 16

Debi Zentner · Diversified Mortgage Group Page 19

Robert Friedberg · CMG Financial

Page 15

Chris Graham · Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Jenna N. Gray · CMG Financial

FS 14 —

Page 15

Page 17

Rohit Mohan · Cal Coast Financial Corporation George Moody III · RPM Mortgage

Page 19

Kathy Zickenberg · Prospect Mortgage


CMG Financial

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Experience Something Extraordinary Everyday

Thank you to our clients for this honorable designation.

Left to right: 2013 winner Ryan Holford, two-year winner Jill Lyons, 2013 winner David DiVecchio, two-year winners Jenna Gray and Robert Friedberg

• • • • •

Experienced mortgage consultants provide expert loan guidance Local Bay Area headquarters and branches licensed in 44 states Direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Seller-Servicer Approved Ginnie Mae Issuer Comprehensive loan products, including Conventional, FHA, HARP, USDA and VA

We understand that no two households are the same and the needs of each household are as unique as a fingerprint. Delivering the right loans for the right reasons in a way that exceeds all expectations is our business. From the very first consultation to the closing of your loan, our team of skilled mortgage consultants are dedicated to responsible lending practices, product innovation, consumer advocacy and operational agility.

Client Approach: Providing superior customer service while delivering informed industry knowledge is our specialty. As your dedicated mortgage consultants, we are committed to you and your unique financial needs.

2000 Crow Canyon Place, Suite 100 • San Ramon, CA 94583 Office: (925) 983-3000 Corporate NMLS 1820 | Ryan: Ext. 3118, NMLS 246037 | Jill: Ext. 3073, NMLS 206346 David: Ext. 3089, NMLS 243971 | Jenna: Ext. 3237, NMLS 245851 | Robert: Ext. 3013, NMLS 203690

©2013 CMG Financial, All Rights Reserved. CMG Financial is a registered trade name of CMG Mortgage, Inc., NMLS 1820 in most, but not all states. CMG Mortgage, Inc. is an equal opportunity lender, licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act, California Finance Lenders Law. Offer of credit is subject to credit approval. For information about our company, please visit us at To verify our state licenses, please visit This flyer is not intended to serve as a business solicitation for residents in the following states: Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. — FS 15

2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals


2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals

FS 16 —


Kristine Marr Top Choice Among Elite Realtors • Reliable • Committed

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• Exceptional service • High level of expertise • Customized financial solutions

Two-year winner Kristine Marr

From seasoned investors to first-time homebuyers, Kristine has the knowledge and expertise to provide optimal loan programs and scenarios. Guiding every client through their unique options is Kristine’s ultimate goal. Backed by the strength of RPM Mortgage, borrowers receive the benefits of direct funding, local operations and superior appraisal resources. Through RPM Mortgage, Kristine has the ability to check multiple correspondent lenders and find the best rate and program for each and every client. Following market trends and watching interest rates allow her to meet the high expectations of her valued clients. Call for your personalized mortgage evaluation today!

1777 Botelho Drive, Suite 200 Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Phone: (925) 586-3174

BRE 01356195, NMLS 256704 RPM Mortgage, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity. CA Dept. of Real Estate License 01818035, NMLS 9472

Mari Mahoney

5934 Gibraltar Dr., Ste. 100 Pleasanton, CA 94588 Office: (925) 701-3933

349 Main St., Ste. 203 Pleasanton, CA 94566 Cell: (925) 200-6590

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Micaelanne Hogarty

NMLS 318325 Equal Housing Lender

Faster Funded Home Loans • • • • •

Purchase or refinance Conventional and government loan programs Fixed and adjustable-rate programs First-time homebuyer programs Jumbo, flips and more

Our loans are originated, underwritten and funded locally, which means that Micaelanne and her team will oversee your loan every step of the way, from prequalification to closing. This is not an offer for an extension of credit or a commitment to lend. All applications are subject to borrower and property underwriting approval. Not all applicants will qualify. All loan products and terms are subject to change without notice. Provident Bank Mortgage is a division of Provident Savings Bank, F.S.B., NMLS 449980.

BRE 00578791, NMLS 292677

I Help Clients Achieve Their Dreams • • • •

34 years of mortgage-lending experience Trusted with client and Realtor referrals Approachable, responsive and caring Nationally recognized professional mortgage-banking speaker and trainer

I am grateful to have earned the trust of my clients and the respect of my peers. While I can’t control interest rates, I can control the borrowing experience. I focus on what’s important to my clients with careful attention to details, so they feel confident making the most important financial decision of their lives. Opes Advisors is licensed by the CA Bureau of Real Estate 014586 and NMLS 235584. Equal Opportunity Lender. — FS 17

2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals


“Explain things thoroughly, but simply, so the client understands and feels comfortable.”

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— Five Star award winner

Two-year winners Jim Larsen, Regional VP and Kellee Larsen, Branch Manager

RPM Mortgage Committed to Excellent Service and Results • • • • •

Direct lender, mortgage banker Jumbo, conventional, FHA, VA and more In-house processing, underwriting and funding In-house appraisal management company Competitive rates and 20-day close for purchases

Lafayette, CA 94549 • Danville, CA 94526 Jim: (925) 962-9350 • Kellee: (925) 683-6509 • Jim NMLS 301259, Kellee NMLS 392584

Do everything you can to assist your clients and remember it is all an investment in your future success. — Five Star award winner

Orinda, CA 94563 Cell: (510) 541-1662 Office: (925) 743-3501

2603 Camino Ramon, Ste. 200 San Ramon, CA 94583 Phone: (925) 914-9326

NMLS 304682 BRE 01348308

NMLS 471830

Dianne Crosby, Senior Vice President, Top Purchase Agent at RPM. You have enough to think about when you are financing your home. We will do the hard work and get you the loan that’s just right for you. A loan is about more than just a purchase or refinance … it’s about the relationship!

FS 18 —

Darlene Espinoza

Martha (Miller) Echols

Reverse Mortgage Consultant Martha is a well-known local expert and speaker on FHA insured reverse mortgages. Her no-pressure, educational approach helps homeowners, age 62 and older, enjoy financial security, independence and freedom while living in their home. Security 1 Lending, NMLS ID 107636.

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Dianne Crosby

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2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals

30 W Neal, Ste. 105 Pleasanton, CA 94566 Cell: (510) 816-2904 Direct: (925) 249-3436 CA BRE 01232910 NMLS 290507

I am in the business of relationships. I have the knowledge and expertise regarding the tax and financial planning implications for mortgage and real estate investments. My process is fully transparent and helps clients create wealth and not just a financial liability. Visit for more information.


Scott Thomas King

NMLS 295092 BRE 01136169

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3240 Stone Valley Rd. W Alamo, CA 94507 Direct: (925) 552-3847

3240 Stone Valley Rd. W Alamo, CA 94507 Direct: (925) 552-0181 Cell: (925) 998-8163

NMLS 289636 BRE 01842459

A lifelong resident of the San Ramon Valley, Scott has more than 21 years of residential mortgage-lending experience. In that time, Scott has closed more than 2,000 home loans in excess of $850 million. Whether a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer, give Scott a call or visit

Recognized for the simple foundation of his exceptional expertise, frequent communication and attentive regard to his borrowers’ needs, George has earned a position of trust and “lender-of-choice” for many area real estate professionals. Call him to have a conversation today. RPM Mortgage, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity. CA Bureau of Real Estate. Real estate broker license 01818035. NMLS 9472.

Scott Doruff RPM Mortgage – Pleasanton

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Debi L. Zentner

George R. Moody III

(510) 676-1268 Trust. Knowledge. Community.

Diversified Mortgage Group 5199 Johnson Dr. Pleasanton, CA 94588 Cell: (925) 200-6381 Phone: (925) 426-8383, Ext. 53 NMLS 241540

My business is built on referrals from my clients. It is my job to make sure my clients understand the mortgage process, get the best interest rate, close on time and have a “wow” experience. I have been assisting clients and their families since 1993. Branch NMLS 508121. A division of CMG Mortgage Inc. NMLS 1820. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. Offer of credit subject to credit approval. Equal Housing Lender.

Clients don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. — Five Star award winner

NMLS 288485, CA BRE 912848

Five Star Professional surveyed more than 19,500 San Francisco East Bay homeowners. The final list of 2013 San Francisco East Bay Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professionals is a select group, representing less than 1% of insurance professionals in the area. Evaluations were collected by mail, phone and online at

All award winners are listed alphabetically by last name. Denia Aggetta-Shields · Lou Aggetta Insurance

Ryan Hayes · Ryan Hayes Insurance Brokerage

Gail Mirchandani · Farmers Insurance

Ron Andre, Jr. · State Farm Agency/Ron Andre Jr. Group

Terri Heath · Farmers Insurance Agency

Brian Moos · State Farm Insurance Company

Walter Humphrey · Farmers Insurance

Lawrence Mui · State Farm

Ashley Hunhoff · AAA NCNU

David Nieuwsma · AAA

Dirk Jackson · State Farm

Oscar Peccorini · Peccorini Financial Services

Jonathan Jones · Jones Family Insurance Agency

Matthew C. Rinn · State Farm

Randy Jones · Randy Jones Insurance

Terry Shimamoto · NBS Insurance Agency

Judy Francis · State Farm

Mike Jordan · AAA NCNU

Richard Smith · Allstate Insurance

Jay-Marie Garcia · Diablo Valley Insurance

John Kikes · Farmers Insurance/The Kikes Insurance Group

Mike Stoiber · State Farm

Chelsea Brackett · State Farm Dennis Casagrande · State Farm John DeLeuze · State Farm Barbara Dymek · Farmers Insurance and Financial Solutions

Bob Hayes · State Farm

Michael McGann · Farmers Insurance Agency Andre McPhail · AAA Northern California

Kelly Wright · State Farm Judy Yu · Prime Circle Insurance Services — FS 19

2013 Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professionals

Five Star Home/Auto Insurance Professionals

Patrick Grove · Surdez Insurance

2013 Five Star Mortgage Professionals

Five Star Mortgage Professionals



FoodScene News | Reviews | Tips | Trends

Drinks |

Zero Proof

Refreshing virgin drinks—no hangover required. Years ago, I got hooked on an aperitif of San Pelligrino mixed with pinot noir juice from Navarro Vineyards. It was a sophisticated spritzer—like a cranberry and soda but with panache. Then mixologists burst onto the scene and made my two-ingredient alcohol-free beverage look about as exciting as instant iced tea. Enter today’s “mocktails”— zero-proof cocktails—as elaborate as lobster bouillabaisse. I had two outrageously good mocktails recently at Oakland restaurants: a tart nimbu pani (Indian lemonade), from Juhu Beach Club, and a flowery ibisco spritz from Lungomare. But what first hooked my interest was the pomizzle, a fall refresher from the Walnut Creek Yacht Club. Chefowner Kevin Weinberg began offering signature mocktails after an expecting mom at the restaurant requested a virgin libation. Duly inspired, the Yacht Club tapped into its bounty of justsqueezed juices and ready-to-go syrups for its popular cocktail menu. House-made mulled syrup spiked with cinnamon and allspice, zingy “Zen ginger syrup,” and cranberry-jalapeño shrub became the inspiration for clever mocktails such as the pomizzle and mojo rising. “These aren’t just fruit punch drinks,” says Weinberg. (See recipe at left.) Lungomare currently serves the summery berry phosphate, a tangy berry blend with a hint of tarragon. And at Juhu Beach Club, chef-owner Preeti Mistry’s nimbu pani reigns supreme. It’s a house-made lemonade flavored with toasted cumin, black salt (an acquired taste for many), and cilantro. Now, if you must have iced tea, Mistry will fix you her version of an Arnold Palmer—half nimbu pani, half Darjeeling. For more recipes, go to diablomag. com/mocktails. —Nicholas Boer


paige hermreck


Ingredients ➧ 1/4 cup pomegranate juice —2 tablespoons orange juice —3 tablespoons lime juice —1/3 cup mulled syrup (recipe below) —Bitters, preferably non-alcoholic. Directions ➧ Shake all ingredients except bitters with ice, and strain into two glasses (preferably metal) filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs. For mulled syrup ➧ 1 Granny Smith apple —1 cinnamon stick —1 orange peel —6 allspice berries —2 pieces star anise —6 cloves —8 black peppercorns —2 cups sugar —2 cups water. Directions ➧ Bring all ingredients to a boil, simmer 5 minutes, and let cool in pot. Note: You can also use this base for hot cider.

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Food Scene


T h e pa r k b i s t r o a n d b a r

| Lafayette’s venerable Duck Club is reborn.

Take a Stroll Through the Park by ca l fo st e r | photo gr a ph y by m i tc h tobia s Settling into a spacious, plush, justreupholstered caramel leather booth, my perpetual fiancée and her precocious eight-year-old boy soften and smile. A minute later, she grins at the arrival of her three-olive dirty martini. Precocious, meanwhile, has already rated the revamped Park four stars— based entirely on the crusty bread and his cherry limeade. If only my little family was always so easily pleased. Chef Adam Carpenter and food and beverage director Obadiah Ostergard were hired a year ago in anticipation of the death and resurrection of the Duck Club—now called The Park Bistro and Bar. The new name reflects its contemporary vibe without sacrificing the Duck Club’s elegant note. And it does justice to Carpenter, a former executive chef at Blackhawk Grille. Our jovial waiter, Randy, is evidence of the Lafayette Park Hotel’s preserved pedigree. He started 25 years ago, back when the staff wore peach vests. “Not a pretty picture,” he says. My farro tabbouleh, on the other hand, couldn’t be lovelier: a molded cylinder of chewy grain, Feta, and olives— its richness cut by tangy sweet cherry tomatoes. In between bites, I reach for the 9 2 o cto b e r 2 0 1 3

lush flavorful meatballs in the buttered noodles from the kids’ menu. I’m with Precocious on those: four stars. My fiancée’s bistro greens tossed with toasty pecans is sublime, dressed with razor-thin peaches and flecks of goat cheese. “This is a place to linger,” she says, taking a silky sip of Grgich Zinfandel, “then stumble up to your room.” This is the place for a staycation. Her wine tastes even better with an aged New York steak from the “butcher block”—part of the farmhouse motif embraced by the new menu. It highlights charcuterie, flatbread, steak frites, and the Duck Club’s old-fashioned French onion soup. An ethereal potato gratin (is that possible?) served with the steaks is the size of a Rubik’s cube. A manifestation, perhaps, of a puzzle solved: aging establishment turned cutting edge. Take my ruby-red ahi. (Hands off! I don’t mean literally.) Wrapped in crispy fried nori, the sliced tuna is just cool in the center and draped over a warm melange of naturally creamy Mediterranean veggies. As the sun goes down, we pull open the three scrims behind us, revealing a central courtyard and its griffin-topped fountain. This feels very Mediterranean

indeed. That is, until dessert arrives: soft-serve Straus ice cream with as many toppings as you dare. Precocious chooses house-made Oreos, marshmallows, fudge brownies, and sprinkles. Perpetual fiancée limits herself to caramel sauce—“amazing,” she tells me—and berry compote. I had been eyeing the bacon brittle and strawberry dust, but eventually choose the mint mud pie over the sundae. The eight-year-old’s eyes widen at its arrival. Apparently, I owe him several bites for having stolen a meatball. So I avert my eyes as he attacks. This is a world away from the restaurant I wrote of in 2005. The roast duck, I said, was “like a cruise-aholic dozing on a deck chair, the poor bird flabby and overdone.” And then there was “the aging dining room, walls flocked with flying mallards.” The new dining room is stunning. A trio of gold-rimmed mirrors adds life and light. Hand-painted bell-shaped light fixtures and floral drapery deliver an understated elegance. Colorful and playful art lightens the mood. And for a casual evening, choose one of the many shaded or heated outside tables. I’m hardly the only one who has noticed the remarkable transformation. Waiting at the bar, I strike up a conversation with Scott Kelly from Foster City, a long-time regular of the Duck Club. “It’s much lighter,” he offers. “It doesn’t feel like a dungeon.” A bit harsh, certainly, but­in comparison, the new bistro is a knight in shining armor. Contact: 3287 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 283-3700, lafayettepark Hours: Breakfast daily (brunch on Sun.), lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily. Dinner prices: Appetizers $6–$15, entrées $17–$39.

At the Bar

Shaking It Up: What’s Old is New

· In his 24 years as the Duck Club’s

bartender (don’t dare call him a mixologist), Luiz “Papa” DaHora’s bearlike hands have shaken half a million martinis. You’ll see a lot of sweet concoctions at the Lafayette Park Hotel’s annual martini contest, but Papa most enjoys and is proudest of shaking and serving the classic. Gin drinkers, he says, are loyal and making a comeback, while vodka drinkers are flexible—willing to stray from the classic. “Everything you put in a stemmed glass is called a martini,” says Papa, who appears intimidating but is more of a jolly giant. In his earliest years, when the place was practically a men’s club, Papa poured plenty of brandy and needed a shower after all the cigar smoke. In the ’80s he poured thousands of kamikazes and cosmopolitans. Working Tuesday through Saturday nights, Papa likes the Park’s new look (“It’s really bright”), with its outside patio and handsome back bar. And he’s equally happy with the resurgence of martinis. If martinis aren’t your thing, that’s OK. Try Papa’s the Park, a cocktail he designed for the club’s new incarnation. It’s made with artisanal vodka, bourbon, and pomegranate liqueur. Just like Papa, it’ll have you glowing with a wide smile.

Chef Adam Carpenter

Bartender Luiz “Papa” DaHora

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Food Scene


Adults Only |

Tricky Treats Boozy sweets dressed up in a shot of nostalgia.

With Halloween around the corner, it’s time to double down on naughty. Hit the snooze button—one more time. Munch a bag of chips—with your mayo-slathered turkey sandwich. Leave work early—with the desk messy. And put a shot of whisky in your cupcake. “We love watching the mischievous grins of our thirtysomething customers as they inhale our cupcakes,” says Emily Floyd, owner of Bump City Bakery. Mixing spirits and sweets is nothing new: Witness rum cake or the classic bourbon bread pudding. But there’s a trend—or should I say a sugar rush—for matching childhood favorites with artisanal liquors. Floyd takes more than a dozen classic cocktails, such as the old fashioned, dark and stormy, and fuzzy navel, and turns them into sinful cupcakes. For the Manhattan, Floyd soaks brown-sugar cake in Templeton Rye and spikes the frosting with vermouth and bitters. “The booze cuts the sweetness,” she says. Liqueurs epitomize the happy marriage between booze and sugar. And nobody knows this better than the Italians. The dessert menu at Gianni’s in San Ramon is laced with liquor—like the amaretto in his tiramisu. “It cuts through the sugar, the egg, and the chocolate,” says Gianni Bartoletti. “It brings another level of flavor.” Bartoletti also serves ice cream with Limoncello, a simple Italian liqueur made from lemon peel and vodka. “It gives you a little kick,” he says. The most classic of all Italian desserts is the zabaglione, an airy custard made with rich, full, and nutty Marsala wine. Bartoletti is reluctant to offer it at his restaurant only because it must be made to order if serving hot and won’t hold long cold. But he has wonderful ideas for serving it at home. (See sidebar, Zabaglione at Home.)

94 o c t ob e r 2013

Serving Ideas

Zabaglione at Home

· You can find any number of zabaglione recipes online. (We prefer one

from La Cucina Italiana magazine.) What sets Bartoletti’s zabaglione apart is his presentation. If serving it hot, he arranges sliced strawberries on a flat plate, covers them with a layer of zabaglione, and then caramelizes the top with a crème brûlée torch. When serving cold, he spoons the zabaglione into chilled martini glasses, dusts it with cinnamon, and serves it with ladyfingers—to be used as a spoon. If the zabaglione is made ahead and chilled, give it a quick whisk before serving.

ross pushinaitis

Even his non-alcoholic desserts mimic liqueurs. His famous panna cotta is served with amarena cherries—fruit typically soaked in brandy or flamed tableside a la jubilee. And his affogato, the classic Italian dessert of hot espresso over gelato, is topped with crumbled amaretto cookies. But Bartoletti says there’s no need to worry about putting a bit of booze in your home desserts, even if the kids join in. “My father gave me wine when I was nine or 10 years old,” says Bartoletti. “I never needed medical attention.” —Nicholas Boer

Our Experience, Your Advantage


ld Republic Title’s Orinda branch consists of a team of handpicked individuals who bring a level of escrow expertise and attention to detail that translates into a distinct advantage for our realtor and lender clients.

Conveniently located on the ground floor level at Orinda’s beautiful Theatre Square, our team is dedicated to partnering with our clients to ensure smooth and accurate closings. When you need it done right the first time, think Old Republic Title Company.  Pictured left to right: Sam Salem, Assistant Branch Manager; Pam Caudel; Angela Bernardo; Marilyn Adams, Branch Manager; Dani Bowman; Jessica Rodden; Helen Stone-Benson

2 Theatre Square, Suite 112 Orinda, CA 94563 (925) 258-0180

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critics’ reviews The res taurants that appear in this section are reviewed by our panel of restaurant critics, who dine anonymously and at our expense. Diablo magazine accepts no advertising or other consideration in exchange for a listing. If your experience of a restaurant differs greatly from ours, please call our reader hotline at (925) 943-1199, Ext. 4, or e-mail Not all restaurants reviewed appear each month; for the complete listing, visit our website at Just Opened

Mexcal As the name implies, this

bright and colorful bistro serves authentic (Mex) and innovative (Cal) cuisine. The margaritas pack a punch, and the cool, chunky, creamy guacamole is made to order. Tucked-away patio seating provides views of passersby and a sense of getting away from it all. Don’t leave without one, two, or three refreshing and flavorful shrimp tacos. For big appetites, Mexcal’s irresistible cochinita pibil brings a saucy slow-cooked pork ragout—with enough rice, beans, and house-made tortillas for a fiesta. Also excellent is the sweetand-savory enchiladas mole. Skip the pricey shrimp plates and the bland carne asada. With the right selections—and a stiff margarita— you’ll become a Latin lover in the Golden State. 327 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 838-8588. Lunch and dinner daily. 234 $$$

a L A MO The Peasant’s Courtyard The

Peasant’s Courtyard, Rodney Worth’s spin-off from his Peasant and the Pear, is a childhood dream of what’s for dinner, or lunch, or breakfast. Ribs, burgers, calamari, pasta, pancakes—what’s not to like? Your allowance ought to cover it since few items cost more than $10. The adult appeal here lies in the peaceful outdoor setting and the ingredients, such as highest-quality greens that elevated a simple salad to a seasonal delight, and tender squid fried light as a sea breeze. A pulled pork sandwich married sweet and tangy pork to a fresh, crisp carrotspiked slaw, all on a soft, barely crusted roll. The ribs on the special were decadent in a good way, their lean meatiness meltingly marbled with fat. Drinks are top shelf, too: An unfiltered organic apple juice tasted like just-picked fruit. The chocoholic dessert will delay your transition to adulthood, with its warm brownie and over-the-top chocolaty yumminess. 3195 Danville Blvd., (925) 362-0088. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.


BE R K E L E Y Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen Before its

recent expansion into a neighboring storefront, Angeline’s was famous 9 6 octob e r 2 0 1 3

for a persistent line out the door. It seems its popularity has only doubled along with its size. Thankfully, the authentic Cajun and Creole fare—and atmosphere—is worth the wait. Go big on appetizers with decadent fried cheese grits topped with zippy crawfish étouffée, or a bowl of hush puppies and sweet honey butter dip. Skip the uninspired salads (iceberg with bacon and buttermilk dressing), and go right into entrées such as delicate, lightly fried catfish with spicy potato salad; rich, buttery voo doo shrimp over rice with farm-fresh Blue Lake green beans; or the smoky, addictive jambalaya with roasted chicken, tasso ham, and andouille sausage. Try to save room for the most authentic beignets this side of the Mississippi or a slice of pecan pie. And don’t miss the crawfish boils each spring. 2261 Shattuck Ave., (510) 548-6900, Lunch Tues.–Sun., dinner daily. 14 $$

classics share menu space with pastas, grilled fish, and meats, as well as desserts devised by pastry chef, Stacie Pierce. Take some time with the excellent wine list. 1517 Shattuck Ave., (510) 548-5049, chezpanisse. com. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 15 $$$

tender chicken korma. But, a seafood curry was lackluster, and in spite of the sampling machine, the selection of wines by the glass is limited—it needs more whites tailored to the spiced fare. Service is prompt. 1513 Shattuck Ave., (510) 540-7900, Lunch and dinner daily.

Mint Leaf Owner Deepak Aggarwal has changed the concept of this place several times. In its latest incarnation, an Indian bistro, the only element that remains familiar is the Enomatic winedispensing machine, which allows diners to sample one-ounce tastes from numerous bottles. The menu has some California touches—tandoori chicken comes on a bed of grilled romaine, and Aggarwal says he uses organic produce whenever possible— but the best bets are classics. We enjoyed dark, crisp vegetable samosas with brightly flavored chutneys, wellseasoned aloo gobi, and

2 3 $$ Paisan Paisan is a case

study in high-end casual dining. Wood tables, paper napkins, and canisters of silverware keep the atmosphere light, while southern Italian cuisine with a California twist makes the menu enticing. The focus is mainly on traditional pastas, like fettuccine Bolognese, and contemporary thin-crust pizzas, like the potato-artichoke pie with bacon, rosemary, and Fontina cheese. But don’t miss innovative entrées such as the ribollita, a rich Tuscan stew of braised beef, kale, and borlotti beans, spotted with toasted

Chez Panisse Café

This younger sibling of the restaurant downstairs continues to offer a brief but intriguing menu of à la carte dishes that reflect the season. Some say that the “California pizza” was born in the rustic brick oven here, as was the crusty baked goat cheese served with a garden salad. Those

key to symbols

n e w A new review of a restaurant

u p d a t e An update of a previous review w i n n e r 2012 Diablo Food Awards winner

$ $$ $$$ $$$$


Wine and beer

2 3

Full bar

4 5

Private room or parties of 50 or more

Cheap ($10 or less per dinner entrée) Inexpensive ($11–$17) Moderate ($18–$24) Expensive (more than $25)

Outdoor dining Late-night dining (service after 10 p.m.)

bread and parmesan. As is practically required for any new Bay Area restaurant these days, meats and produce are often sourced from local distributors and farmers markets, before being turned into appetizers like fried cauliflower or an amazing chicory salad with white anchovies. Pass on the bland ricotta cheesecake, though. 2514 San Pablo Ave., (510) 649-1031, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 4 $$ Trattoria La Siciliana This tightly

packed, family-style Italian eatery has a frenzied atmosphere. Waiters squeeze between tables, and cooks work so furiously that lemon wedges still bear their packinghouse stickers. Waits can get long, and once you’re seated, you have to be careful not to fill up on the Franciscan-style sourdough bread served with the restaurant’s signature olive oil– garlic dip. We enjoyed a subtle, light chicken soup filled with angel hair pasta, linguine alla diavola served with a freshly caught whole Maine lobster, and chicken scarpariello in delicious lemon butter–caper sauce. But gnocchi in a frothy, bright green pesto were as chewy as rubber, and the so-called strawberry granita had the taste and texture of Smucker’s strawberry jam. 2993 College Ave., (510) 704-1474, trattorialasiciliana. com. Dinner daily.

14 $$

Zut Taking over

Eccolo’s former space on Fourth Street, Zut has an open dining room with smoky mirrors above the tables giving the space a French bistro feel. But chef Jim Wimborough’s menu is more broadly Mediterranean. Braised white beans with robust bitter greens and soft creamy goat cheese is a warming start to any meal, ours being the sausage and farm egg pizza. Rich yolks of two overeasy eggs infused the whole pie, blending perfectly with the mild tomato sauce, spicy sausage, and arugula. We continued with the lamb chops—tender loin on the bone with bell peppers, walnuts, onions, and spinach served over wild rice. Thick, rich hazelnut pot de crème with toffee crunchies and tawny port were a perfect finish. 1820 Fourth St., (510) 644-0444, zutonfourth. com. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily, weekend brunch. 2 3 4 5 $$$

Lindsay Wildlife Museum Bay Area Science Festival Partner SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26 / SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30 / THURSDAY, OCTOBER 31

Not-So-Scary Animals for Halloween! WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING—Meet a live owl, bat, or opossum. Discover its night life. CREEPY CRAWLIES—Get close to a live spider, cockroach, or snake. How does it help the environment? ANIMAL MYTHS—Are bats blind? Are snakes poisonous? Meet live animals and find out fact vs. fiction.

Don’t miss our “bat cave”!!



Bravo Bistro On

Learn about Sun science and how wildlife, including the museum’s honey bees, use the Sun to find their way. Cosponsored by Mount Diablo Astronomical Society.

the busy corner of Contra Costa and Taylor boulevards, Bravo, sister restaurant to Fiore in Concord, creates an Italian supper club atmosphere with background opera and popular music playing. The restaurant’s CaliforniaItalian cuisine nods to seasonal ingredients, but Bravo’s best bet is the fresh, succulent seafood in entrées that don’t rise above $16.95 (some meat dishes are a bit higher). The Bravo

Follow the Sun


Mini Monday—Animals of the Night Special event cost info at

First-Ever Festival Partner in Contra Costa! LINDSAY WILDLIFE MUSEUM


1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek next to Larkey Park or call (925) 935-1978


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critics’ reviews | concord

diablo dish b y e t h a n f l e t c h e r

After 15 years of delighting Tri-Valley diners with their winning combination of Mediterranean-influenced American comfort food and drool-worthy desserts, Esin proprietors Curtis and Esin

deCarion are finally opening up a second restaurant. The husband-and-wife team announced they would take over the Crown & Anchor space at 331 Hartz Avenue in downtown Danville. According to Curtis, the plan is for a neighborhood tavern that will offer food with the same high-quality, seasonal ingredients as Esin. They’re planning a major remodel of the space—which will feature front and back patios, along with a 16-seat bar—and are shooting to open by next February. Another East Bay restaurateur is expanding to the Tri-Valley: Sasa and Blue Gingko owner Philip Yang is planning a restaurant at Dublin’s Fallon Gateway shopping center. The concept hasn’t quite been nailed down yet, but Yang says it’ll be Izakaya-style Japanese small plates. Look for that to launch next spring. That’s not all for Dublin diners. Also headed for Fallon Gateway, according to city officials, are a Panera Bread, a Hawaiian grill, and a new branch of Gum Kuo, the popular Chinese BBQ spot in Oakland’s Chinatown. Not to be outdone, Dublin’s Grafton Station shopping center will host two new restaurants as well: the Mongolian hot pot chain Little Sheep, and the Dumpling Factory. Longtime Tri-Valley caterer Eduardo Posada is opening a brick-and-mortar dining spot in downtown Livermore. Taking over a former taqueria at 988 Murrieta Boulevard, Posada restaurant will serve Southwestern-style tapas paired with carefully curated, Livermore-only wines from smaller operators such as Cuda Ridge, Retzlaff, and McGrail. Posada was aiming for an early October debut. Friends and co-owners Shawn Akbarbour and Ari Taibak took over the former Pho Minh space at 1991 Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton, gutted the interior, and plan to open Lotus Persian Cuisine early this month. Taibak, the executive chef, ran his own restaurant in Iran, so expect authentic fare highlighted by kebabs, grilled meats, and made-in-house tandoori bread. Some sad news in Lafayette, as longtime breakfast-lunch spot Squirrel’s Coffee Shop has served its last plate of eggs and hash browns. Owner Richard Poy says the family shut it down to make way for new tenants as part of a revitalization of that entire historic block off of Mt. Diablo Boulevard. No word yet on a replacement, although rumors hint at a fairly high-profile breakfast-through-dinner diner concept. On Oakland’s Grand Avenue, the latest project of Pizzaiolo owner Charlie Hallowell is finally coming into focus. More than a year in the making, Penrose & Sons bar and grill should debut early this month, and will sport a menu with a slight North African–Middle Eastern bent highlighted by meats grilled on a woodfired hearth. Finally, there is a new restaurant headed for Jack London Square called Jack’s Chowder House. Details are scarce, but word is that Rick Hackett, the owner of nearby Bocanova, is involved (which restaurant reps neither confirmed nor denied). Got Dish? E-mail us at Follow us online at

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salad, which advertised Gorgonzola and seasonal fruit, traveled all over the map, serving up apples, strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple—along with a random olive. Every savory dish is intensely seasoned with dried herbs, including the accompanying vegetables. Check out the tangy and tender lemon tart for dessert. 1050 Contra Costa Blvd., (925) 363-4443, Lunch and dinner daily.

1 3 4 $$ Hot Basil Café

Split personalities are not usually great for relationships. But Hot Basil’s side-by-side servings of Indian and Thai dishes are worthy of a long-term commitment. And when we say side-by-side, we mean it. This is not a fusion restaurant but a place where Indian and Thai specialties are independently realized—a place where you can try samosas, then Thai fried rice. Both cuisines are spice intensive, so although it may seem strange to follow the refreshingly complex vegetarian spring rolls with the rich yet light aloo gobi (cauliflower and potato in a tomato-and-onion sauce), it works out fine. There are missteps, such as a bland pad Thai, but you have to expect that on a large menu that ranges from tom kha gai to tandoori chicken. While not the best Thai or Indian food you’ll ever eat, Hot Basil comes through on the little things, like a properly baked naan, that ensure this is one first date you’ll want to meet again. 790-D Oak Grove Rd., (925) 288-0000. Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 1 3 $$

La Sen Bistro Need a France fix? Surprisingly, downtown Concord can hook you up. Just steps from the Brenden theaters, La Sen Bistro looks and feels like a romantic, low-lit European restaurant, and certain dishes will beam you across the ocean faster than Air France. Employing competent French technique witnessed over the years at the now-closed La Rose Bistro in Berkeley, the kitchen pumps out a subtle, balanced Roquefort and green apple salad; tender roasted lamb chops in a port sauce served with light-as-a-cloud potato puffs; and a good-quality rib eye with fries so crisp, light, and garlicky, you’ll want a second order. A Caesar salad also gets high marks, and a house-made cobbler of pears and blackberries, a special on the dessert menu, is luscious if mushy. The uncomplicated wine list is a good fit with the food, the service is friendly and efficient, and prices are reasonable. 2002 Salvio St., Ste. B, (925) 363-7870, lasenbistro. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 15 $$$

DA N V I L L E Akira Bistro If you

like your Japanese fare tailored to Western palates and served in substantial portions, Akira Bistro is for you. Vegetable tempura is fried in a bold batter thick enough to handle fish and chips, while cucumber and seaweed salad comes bathed in a tangy dressing. A series of special maki—named for nearby towns or with

wordplays, like pay roll, bank roll, and honor roll—are the focus of the sushi menu. The Alamo roll, spicy scallop inside, cool hamachi outside, presented a delicate balance of flavors while the smooth avocado, chewy gyoza, and crispy shrimp tempura in the Shogun roll were a trio of well-matched textures. After savoring the warm tempura-fried green tea ice cream, sit back and admire the restaurant’s sleek decor and creative lights shaded by paper lanterns and parasols. 499 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 552-5888, Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 $$ The Amazing Wok

Don’t let the nondescript plaza location fool you. This Blackhawk area eatery serves generous portions of delicious, sizzling Chinese fare heaped onto elegant square plates that will keep you coming back for more. In the former home of Brandy Ho’s, the new owners have kept things simple with a straightforward, if somewhat predictable, menu. The food is fresh and consistent, and served with an impressive level of attention. The all-inclusive menu covers pretty much all of China, and you really can’t go wrong with any item. We especially liked the Amazing Wok signature dishes like the beef with beautiful bright red bell peppers and must-try hot and spicy garlic eggplant. Anything with kung pao is good, too, as is the moo shu, a savory-sweet Mandarin dish served with small delectable pancakes. 9000 Crow Canyon Rd., Ste. H, (925) 736-1888, Lunch and dinner daily.


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critics’ reviews | danville winner

Esin Restaurant & Bar Esin deCarion’s

dedication to honest desserts defined Café Esin’s decade-long rule in San Ramon. But when she and her husband, Curtis, moved their operation to Danville— as Esin Restaurant & Bar—a more polished and masculine character emerged. Sweets still shine, but it’s meaty dishes such as the pot roast and seared yellowtail that now steal the limelight. Having always demonstrated a light touch, Esin’s weighty new flatware, crisp service, serious wine list, and stately dining room bring deeper resonance to the ingredient-driven fare. The three-course Neighborhood Bistro menu ($28), which changes weekly, offers exceptional value. For a consistent and carefully executed California experience in Contra Costa, Esin stands alone. 750 Camino Ramon, (925) 314-0974, esinrestau Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 $$$

The Little Pear The Little Pear has found a happy niche in the sprawling ecosystem that is Blackhawk Plaza. Open early for breakfast, and for simple, stylish sandwiches and salads throughout the day, this latest venture by chef Rodney Worth takes advantage of a value-conscious climate. The tiny, cozy dining room opens to a tranquil patio, with the sights and sounds of the plaza’s duck-filled waterways. Chat outside over fried artichokes and a bottle of Rombauer, or enjoy a croque monsieur and espresso at the bar. Whatever your desire, Little Pear is a place to be fed, both body and spirit. We particularly loved Worth’s thin, buttery omelets (served through the afternoon on weekends), fluffy burger buns, and crispy bread pudding. 3407 Blackhawk Plaza Cir., (925) 736-4800, Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Mangia Mi At this zesty little Italian spot off Hartz Avenue, we almost guarantee you’ll run into old friends, whether sitting in the bustling interior or soaking up the sun outside. Definitely try the restaurant’s signature— now legendary—housemade, hand-rolled gnocchi smothered in Gorgonzola cream or made to order with any of Mangia Mi’s simmered-with-love pasta sauces. Depending on the season, the bruschetta comes with either unforgettably delicious bright green fava bean purée or savory oven-roasted tomato. Other memorable dishes include the steamed clams in a garlic-lemon butter sauce and a light beet salad with goat cheese and Marcona almonds. You’re also in good hands with time-tested Italian classics such as chicken marsala, shrimp scampi, eggplant parmesan, and of course, pizza—all for

1 3 $$

under $22. Don’t forget about the well-priced, accessible wine list and fun cocktails. 406 Hartz Ave., (925) 831-3276, Lunch Fri.–Sun., dinner daily.

2 3 $$ Norm’s Place Another

bar and grill addition to Hartz Avenue’s busy dining district, this automobile-themed eatery offers a casual atmosphere and food that goes well with beer. Danville native owner Justin “Norm” Walsh, who resembles actor George Wendt (who played the amiable barfly Norm on Cheers), is just as friendly as that character and always throws a party for St. Patrick’s Day. Chef Jourdán Chauss’s simple menu offers a balance of fried appetizers (shrimp wontons, fries, rings) and low-carb options (grilled flatiron steak and a marinated pork chop). The half-dozen salads and sandwiches are fresh and reasonably priced, and the menu claims to serve the biggest burger in town. Of the eight

burgers on the bill, six are beef; there are also turkey and vegetarian burgers. The heartiest plate—the shrimp pasta diablo—is available only after 5 p.m. 356 Hartz Ave., (925) 552-6676. Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 4 $$ Piatti Ristorante

Although Piatti is part of a chain, it’s one of the best CalifornianItalian restaurants in the Tri-Valley. Dishes such as Bellwether Farms ricotta gnocchi, Monterey Bay calamari, and fried Hog Island oysters live up to the name change. So does the seasonal bruschetta, which you might find topped with wild mushrooms in winter and roasted asparagus in spring. The flatiron steak is as thick and juicy as a filet mignon, and the well-trained waitstaff will give you good advice on wine. For dessert, there’s gelato balsamico, a rich, dense caramel gelato infused with balsamic vinegar. 100 Sycamore Valley Rd. W., (925) 838-2082, Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily, brunch Sun.

2 3 4 $$$ Danville Station Firehouse Bar and Grille The restaurant has “in transition” on its menu, reflecting the ongoing construction and renovations necessary as the former Rising Loafer space is transformed into a neighborhood BBQ joint. The patio, untouched by the renovation, is a great place to kick it on a summer day. W he r e i s i t ? 340 Hartz Ave., Danville, (925) 838-8800. whe n i s i t o p e n ? Breakfast and lunch daily. why t ry i t ? It’s got a superfriendly family vibe that makes you want it to succeed. On our visit,

the owners were taking orders, busing tables, and allowing their young kids to serve the iced tea and sodas. The food is hit and miss, and not exactly original, but the portions are big and you occasionally hit a gold mine. what to o r d e r ? The fluffy egg dishes are your best choice at breakfast (Joe’s special is especially

satisfying), but the crispy chicken and waffles might tempt you. At lunch, stick with a juicy “top choice” burger with shoestring fries—best eaten by the fistful. ho w mu c h ? A few items sneak over the $10 mark. who g o e s ? It’s a casual mix of families, singles, and workers on lunch break. —Nick Boer

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Sideboard Located

in the historic Danville Hotel building, Sideboard feels like your country aunt’s kitchen. Owners Erin and Ford Andrews’ commitment to local ingredients and consistent preparation comes through loud and clear in what they call their “sophisticated comfort food.” Everything that goes into Sideboard’s unpretentious, soulsatisfying cuisine is chosen to please, from Blue Bottle Coffee to Acme breads. The decor and ambience reflect the same care: rustic wood

tables with purse hooks; assorted antique china and flatware; a selfserve drinking water dispenser with fresh fruit. The menu changes often, but look for the levain crumb–battered soft-shell crab and apple wood–smoked bacon on a soft bun or shrimp ceviche on miniature tostadas, with avocadomango salsa and Mexican sour cream. 411 Hartz Ave., (925) 984-2713. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

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DU B L I N Denica’s Denica’s is the place to go if you have multiple personalities—or just don’t know what you want to eat. Part pastry café, part taco lounge, Denica’s serves up just about anything—and does it well. The breakfast menu runs from huevos rancheros to a banana Belgian waffle, but the giant cinnamon rolls draw the crowds— crispy on the outside, gooey in the center, and easily four inches high. (Ask to have yours warmed.) Lunch offers salads, sandwiches, and tacos. The chicken pesto sandwich was flavorful on slightly crunchy ciabatta and included a generously portioned salad of choice: Ours was fresh spring mix greens, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries. A pair of beef tacos was slightly greasy, but the chicken tacos were a simple, smoky-flavored revelation. One quibble: $3.45 more to add rice and beans? Seriously? Order a snickerdoodle to go. 6058 Dougherty Rd., (925) 829-6200, deni Breakfast and lunch daily. 3 $

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critics’ reviews | dublin Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi Too No, they

aren’t the Pep Boys (that’s Manny, Moe, and Jack). Frankie, Johnnie, and Luigi are three Italian friends who started a popular Mountain View eatery back in the 1950s, which was replicated several times on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. Their first East Bay location, on Dublin Boulevard, is a family-friendly restaurant offering standard Italian fare. There’s a multitude of pasta courses (with reduced prices at lunchtime) and specialized pizzas. (Carnivores should sample Tina’s Too Too Much, with salami, pepperoni, sausage, and linguica.) For groups of four to six, try Frankie’s Friendly Dinner, which includes a large salad, a cheese pizza, a platter of spaghetti or rigatoni, and a whole roasted chicken, all for $60 ($40 on Wednesday). 11891 Dublin Blvd., (925) 828-9380, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 45 $$ Koi Palace Express

This Ulferts Center eatery is the casual offshoot of Koi Palace, the large dim sum house that is the flagship restaurant of the shopping mall. Willy Ng, who owns both places, made his name at Koi Palace in Daly City, an establishment revered throughout the Bay Area for its traditional Chinese cuisine. Express nails informal, tasty Chinese fare with its delicate shrimp fried rice; smoky honey-glazed barbecued pork; and perfectly pan-fried seafood chow mein, loaded with crisp fresh calamari,

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shrimp, and scallops. Noodle soups, which the kitchen makes with slowly simmered broths, are also winners. The dining room, with its cherrywood chairs and large windows, is spare, but service is prompt and the food is always fabulously fresh and judiciously seasoned. 4288 Dublin Blvd., Ste. 120, (925) 833-3938, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun. $$

noodles, and teriyaki share the bill with some California twists, such as seared ahi tuna with organic field greens and awesome ginger vinaigrette. Desserts are exotic, including redbean ice cream wrapped with rice cake, and vanilla ice cream that is lightly battered and fried. 3518-A Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 962-9020, Lunch and dinner Mon.– Sat. 1 $

Liang’s Kitchen For a restaurant with jellyfish and pig’s ear on the menu, Liang’s Kitchen dishes up some remarkably comforting fare. This Taiwanese chain, with several restaurants in California, specializes in rice noodle dishes, including hearty soups similar to Vietnamese pho, and “dry” noodles—served thick as pappardelle or fine as capellini— topped with delectable slow-braised meats. Both the curried chicken and stewed oxtail have a satisfyingly rustic appeal, ideal for chilly weather. There are also many cold noodle offerings among the nearly 100 items, all of which are priced well under $10. Good vegetarian options include tender bok choy and crispy green onion pancakes. 4288 Dublin Blvd., Ste. 116, (925) 833-6086, liangskit Lunch and dinner daily. $$

Chow Tony Gulisano’s Chow, with its gourmet take-out market, has become Lafayette’s town hall. It’s an alwayshumming gathering point with an eclectic menu of comfort food, California style. Quality ingredients and upbeat service thread the experience together: You’d never know that Gulisano has three other locations around the Bay Area, including Danville. We loved the crisp spinach salad, plump mussels in white wine broth, and steamed prawn-porkginger won­tons. Entrées occasionally need a tweak—our bluenose bass was a bit flat and our pork chop slightly charred—and multiple waiters promised our child crayons that never came. But so much is so good here, especially the American desserts, that it’s hard to leave not wanting to return. 53 Lafayette Cir., (925) 962-2469, chowfoodbar. com. Breakfast Mon.– Fri., lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun.


1 3 5 $$ Blue Gingko Blue

Gingko feels light and open, despite being tucked into the nook of a shopping center. The staff is nothing short of delightful, and the menu is extensive. Sushi, tempura,

El Charro Mexican Dining El Charro—at

the same location in Lafayette for more than 60 years—has the rustic adobe look and feel of an old rancho, the kind you’d pull up to while on a dusty drive through the Southwest. Sit on the patio when the weather’s right, or in one of the plain but comfortable dining rooms. Regulars swear by the chiles rellenos and the fajitas—chicken, shrimp, beef, or vegetable. 3339 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 283-2345, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 4 $$ La Finestra Ristorante To escape

the bustle of La Fiesta Square, duck into this sleepy Italian joint located in a 1970s-era redwood complex with its own parking lot. The space is dark but has two pleasant porches. On our visit, waiter Tony, who was working single-handed, kindly offered us a half-order of the gnocchi with sage and mushrooms, which had a nice light flavor but a slippery texture. A petrale sole piccata over wilted fresh spinach was wonderful. The fish fillet was panfried until crisp, and the spinach was laced with a savory white wine–garlic sauce. With its old-school menu and operatic show tunes, La Finestra feels dated but has some nice European touches, such as Lavazza espresso and freshly assembled cannoli garnished with a few amarena cherries. 100 Lafayette Cir., (925) 284-5282, lafinestraris Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.– Sun. 2 3 4 $$

Metro Lafayette

The decor is minimal at Metro, the better to see the simply but beautifully composed food, and chef Steve Jaramillo brings a light touch and laser focus on quality ingredients bred from decades cooking in and around high-end Berkeley kitchens. Our heirloom tomato salad was the real deal: garden-fresh Happy Boy Farms tomatoes and silken Di Stefano burrata dressed simply with salt and quality olive oil. The similarly dressed grilled Padron peppers were another easy pleasure served with a delicate romesco sauce. Entrées also impressed. The fresh pappardelle with beef ragu was generous and delicious, while the pan-seared petrale sole was moist and flaky and complemented perfectly by the light, zippy lemon-­ caper beurre blanc sauce. Service is friendly and knowledgeable. 3524 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 284-4422, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sat.–Sun. 2345$$$ Uncle Yu’s There’s

an intriguing blend of elegance and comfort at Uncle Yu’s. Several excellent gourmet dinners are available for the large group that doesn’t want to fret over ordering. The kitchen here works wonders with seafood—lobster, calamari, prawns, scallops, whole fish—and don’t miss the wok-cooked vegetables in season. A whopping 400 choices on the wine list reflect the interest of general manager Nicholas Liang in matching the flavors of the East with the wines of the West. Lunch and dinner daily. 999 Oak Hill Rd., (925) 283-1688, Also in Livermore and San Ramon. 234$$

Yankee Pier The Lafayette incarnation of Yankee Pier is a pretty chichi spot to ride out a nor’easter, but one taste of the chowdah and you’ll be remembering counter service by a rocky harbor. Yankee or not, you’ll find oysters from the raw bar are fresh as ocean spray; check out the Fanny Bays. Popcorn shrimp are surprisingly tender. The petrale sole scores points for the Pacific, especially alongside beautiful sautéed spinach and whipped potatoes. The tuna and Jack is your grandma’s tuna melt, except better, in a buttery toasted soft roll. Linguini with veggies and clams would fix up an Italian fisherman. And the kids’ menu offers real food. The desserts, including the butterscotch pudding, rival sister restaurant Lark Creek’s. Ditto on the wines. 3593 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 283-4100, yankeepier. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 2 4 $$

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critics’ reviews | livermore breakfast.) The bar is sexy, the wines lovely, and the servers well tipped. Tatami’s dining room may be small, but it has twice the seats of the two crowded blackjack tables. So double down on $6 Korean tacos; you’ll never go bust. 962 N. Canyons Pkwy., (925) 800-0076, bartatami. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 2 5 $$ Clay Oven This latest

member of a successful San Francisco chain boasts an electric bar and plush dining room—adding energy, decadence (and a couple of bucks on the final tab) to a restaurant that serves velvety dishes, such as coconut chicken curry and saag paneer (spinach with housemade cheese). Still, while you can choose the level of heat, the full array of intriguing and redolent spices so unique to Indian cuisine remains in the background, creating dishes that are high quality but slightly subdued. Blistered naan, sizzling platters of clay oven– roasted dishes (including lamb, shrimp, and tandoori chicken), and innovative biryanis (rice casseroles) best reflect Clay Oven’s well-baked philosophy. Dining room management is a bit officious, and the kitchen can take its time. But when the food does arrive, it’s consistently fresh, hot, attractive, and abundant. If you’re a fan of vegetarian or lamb dishes, you’ll likely have a standout experience. 2417 First St., (925) 443-4100, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 45 $$

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De Afghanan Kabob House Low prices.

Good service. Huge portions. Delicious food. What’s not to like? De Afghanan’s chicken kebabs are glorious knobs of tender, spiced white meat. The chapli kebabs are light patties—flavorful, crisp, and lean—like burgers from heaven. Savory beef dumplings, called mantu, are laced with a garlic yogurt sauce, bits of roasted butternut squash, and firm split peas for texture. Vegetarians should dig the simple borani—your choice of squash or eggplant roasted with garlic and dotted with mint. Only our lamb kebab was ordinary—cooked through and bordering on dry. Instead, try the rice dishes (with lamb shank meat). The humble dining room shows character, with its chocolate and tomato red walls, bas-relief portraits, and mural of the mountainous Afghan landscape. This is the fourth De Afghanan; there are two in Fremont and one in Berkeley. 1550 Railroad Ave., (925) 371-1113, Lunch and dinner Tues.– Sun. 1 $$ El Charro Jose

Madriz’s parents are still turning out El Charro’s award-winning enchilada sauce, and those ultrathin just-fried chips are still made from housemade tortillas (watch out: a basket goes quickly). But now, the full bar and festiveyet-relaxed ambience at Madriz’s new location has turned a family operation into a modern Livermore standout. (Just look for the 13-foot-tall iron horse statue.) The restaurant,

triple the size of the First Street original, features smoked pork chops for carnivores, chile rellenos for vegetarians, and killer enchiladas for anyone (the beef filling is worth cheating on any diet). Still skeptical? The El Charro margarita, made with agave nectar, could very well be the best drink in town. 186 Maple St., (925) 371-8297, elcharro Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun.

2 3 4 $$ First Street Alehouse This

popular beer and burger joint’s major expansion has finally brought Livermore’s downtown dining scene to the tipping point. All it took was friendly service, good value, and a comfortable place to kick back and relax (a revealing lesson for the fancier flops First Street has seen recently). Share a giant basket of onion rings—and a local pint or two—on the sunny patio, and call it lunch. Or stay cool in the expansive brewpub, where you’re bound to find a burger, salad, or grilled chicken sandwich with your name on it. The food’s not fancy, but you can’t match the Alehouse’s indulgent yet unpretentious vibe. Every meal here ends with a Tootsie Pop. 2106 First St., (925) 371-6588, firststreetale Breakfast Sat.–Sun., lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 45 $ Hanabishi Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar Walking into

Hanabishi is much like entering a Zen garden. The dim light of the Japanese lanterns and the tranquil music combine to lift your

cares away as you consider the menu of traditional Japanese dishes. The varied sushi menu is complemented by mouthwatering dinner specials that range from teriyaki to tempura to shioyaki. 979 E. Stanley Blvd., (925) 455-1114. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Fri., dinner Sat.–Sun. 1 $$ Lanna Thai Prakin

Gamble purchased 400 pounds of tiny chiles before opening Lanna Thai, a smart, simple restaurant with antique paintings and artwork. Gamble dries and freezes the fiery Thai peppers at their peak, and infuses them into sauces and curries. But she completely ran out before her one-year anniversary in October 2010. To celebrate the occasion, Gamble bought another 1,000 pounds of Thai chiles in anticipation of a banner year and added specials that reflect her southern Thai heritage, including a noodle salad with peanuts, cilantro, and lemongrass. Sprinkle a little dried chile on the sweet and sticky pad Thai; otherwise, see if you can handle the chiles in the fish sauce. If you’re brave (and I mean brave), order Gamble’s extra-spicy house-made curry. The mango salad and coconut soup are particularly good if you’re not into meat or heat. 2270 Las Positas Rd., (925) 443-1101, lannathai Lunch and dinner daily. 15 $$

Railroad Café This bright and cozy café has served up all-American and Mexican-inspired combo fare amid cheery yellow wallpaper and country-style wooden seating. Along with fat slices of freshly baked pumpkin bread, supersize waffles, and overstuffed sandwiches, there are plenty of surprises, like the eggs Benedict stuffed into warm puff pastry with Swiss cheese and spinach, or the chunky chicken salad with grapes, toasted almonds, and lemon mayo curled up in a red cabbage leaf. As a bonus, many entrées include a “dessert” of egg custard with strawberries and yogurt. Or skip the entrée, and feast on olallieberry crisp and coffee for $5.50. 833 E. Stanley Blvd., (925) 447-0235. Breakfast and lunch daily. $ w i n n er

The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards

A commitment to a seasonal menu that emphasizes local ingredients keeps things happening at this restaurant in Livermore’s wine country; Matt Greco, who brings fine-dining experience from New York City, is the latest executive chef to take the helm. The restaurant’s inspirational fare still changes nightly: Standout dishes include such delights as heirloom tomato soup with charred balsamic and grilled local calamari with fingerling potatoes, tomato confit, and black olive tapenade. The lemony-garlicky Caesar salad features hearts of romaine, served with a judicious sprinkle of smoked paprika. Meanwhile, Wente’s

famous smoked pork chop never fails to satisfy. Overall, service is impeccable. While you’re here, enjoy the restaurant’s gorgeous wine-country setting. An ever-evolving list of more than 500 wines includes some excellent Livermore selections along with other can’tmiss California choices. 5050 Arroyo Rd., (925) 456-2450, wentevine Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily, brunch Sun. 234$$$$ Roppongi Sushi

Roppongi, a hip district in Tokyo, is known for its hopping nightlife, so this eponymous restaurant is a perfect fit for Livermore’s happening after-hours scene, serving sushi until midnight on the weekends. Justin Oh spent a good long while selling sushi-grade fish before finding partners to open Roppongi—so he knows his fresh hamachi. The sushi here, served ice cold on the outdoor deck, in the simple dining room, or at the marble bar, is king. The spicy tuna and salmon Livermore roll (with macadamia nuts) is a favorite from the menu’s dozens— and dozens—of rolls. The Korean bibimbap rice bowl, a staple from Oh’s home country, and generous bento boxes are a steal for those averse to lunch in the raw. 2206 First St., (925) 245-9662, Lunch and dinner daily.

1 3 5 $$ Sanctuary As the

bouncer outside makes clear, you’ll find Sanctuary is more about drinks than sit-down meals. The street-side patio is built for dining, but the lounge inside is better suited to a slice


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critics’ reviews | livermore of gourmet pizza than fork-and-knife fare. Still, we dined on tuna tartare, Thai salmon, and lemon ricotta ravioli, among a dozen drinkers and a host of flat-screen TVs. Music and events dominate the weekends, but stop by after a weeknight dinner or movie (Livermore Cinemas is across the street) for a game of darts or eight ball, or take a shot at the dessert menu. With house-made lavender ice cream and specialties from Katrina Rozelle, it may be Sanctuary’s best feature. 2369 First St., (925) 373-0521, sanctuary Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 4 $$ Simply Fondue

There’s nothing simple about Simply Fondue. The average table time is two hours, reservations are strongly recommended, and the experience is as much spectacle as meal. The four-course dinner for two ($88 before tip, tax, and drinks) starts with a light salad prechilled and straight from the fridge, followed by generous samplings of cheese, meat, and chocolate fondue. Servers cook the fondue on stove tops built into each table, mixing white wine and Emmentaler before your eyes. Flavor combinations go wild here, as in ahi tuna or jerk chicken dunked into sangria-infused broth. The multicourse meal will have you dipping cake and fruit into the chocolate fondue spiked with your choice of Grand Marnier, Kahlúa and Heath Bar, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. 2300 First St., (925) 443-6638, Dinner daily, brunch Sun.

2 45 $$$$ 1 0 6 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

M OR AGA Michael’s Ristorante Michael

and Drinda Pennini opened this restaurant in 2003, just around the corner from their long-standing Pennini’s pizzeria in the Moraga Shopping Center. Tender asparagus wrapped in prosciutto is a highlight of the appetizer selections. Executive chef Patrick Vahey keeps plenty of traditional Italian entrées on the menu: The penne rustica with chicken and mushrooms is a standout of the eight or so pasta plates. A salmon special and three kinds of veal are other menu mainstays, while prime rib is served on Fridays and Saturdays. Delivery is offered to nearby Lamorinda residences. 1375-A Moraga Way, (925) 376-4300, pen Dinner Tues.– Sun. 2 $$$ Shish Kabab Show

The name hints at Las Vegas, but the food is honest and the mobbed Middle Eastern vibe is entertaining, even when the belly dancers have the night off. Silky hummus and baba ghanoush served with warm pita are healthful starters. Stick with the entrée dishes rather than the wraps, which tend to be dry. Merguez, a spicy lemon-beef sausage, and lamb shish kebab are deeply satisfying. Husbandand-wife team Miki and Vivian Erez have all the right moves to create a buzz, with their affordable Mediterranean fare. Slip into the oversized bar before or after a movie, and soak in the ambience with a glass

of wine, sticky baklava, or a French crepe. 376 Park St., (925) 388-0351, shishkabab Lunch and dinner daily. 14 3 5 $

OA K L A N D À Côté À Côté is a hot spot, but it hardly feels like a pressure cooker. Tables are liberally spaced, servers rarely go bump in the night, and the small dining room is quiet enough to hear whispers over your wood oven roasted mussels in Pernod. The Rockridge eatery has won a large, trendy following that queues up for the food (moderately priced French-Mediterranean delicacies served small plates style) and the cool atmosphere. The restaurant’s bar stays open late (10 p.m. to midnight, depending on the day), as does the kitchen (until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays), making this a stellar destination for a très chic night out. 5478 College Ave., (510) 655-6469, acoterestau Dinner daily.

2 3 4 5 $$ Bellanico The husband-and-wife team behind this Italian gem in Oakland’s Glenview combined the nicknames of their two children for the restaurant’s moniker. Just as much love goes into earthy Mediterranean appetizers, house-made pasta, simple entrées, and restrained desserts. Our meal started with perfect wine service, grilled local sardines, lightly breaded fried green olives, and scrumptious meatballs served with salsa verde. Pasta, from short rib and smoked bacon agnolotti, to garganelli with milk

braised wild boar ragu, is of the highest quality to begin with, and then gets expert cooking and seasoning from the kitchen. While the wait for a table can be long, servers are attentive once you’re seated, and desserts such as bomboloni (Italian doughnuts) aren’t overpowered by sugar. 4238 Park Blvd., (510) 336-1180, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily, weekend brunch.

1 $$$ Café 15 For an elegant

yet casual lunch in downtown Oakland, head to City Hall neighbor Café 15. The cozysandwich-stop-meetsFrench-bistro offers omelets and breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and burgers, salads, and grilled sandwiches in the afternoon. The chef’s friendly wife, stationed at the counter register, will help you decide between the fried chicken sandwich, lamb burger, and closedfaced croque monsieur complete with finely shaved ham, melted Gruyère, and béchamel pressed between fresh sourdough. In the beer-battered fish and chips plate, the thickcut house-made french fries with sea salt and rosemary are the main attraction. The Café 15 salad starts with a slice of fresh bread topped with chunks of goat cheese, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts, with the mixed greens piled in a mountain on top. Fresh, tart lemonade is a nice touch. Be sure to

grab a double chocolate espresso cookie before heading back to the office. 597 15th St., (510) 891-3990. Breakfast and lunch Mon.–Fri. 3 $ District Located in the heart of revitalized Old Oakland, District is as soulful and sexy as Norah Jones. The 25-seat horseshoe bar, floor-to-ceiling windows, and plush, velvety banquettes are so inviting, food would seem an afterthought— until you try it. Order a pizza (the guanciale pie is phenomenal), spicy lamb meatballs, roasted brussels sprouts, upscale bar bites, and—this is mandatory—french fries with truffle aioli. District specializes in smallbatch whiskey (try the Templeton Rye), with seven whiskey cocktails (go for the District Buck). Enjoy your whiskey at happy hour, when $1 oysters warrant a trip—provided you order a side of those fries. 827 Washington St., (510) 272-9110, Dinner Mon.–Sat., weekend brunch. 2 3 4 $$ Enoteca Molinari

Small is beautiful at this simple but elegant 24-seat wine bar and small-plates restaurant. Just a couple blocks south of the Rockridge BART station, this mini food museum offers a short, often-changing list of Italian masterpieces, such as a tender house-made tagliatelle with a cooked-for-hours pork and beef ragu, and a beautifully seasoned braised lamb. Starters are nicely simple and often local, such as the Ocean Mist Farms artichokes, Marin Sun

Farms duck liver pâté, and marinated local herring. The fennel, orange, and olive salad was slightly flat in the dressing department. But for dessert, flourless chocolate cake is a tender puff of heaven. Go wild on the reasonably priced all-Italian wines. 5474 College Ave., (510) 428-4078, enoteca-molinari. com. Dinner Tues.–Sat.

15 $$ Hawker Fare James

Syhabout’s second Oakland restaurant is held to a high standard because his first, Commis, won a Michelin star. But Hawker Fare is Southeast Asian street food, and its low prices and graffiti-splashed atmosphere are more about grabbing a couple fave foods. Strangely enough, the “blistered” green beans were our fave. Even a vegetable hater would eat these like a sweet and spicy snack, and the bacon in them provokes full-on addiction. Also great were the beautifully tender mussels in a subtle coconut broth. Rice bowls star here, but the lemongrass chicken was a bit bland, the short ribs tough, and the rice clumpy. The Kung Fu Girl Riesling’s got just the slightly sweet, longfinishing flavor profile for the food. Don’t leave without trying the Straus soft-serve sundae, with salted palm sugar caramel. 2300 Webster St., (510) 832-8896, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Tues.– Sat. 15 $

garden cuisine is always in season

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The Bach Group at morgan stanley 2 Theatre Square, Ste. 322, Orinda (800) 786-1415, (925) 253-5322 D ia blo 107

critics’ reviews | oakland NEW

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in the parlor—and crackling behind the grill. Brightly polished silver is ornate, adorning an atmosphere of a special family dinner. It all adds up to a charming bistro with as much substance as style—a perfect addition to Piedmont Avenue’s honest, earthy culinary culture. Organic baby carrots are blistered, and just-plucked corn is creamed for smoky or slowroasted meats, such as braised pork or grilled steak. Shelled beans, pristine lettuce, and farmfresh eggs capture Homestead’s farm-to-table ethic. Vegetarians won’t be disappointed. More kitchen than dining room, this restaurant is the romantic realization of a young but talented husband-and-wife team, both of whom hail from S.F.’s Farallon. 4029 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, (510) 420-6962, homestead Dinner Tues.–Sat. 14 $$$

Miss Ollie’s Owner-

chef Sarah Kirnon has built up a reputation for her quality comfort cuisine, but Miss Ollie’s is her first solo project. She nails it. The Barbados-raised Kirnon’s interpretations of her native Caribbean fare manage a refined soulfulness, a balancing act illustrated in her salt fish and ackee fruit. A Jamaican specialty, the fish provides an intense savory bite balanced by the farm-fresh sautéed sweet peppers and caramelized plantains. It’s a dish that could have become jumbled flavor-wise but shines under Kirnon’s expert hand. The fried chicken is some of the best we’ve tried: tender chicken wrapped in a seasoned batter. Don’t miss the “doubles” sandwich, a vegan spin on the popular Trinidad and Tobago street food that consists of a spicy chickpea-squash mash between hearty bara bread (flat fried bread). The vibe is hip, decor is industrial chic with splashes of Caribbean color, and prices are more than reasonable. 901 Washington St., (510) 285-6188, missolliesoakland. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sat. 1 $$ Montclair Bistro

Opened in 2004 by chef Henry Vortriede and his wife, Kathleen, Montclair Bistro offers the affluent neighborhood “California bistro” cuisine, a definition taking in everything from field greens

salad and grilled baby artichokes to Chive crusted striped bass and eggplant cannelloni with a ratatouille of seasonal veggies. Appetizers are the restaurant’s strong suit. The Caesar salad revealed a delicious creamy, cheese-filled flavor, and the truffled French fries were as good as they sound. Desserts are worth the splurge as well. 6118 Medau Pl., (510) 482-8282, montclair Lunch Thurs.–Sat., dinner daily, brunch Sun.

2 3 4 $$ winner

Oliveto Oliveto’s place at the pinnacle of Bay Area Italian cooking is safe with Jonah Rhodehamel. The young executive chef continues the restaurant’s tradition of taking stunning ingredients and preparing them with style and creativity. Pasta and salumi are always house-made here, and impeccable. The menu changes regularly, but you can’t go wrong with any of the pastas; we particularly loved the agnolotti dal plin, a stuffed pasta with rapini, as well as an off-the-hook frisée salad dressed with both Riesling wine and toasted coriander. One of the prettier restaurants in the East Bay, the space is urban but warm and always accented with a

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critics’ reviews | oakland

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1 1 0 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

hugely dramatic flower arrangement. Service is totally professional, and don’t miss the restaurant’s special theme dinners, which celebrate ingredients such as tomatoes, seafood, truffles, and the humble yet mighty hog. 5655 College Ave., (510) 547-5356, oliveto. com. Restaurant: lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner daily. Café: breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$$ Plum Brainchild of Coi owner Daniel Patterson, Plum is a great place to go for a lively atmosphere and original food with plenty of international influence. The hip, modern space is welcoming, and Patterson’s goal of providing highconcept, fine-dining cuisine at affordable prices is executed brilliantly. Under new chef Manfred Wrembel, the menu is a bit more approachable (there’s now a more standard appetizer-entrée-dessert format) and less fussy, if still spiked with plenty of adventuresome oddities like black garlic, beef tongue, and smoked lentils. Wremble’s also added a bit of a German twist, like the über-rich baked spaetzle appetizer with apple, dandelion, and cheddar. The Plum burger, making a welcome transition from the adjoining bar menu, is In-N-Out gone gourmet with its squishy bun slathered in creamy aioli and melt-in-your-mouth fresh-ground chuck.

Service is informed, and desserts are a must-try. Sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen to see the silent chefs carefully crafting the intricate meals. 2214 Broadway, (510) 444-7586, plum Dinner daily. 15 $$$ Scott’s Seafood Restaurant Sunday

afternoons find the after-church crowd kicking back at this Jack London Square standby. Diners settled in leather booths enjoy live jazz music and the view of golden sunlight sparkling on the water. A few patrons even get up to dance. The food is old-school rather than contemporary, but it’s hard to argue with a Louis salad loaded with crisp lettuce, tiny sweet shrimp, hardboiled egg, tomatoes, and avocado. On the other hand, crab cakes could be fried more cleanly, and some of the side dishes, such as sliced fruit, taste as if they’ve been prepped too far in advance. An entrée of jambalaya made with pasta is well-seasoned and prepared, and service is solid. 2 Broadway, (510) 444-3456, scottsjls. com. Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun.

2 3 45 $$$ Sidebar Sidebar looks gorgeous, with its modern lounge, copper-accented horseshoe bar, and a view of Lake Merritt across Grand Avenue. Judging by the super-

packed bar, it’s filling a niche as a more upscale neighborhood joint to grab a drink and a bite. While mostly good, the food tends to lack the guilty, fat pleasure of real comfort food, and fails to achieve the subtlety of a more gourmet menu. A three-cheese panini with pesto sauce was tasty and comforting. An Atlantic cod stew was healthy and fresh, but the broth lacked any deep seafood taste or spice. However, the two-day brined pork chops with balsamic glaze worked well. Sidebar cocktails shine: martinis and Manhattans, as well as more exotic options like a pisco sour. The bar offers each drink as a classic or a locavore (made with local products, such as Hangar One, and ingredients). 542 Grand Ave., (510) 452-9500, Dinner Mon.–Sat., lunch Mon.–Fri. 2 5 $$ Southie Southie, a spin-off of Wood Tavern just one door south in Rockridge, comes off as a bit of a man cave with loud Zeppelin rock and its decadent beef-pork meatball sandwich— not to mention pork sugo (pasta changes daily for dinner), a pulled pork sandwich, and bacon-infused chocolate pudding. Still, it’s a cave for the sensitive, if pork-

loving, man with its flavor-packed crostini, like the one with marinated artichoke, fresh mozzarella, capers, lemon oil, and its phenomenal Rhône varietals on tap. Nearly everything on the always-changing menu is made in-house—unless a bakery or pasticceria can do it better, as in the case of the tender, fresh pappardelle. And everybody in this fun spot is over-the-top friendly: When one of us sitting at a counter along Southie’s front window jokingly said he could eat another meatball sandwich, a second one quickly appeared, free of charge. 6311 College Ave., (510) 654-0100, Lunch daily, dinner Mon.–Sat. 1 $$ Yoshi’s This legendary jazz house and Japanese restaurant has been an East Bay cultural standby since it opened in the 1970s. Shotaro “Sho” Kamio, a native of Japan who devised the menu, replaced standardissue teriyaki and tempura entrées with perfectly rendered “country-style” Japanese vegetables, including braised lotus and gobo (burdock) roots; seaweed sunomono with sesame tofu and sweet rice vinegar; and a grilled kurobuta pork chop with fingerling potatoes that possesses a breathtaking clarity of flavor. We also love Sho’s inventive take on agedashi tofu and his cedar plank–grilled Scottish salmon. The service in both the restaurant



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critics’ reviews | oakland and club is attentive and quick these days, and waitstaff explains the food in great detail. 510 Embarcadero W., (510) 238-9200, Dinner daily. 2 4 $$$

OR I N DA Baan Thai Restaurant This

spacious restaurant with a view of the Orinda Country Club golf course hits more notes than it misses. Basics such as Thai iced tea and steamed brown rice are perfectly executed, and we enjoyed a dish that was somewhere between a salad and an entrée: dead-ripe avocado with grilled prawns, crisp carrot and broccoli, green beans, and peanut sauce. Crispy basil chicken was loaded with tiny bone-in chicken wings and vegetables but lacked punch, and steer clear of the soggy, muddy-tasting green papaya salad. Colorful silk scarves decorate the dining room and are also for sale, along with teapots, purses, and other Thai treasures. 99 Orinda Way, (925) 253-0989, baanthai Lunch and dinner daily. 14 $ Niwa A perfect choice

for the couple that can never agree on what to have for dinner, this simple spot is a unique combo of Chinese restaurant and sushi bar. A full menu of all the Chinese standbys is accompanied by a list of sushi options— like the country roll with avocado, eel, and crabmeat—promptly prepared by the chef manning the sushi bar in the corner. You won’t

1 1 2 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

be wowed by the simple, white, rectangular room, but this place is perfect for a pretension-free Pan-Asian meal. 1 Camino Sobrante, Ste. 6, (925) 254-1606. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat.

14 $ Serika One of the more handsome Japanese restaurants in the area, Serika doesn’t disappoint once your dishes start arriving. Miso soup is particularly rich, with plenty of crunchy chopped scallion and bits of fried tempura. The red tuna sushi, even in the bento boxes, is fresh, pure, and smooth, and the yellowtail is even more delicate. The sukiyaki is a stunning still life of vegetables and beef in a sweet elixir of broth. The fry of the tempura is light, both in color and in weight. Our salad had a nice tangle of crisp lettuces, carrot, and purple cabbage, but was waterlogged. Two pristine balls of green tea ice cream had a great, slightly powdery texture. Service is efficient. 2 Theatre Square, Ste. 118, (925) 254-7088. Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.–Sat. 14 $$$ Shelby’s There’s some-

thing about Shelby’s that captures the true spirit of Orinda. It’s at least partly the street-facing windows that let in loads of natural light and make the restaurant a prime locals-watching location. Owners Carlos

Rangel and Gregory Haynes, together with chef Arno Kober, have successfully maintained the restaurant’s spirit, and the food is solid. A plentiful plate of mixed greens gets the perfect amount of delightfully sharp soy dressing, while a huge salad niçoise boasts seared tuna, mixed greens, hard-boiled egg, and roasted potatoes. Spaghetti with meat sauce needs more than a little salt, but the al dente noodles satisfy. Pizza and burgers will please young ones. 2 Theatre Square, Ste. 152, (925) 254-9687, Lunch daily, dinner Tues.–Sun. 1 3 $$

P L E A SA N T HILL Shaadzee Bakery Bistro This casual,

contemporary restaurant feels like a deli, with its display cases of Persian and Mediterranean savory foods, and bakery sweets. Diners order at the counter. But the golden-crusted rock Cornish game hen, although served reheated, and fluffy basmati rice make for a full-on entrée. Salads and sandwiches range from a beautifully seasoned if somewhat anemic shirazi salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and mint, to a Persian burger that’s a heckuva sandwich with tomatoes, red onion, parsley, and sliced pickle. The seasoned burger’s warm, crusty French bread would be great even

on its own. Don’t miss the refreshing, lightly sweetened pomegranate tea and the exotic flavors of gelato, including Sicilian blood orange. A pistachio-dusted Persian “rollet” of vanilla cake and creamy filling is light in texture and very sweet. 60 Crescent Dr., Ste. B, (925) 687-8200, shaadzeebakerybistro. com. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 1 3 $ Sichuan Fortune House Although

you can get decent pot stickers and pork fried rice at Sichuan Fortune House, you’d be missing the point. This small restaurant is all about adventure, Szechuan-style. Let the adorable owner be your guide to such delicacies as an appetizer of crisp green onion pancakes and entrées of rich tea-smoked duck and delicate steamed catfish, fished out of a tank to order, with soy and ginger. Experience authentic ingredients such as fragrant pink Szechuan peppercorns that literally numb your tongue with their cool spiciness. The spare decor here may not do much for you, but the spicy flavors will knock you into next week. 41 Woodsworth Ln., (925) 686-9828. Lunch and dinner daily. 15 $$ Slow Hand BBQ Meat lovers, get prepared for a rampage. When it comes to fall-off-thebone deliciousness, Slow Hand BBQ piles it high, and the accompanying sides should not get

lost in your mountain of meat. Among the ultrasmoky meats, the like-buttah brisket grabbed most of our attention, although we gave the baby back ribs and the slightly bland chicken some devotion, too. Do not miss the German potato salad, a guilty pleasure in the land of them. It doesn’t have mayo and doesn’t need it: Sweet onion, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and luscious bacon more than do the trick. The crisp, fresh slaw and spicy beans are also good, and the Grenache, as well as the Syrah-Cab-Merlot blend, will remind you you’re somewhere way better than Texas. Lunch is a brisket, pulled pork, or rib plate, one side, and a drink for $10. 1941 Oak Park Blvd., Ste. 5, (925) 942-0149, slowhandbbq. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 $$ Wence’s Wence’s may have just the right formula for a Pleasant Hill neighborhood restaurant. The menu offers something for everyone, from fresh raw oysters, to a tender grilled artichoke with house-made smoked chipotle mayo, to oldschool pork chops in a mushroom, pancetta, and wine sauce. Located in the space that was once Nibblers and then Fig Tree, Wence’s has a casual, comfortable feel and seems a bit more spacious, with new banquette seating along one wall and brighter lighting. Dishes are a mix of old and new: The kitchen turns out good versions of the many different choices. Check out the panseared halibut, which sounds busy with its

tomatoes, corn, arugula, and romesco sauce, but comes together nicely. Delicious-sounding beignets were disappointingly bland, but smooth-textured, seasonal pumpkin crème brûlée made for a luscious and interesting dessert. 1922 Oak Park Blvd., (925) 566-8971, Lunch and dinner daily.

1 3 4 $$$

P L E A SA N T ON Baci Bistro and Bar This corner café,

with its high ceilings, large windows, and dark wood furniture, is a pleasant spot for lunch on a sunny day. Italian-American fare and standard California cuisine, such as field greens topped with Gorgonzola and walnuts, make up the menu. On our visit, the Caesar salad had a satisfying crunch and a zippy dressing sparked by cracked black pepper, which our waiter ground table side with a footlong pepper mill. The quantity of an entrée of linguini carbonara with mushrooms could easily provide four traditional Italian servings of pasta, and we found the dish heavily sauced. Still, we enjoyed its rich flavors and al dente noodles. Bold domestic wines, such as La Crema Chardonnay, balance the hearty fare. 500 Main St., (925) 600-0600, Lunch and dinner daily.

1 3 4 $$$



-Photography by Wayne Miller and Lisa Duncan

The Junior League of Oakland-East Bay, Inc. proudly presents its 10th annual Artful Living Home Tour & Boutique. Please join us for a self-guided tour of some of the most unique and beautiful homes in Contra Costa County. You can also get a head start on holiday shopping by visiting our complimentary Boutique. Home Tour Fri & Sat, Nov 15-16 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM $35.00 advance / $40.00 door

Check-in and Boutique Alamo Women’s Club 1401 Danville Blvd. Closes at 2:00 PM

For tickets and more information, please visit or call (925) 284-3740 Corporate and Home Sponsors


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critics’ reviews | pleasanton Blue Agave Club

You have to hand it to Blue Agave for keeping it real. What other Mexican restaurant in this area has so consistently provided genuine Mexican delicacies such as earthy cuitlacoche “truffles” on plump, succulent shrimp, and chicken enjococado, a tender chicken breast baked in a sour cream sauce? Even sangrita, the Mexican version of V8, is available to accompany a tequila aperitif. A gorgeously grilled skirt steak stars in a platter that includes chicken mole of several subtle layers of sweetness and spice, chile relleno, grilled green onion, and guacamole. Accompanying black beans couldn’t be more savory, but the rice was mushy. Calamari came dredged in an interesting, mild chipotle seasoning, but the seafood was rubbery. Tequila sauce shone on a rustic flan, and the chocolate ice cream was satisfyingly deep and dark. The outdoor patio is heaven. 625 Main St., (925) 417-1224, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$$

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Fontina’s menu spans the spectrum of Italian favorites: spaghetti puttanesca, veal scaloppine, linguine vongole. Dinners start with crusty sourdough and spicy balsamic dipping sauce. Mushroom ravioli is a rich, flavorful concoction—soft, tender pasta enclosing

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shiitake mushrooms and served in a plain brown-butter sauce. Desserts are tempting, particularly a velvet chocolate cake. 349 Main St., Ste. 150, (925) 462-9299, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 4 $$$ Gay Nineties Pizza Co. Always hopping

with birthday parties and post-soccer-game festivities, this Main Street pizzeria and pasta house is the quintessential family restaurant. The secret of Gay Nineties’ signature pizzas is the bread—the housemade sourdough is aged and cold stored for five to seven days before cooking. The oldest pizza parlor in the Tri-Valley, the mainstay’s atmosphere is cozy and unique—a far cry from the ubiquitous pizza chains sprinkled throughout suburbia like so much pepperoni. 288 Main St., (925) 846-2520, Lunch and dinner daily. $$ Hap’s Original

Spotted easily from Main Street by its neon horse-andcocktail sign, Hap’s steak house has been around since the 1950s and retains an old-fashioned neighborhood charm, with friendly service and a cozy dining room. Complimentary crudités and Hap’s namesake salad topped with walnuts, Gorgonzola, and honey-chili vinaigrette made for refreshing starters—but the New England lump crab cakes were chewy and bland. The filet mignon with brandy

peppercorn sauce (one of five sauce choices for all steaks) was tender and juicy—and when paired with a seasonal side dish of grilled artichokes with whole-grain dijon mustard aioli dip, it was, well, bliss. Crème brûlée topped with chocolate sauce made for a sweet but ho-hum finish. Next time, we’ll skip dessert for another steak. 122 W. Neal St., (925) 600-9200, haps Dinner daily. 2 4 $$$$ Lokanta A Turkish

word meaning “neighborhood bistro,” Lokanta is at once exotic and familiar. This lively interplay between rustic and sophisticated is clear in the front dining room—where black granite tables meet whitewashed brick walls, and a clean open kitchen dishes up bean and barley salads, along with vodka-spiked salmon and skewered hanger steak. The skylit back dining room, however, makes for some of the best summer dining in the East Bay. Sit at the bar, or grab a pillow and a banquette table, and order grilled scallops, heavenly lamb shish kebab, and a glass of (Turkish) wine. It’s leisurely dining, so stretch it out with mascarpone-stuffed apricots and crunchy baklava. 443 Main St., (925) 223-8074, eat Lunch and dinner daily, weekend brunch.

1 3 4 $$$

Pastas Trattoria

As the name implies, Pastas’ best dishes are, well, you get it. Here, pasta is flavorful and innovative yet has the comforting, not-too-rich taste of good home cooking. Hearty portions, like the plateful of the popular rigatoni napoletana (chicken, spinach, basil, garlic, and marinara with cream added), are hard to finish—especially after you’ve polished off bread sticks and bruschetta and a mista salad (spring mix, Gorgonzola, and pecans tossed in vinaigrette). The restaurant is well known for its tiramisu, so if you’re in the mood for rich mascarpone cheese, you might want to hold back on the appetizers and send some of your entrée back to the kitchen for doggie bagging. Cozy patio dining is available for two, and the spacious, contemporary dining room can accommodate large parties. 405 Main St., (925) 417-2222, pastastrat Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$ Red Smoke Grill

In a sea of franchised sameness, Pleasanton’s Red Smoke Grill stands out. The specialty of the house is Santa Maria–style tri-tip, with a lightly smoky, crusty, juicy flavor. The tri-tipand-blue sandwich combines thin-sliced beef with blue cheese, caramelized onions, and horseradish sauce on a specially made roll. Other standouts include the rotisserie chicken, pulled-pork sandwich, and grilled chipotle prawns. Although the D ia blo 115

critics’ reviews | pleasanton pork ribs were tender enough to eat with a spoon, they lacked smoky flavor, while the barbecue sauce had a creep-up-on-you heat. Sides include small pink beans simmered with bacon, ham, tomatoes, and garlic. Also try the roastedcorn salad and creamy coleslaw. Red Smoke Grill makes its own desserts: bread pudding, crème brûlée, and an excellent Southern-style “Cocoa-Cola” cake—a dense, brownielike dessert. 4501 Hopyard Rd., (925) 734-0307, Lunch and dinner daily.

1 3 $$ Sozo Sushi Sozo

means creative in Japanese, and this neighborhood sushi bar in Pleasanton lives up to the name. There’s always a buzz in the dining room, which is populated by regulars and decorated with a whimsical variety of lamps—red cylinders above the bar, round bamboo lanterns by the window, and square and oval ones on the wall. Sure, you could order the classics here: unagi (barbecued eel) or spicy tuna hand rolls. But why, when the menu boasts 30 “creative maki” rolls? Options range from the Marilyn Monroll—with shrimp tempura, crab, avocado, and a creamy sauce—to the Three Amigos—tuna, salmon, and hamachi paired with cucumber and avocado, and topped with a spicy sauce—to the Monterey—a mix of shrimp and jalapeños. 2835 Hopyard Rd., (925) 484-5588, sozo Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 $$

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SA N R A M ON Café Tandoor Café Tandoor is a casual Indian restaurant where you order your food at the counter and seat yourself. A waiter brings your order when it’s ready. The carpeted, bright yellow and red dining room is often filled with families that have gravitated to the tasty, affordable eatery since it opened in 2004. Breads and meats cooked at high heat in the tandoor, an Indian clay oven, are the specialty of the house. The naan is wonderfully fluffy and crisp, and the cooks also make roti, a crisp, crepelike wholewheat bread that you can use to sop up lamb, chicken, or fish curry. Wraps are a good choice here, as are the vegetable samosas, which pack a little heat and come with deeply flavored tomato-stewed chickpeas. The spicy chaat salad, made with hearty green romaine and your choice of tandoori chicken, ground lamb, or grilled paneer, is tangy and satisfying without being greasy. The spinach pakoras are crisp, golden nuggets loaded with fresh spinach leaves. Lassi, juice, or beer is the way to go for a beverage, because the wine selection is limited to four varieties of Indian wines. 420 Market Pl., (925) 244-1559, cafe-tandoor. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 $

Fish on the Grill

What a concept! Order your favorite fish at the counter. Grab a soda, a seat, and a smart phone. When delivered, devour said fish with a plastic fork. We loved the catches of the day (halibut and seabass, on our visit) served with grilled zucchini and rice. But the flashfrozen fish is nearly as good. The butterfish is silky, the mahi mahi meaty, the fish tacos a messy treat, and the fried catfish plump, juicy, and delicious. If your mate doesn’t like fish, order lamb chops, Cajun chicken, or BBQ ribs. On one visit, the gas grill scorched the fish, but it’s always tasted fresh and has never been dry. This unassuming hallway of a restaurant has just eight small tables, but the to-go business keeps it humming. 2475 San Ramon Blvd., Ste. 6, (925) 362-8688. Lunch and dinner daily. 3 $$ Gianni’s Italian Bistro Third time’s a

charm for the evercharming Gianni Bartoletti. After opening Incontro in San Ramon, he made a dramatic downtown debut in Danville. The Danville Incontro is still there, but Bartoletti is not, having recaptured the quaintand-quirky outpost where he began. Now called Gianni’s Italian Bistro, the restaurant has a menu that has changed little for good reason: It garnered raves when

it was first unveiled. Some of the steady stars include silky cured salmon with shaved fennel, rustic polenta and wild mushroom gratin, gnocchi perfumed with truffles, and slow-cooked pork ragout over housemade tagliatelle. Between Bartoletti’s endearing Italian accent and the bistro’s accessible Italian wine list, it’s tempting to say you’ll be transported to Italy. That may be a cliché, but Bartoletti’s comeback is anything but. 2065 San Ramon Valley Blvd., (925) 820-6969, giannissan Dinner Tues.–Sun. 15 $$$ Itto Sushi Itto is a

comfortable sushi joint where football plays on the big screen and the hostess kicks back a few shots of sake with the regulars. Complimentary edamame and miso soup start the meal and are followed by superfresh maki and nigiri. Huge pieces of silvery mackerel nigiri are fresh and firm. We also enjoyed the Mickey roll, soft-shell crab and avocado thrown in the deep fryer, and the summer roll, spicy tuna and avocado inside, hamachi and unagi on the outside. The house special salad, a simple combination of mixed greens, seaweed, and sweet Japanese dressing, is nice before or after the sushi. Skip the shabu-shabu, though— the bland broth, glass noodles, and rubbery veggies are overpriced at $16.95. 2551 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Ste. 104, (925) 838-4848. Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 1 $$

Katy’s Korner Tucked in the corner of an otherwise nondescript strip mall is the hub of San Ramon’s family dining scene. This cheerful breakfast-andlunch café is always busy, especially on weekend mornings. But despite the crowd, the friendly staff seem to remember every customer’s name and preferences. Breakfast is the way to go here, and it’s served until 2 p.m. Ten variations of eggs Benedict make Katy’s Korner worth the wait, as do the Swedish pancakes and cheese blintzes, both topped with fresh seasonal berries. Portions range from hearty to huge, so bring your appetite. 2550 San Ramon Valley Blvd., Ste. L, (925) 831-2145. Breakfast and lunch daily. 3 4 $ Pho Monsoon Just as the disparate ingredients in its mixed clay pots and combination noodle plates realize harmony, Pho Monsoon’s unremarkable location, menu, and atmosphere somehow merge into an evocative whole. Pastel paint and sprightly service evoke the springtime freshness of tender bamboo shoots. The zingy broth in the beef pho, deeply infused with star anise, is mesmerizing, while the chicken consommé, included with most entrées, has a clean, round, nurturing flavor. If you like your Vietnamese spicy, reach for one of the Asian chili sauces ... and then a prickly salt plum soda (beer, wine, and fresh lemonade also available). Pho Monsoon’s soulful character may

be best appreciated, however, when lingering over a sweet iced coffee—brewed to order. 200 Market Pl., (925) 901-1800. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 4 $$

WA L N U T CREEK Ajisai Japanese Grill & Sushi Sit at the sushi

bar and Wayne Mo, Ajisai’s earnest manager and gracious chef will steer you to the freshest fish. If you’re doing tuna rolls, the Oakland A’s, with avocado, and green tobiko is a refreshing complement to the crispy spicy tuna roll. Skip the yakitori and go for tempura ice cream­: It’s better than apple pie à la mode. 2300 N. Main St., (925) 932-8398, Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 1 3 4 $$ Chef Jon Lee Playful chef Jonathan Lee calls his food “Asian confusion.” We loved the sweet yet spicy tamarind curry, and a coconut milk and lemongrass soup with its soothing, lightly spiced broth. Other dishes, however, were too sweet, too mild, or too confused. We rectified bland romaine lettuce wraps by spooning on the spicy chili and peanut sauces. 1250 Newell Ave., Ste. J, (925) 935-9335, chef Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 1 $$

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critics’ reviews | walnut creek Dragon’s Pond From

the professional service, to the modern interior, to the Hunan-style Mandarin cuisine, Dragon’s Pond is a cut above. Still, prices are more than reasonable. Prawns with fresh mixed vegetables and the crispy glazed chicken had a lingering heat that hit our comfort zone just right. The restaurant delivers, too. 1353 Locust St., (925) 926-0278, dragonspond. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 $$

House of Sake A somewhat raucous, easy environment, where couples and families pack in for top-notch sushi and a variety of sake served hot, room temp, or cold. The menu includes the usual suspects and a couple of twists, like the teriyaki mahi mahi or the vegetable garden, a dinner of flavorful sautéed vegetables. 313 N. Civic Dr., (925) 930-8811, Lunch and dinner daily.

14 $$

Dragon 2000 Dragon

Hubcaps Diner The

2000 boasts an extensive menu featuring all the enticing standards—from kung pao to chow fun—as well as the exotic. Sample the flaming pao pao platter and sweet-corn soup. Lunch is affordable and the dim sum and sushi add distinction. 1651 Botelho Dr., (925) 287-1688, dragon Lunch and dinner daily. 2 4 5 $$

automotive metaphor is carried to humorous extremes at this bright corner café dedicated to American diner classics. Beverages are listed under “Lubricants,” and sides are “Side Cars.” Whatever car-related name the menu may give your dish, the food is solid, plentiful, and quick. 1548 Bonanza St., (925) 945-6960, Breakfast and lunch daily, dinner Tues.–Sun.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar Fleming’s puts the

modern steak house on a diet, pricewise, while preserving much of the swank. We enjoyed a tender rib eye steak, as well as a juicy veal chop with piquant béarnaise. Just don’t overdo it with heavy starters. There are 100 wines available by the glass, and flights arrive in dramatic fashion. 1685 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 287-0297, flemingssteakhouse. com. Dinner daily.

2 45 $$$$

Kacha Thai Bistro

Lettuce At this lunch-

Modern China Café

Plearn Thai Palace

Kacha nails the classics: chicken satay; crunchy, pungent green papaya salad; and savory pad Thai. The Bengal’s Favorite brings beef bathed in a green curry redolent of lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, all hallmark herbs of Thai cuisine, brought by waiters in long black aprons swishing by monumental elephant art. 1665 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 988-9877, kachathai. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 2 4 $$

time hot spot, watch your gourmet salad be assembled to order with organic, farm-fresh ingredients. The Napa salad is a standout, with field berries, toasted sugar walnuts, and grilled rosemary chicken. We also loved the deep, complex flavor of the roasted butternut squash soup, and the ultra-refreshing and complimentary fruitand-mint infused water. 1632 Locust St., (925) 933-5600, Lunch and dinner daily.

A comfortable and stylish restaurant in an elegant vintage building. Dim sum shows off bold, fresh flavors in traditional packages. The teriyaki-mirin steak was lifted by fresh, colorful veggies. Likewise, a wonton soup with vibrant deep dark greens absolutely rocked. Sassy cocktails and wines work with the food to add fun, and happy hour runs all day long. 1525 N. Main St., (925) 988-8008, Lunch and dinner daily.

If you liked the two Plearns in Berkeley, you’ll like this one too. Barbecued meats— chicken, pork, and beef—are plump and smoky, with a distinctive blend of spices. The pad Thai is tender and sweet, with a bright freshness in the herbs and vegetables. 1510 N. Main St., (925) 937-7999, plearnthai Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily.

2 3 45 $$

The Italian standardbearer in Contra Costa for more than 30 years. Chef and co-owner Peter Chastain’s pure, flavorful risottos aren’t boosted by cream, and his light gnocchi and crisp pizzas will have you making repeat reservations. Wine director and fellow owner John Rittmaster keeps the wine list stocked with such treasures as a fine Bastianich Friulano that’s a dream with seafood. 1522 N. Main St., (925) 935-7780, Lunch Mon.–Sat., dinner daily. 2 3 4 $$$$

1 3 $$ Katy’s Kreek The

hollandaise on the 12 varieties of eggs Benedict is perfectly rich and lemony, and the poached eggs wonderfully puffy. At lunch, we liked the flaky, white haddock fried crisp. Its sister restaurant, Katy’s Korner, is in San Ramon. 1680 Locust St., (925) 946-0949, Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 2 4 $$


Kevin’s Noodle House With lightning-

Kabob House We loved an appetizer of tahdig, crisp basmati rice topped with a hearty stew (ours was made with cubed beef and yellow lentils). Kebabs come with fluffy, heavenly rice and nicely grilled steak tomatoes, but both the lamb and koobideh (strips of ground beef) kebabs were on the tough side. Service in the low-lit, soothing dining room is cordial. 1250 Newell Ave., (925) 935-9278, kabobhousewalnutcreek. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. 1 $$

fast service, an upbeat vibe, and wallet-friendly prices, Kevin’s Noodle House is perfect for a quick lunch or leisurely dinner. Fresh spring rolls and tasty fried fish cakes are good bets from the appetizer list. We like most everything on the entrée menu, from traditional pho to combination rice plates. Check out the fun beverage list. 2034 N. Main St., (925) 933-4746. Lunch and dinner daily.


Maria Maria The food

at this Carlos Santana– backed restaurant can be a backdrop to the atmosphere, but we enjoyed the zippy guacamole, tender short ribs in a smooth blackberry mole, and succulent duck tacos. 1470 N. Broadway, (925) 946-1010, maria Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 45 $$$ Mi Casa This homey spot near the automotive businesses of North Broadway serves Mexican and Central American fare. We liked the flavorful and light chicken soup, full of tender carrot, celery, and potato, pupusas (cheese, bean, or meat cornmeal patties), and a fresh and satisfying taco salad. 2195 N. Broadway, (925) 937-8800, micasa-wc. com. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. 1 3 4 $

Montecatini Ristorante If a high

noise level and an out-the-door line of diners are signs of a good Italian restaurant, Montecatini is a sure hit. The menu is full of northern Italian standards, with barely a nod to the cucina rustica that’s so in vogue. Don’t neglect the ever-popular pollo alla schiacciata—crispy, juicy, and rosemary scented. 1528 Civic Dr., (925) 943-6608, montecatini Dinner Tues.–Sun. 2 $$$ Ottavio Small-butmighty Ottavio wows with details not often spotted outside of Italy: Crisply fried sage leaves, a Piave cheese that’s been aged to a heavenly nuttiness, and almost everything—the pasta, the cured meats, the smoked fish—made in-house. The goat’s milk panna cotta existed somewhere between custard and the Sistine Chapel. 1606 N. Main St., (925) 930-8008, ottavio-osteria. com. Dinner daily.

2 3 4 $$$

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1$ winner

Prima Ristorante

Rocco’s Ristorante & Pizzeria Rocco

Biale, the grandson of immigrant restaurateurs from Savona, Italy, has established a family sanctum perennially jam-packed with soccer teams, working lunchers, and pizza aficionados. And, no surprise, the pizza is darn good. 2909 Ygnacio Valley Rd., (925) 947-6105, Lunch and dinner daily.

2 3 45 $

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critics’ reviews | walnut creek Salvatore Ristorante This

sun-splashed trattoria is lively and bright, with its sponge-painted walls and big windows looking out across Broadway to the green of Civic Park. The place remains lively through the dinner hour, thanks to the attached bar. The menu leans toward Sicilian dishes, with a special emphasis on fish. 1627 N. Broadway, (925) 932-2828, salvatore Lunch Tues.–Fri., dinner Tues.– Sun. 2 3 4 $$

Silk Road Owner Tony Sohi is repeating his success across the street at Pomegranate. Aromatic pita bread arrives hot with a dish of dipping oil. Go for juicy grilled kebabs on plates of heaping rice, Mediterranean pizzas, and pomegranate hen or osso buco. And the lemony and vegetablerich tabbouleh can’t be beat. 1440 N. Main St., (925) 932-9090, silkroadwalnutcreek. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 $$ Stelle Bistro Check

Taheri’s Mediterranean Restaurant The

kitchen mainly hits the mark with this Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern menu. Steamed shellfish comes in a basil broth, perfect for sopping up with fresh focaccia. We loved the succulent lamb loin, and the pasta selection is extensive. 2999 Oak Rd., (925) 933-1000, Lunch Mon.–Fri., dinner Mon.– Sat. 1 3 4 $$ Tender Greens Part self-service restaurant, part hall of gastronomy, Tender Greens offers natural house-carved meats and garden-fresh vegetables sourced from small local farms. Choose them for a sandwich, on a hot plate, or in a simple salad. Platters of roasted and grilled vegetables brighten the chef’s counter, where you’ll see your meal assembled. 1352 Locust St., (925) 937-5100, tendergreens Lunch and dinner daily. 1 3 $$

Sasa Don’t be intimidated by the large, intricate menu. Knowledgeable servers will walk you through the thick sake list, sushi menu, and various small plates. We loved Manila clams steamed in butter-sake broth and the thick, meaty pork belly skewers. You can’t beat the flavorful oil-rich yellowtail collar. Green tea crème brûlée is a nice finish. 1432 N. Main St., (925) 210-0188, Lunch and dinner daily.

out the überhearty pasta rustica: orecchiette with caramelized onions, potatoes, sage, and truffle oil. The Italian end of the menu is solid if unsurprising, but Stelle does offer South American specialties worth exploring. Try the lomo saltado, a Chineseinfluenced Peruvian stirfry with steak, onions, and french fries over rice. 1403 Locust St., (925) 988-0604, stelle Lunch and dinner daily. 2 4 5 $$$

2 3 45 $$

Sunrise Bistro and Catering This


Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar Scott’s is devoted

is a highly eclectic menu, ranging from vegetarian burritos to big slabs of smoked meat. All-American sandwiches come on hearty, house-made bread. Celery, apples, and cashews give the chicken salad a healthful crunch, while the brisket sandwich is just plain good. 1559 Botelho Dr., (925) 930-6323, sunrisebistro Breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

means “it’s all about wine” in Catalan, but this hot spot is also about great food. Va de Vi makes pasta in-house and cures its own charcuterie. The sautéed broccoli de cicco combines citrus, garlic, heat, and crunch to beautiful results, and the roasted Alaskan black cod remains one of the East Bay’s most stunning dishes. Have fun exploring wine with multiple flight options. 1511 Mt. Diablo Blvd., (925) 979-0100, vadevi. com. Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 $$$

to seafood: grilled, baked, fried, stewed, poached, or roasted. And it’s all sauced in seemingly infinite ways. Prime, aged, center-cut steaks (filet mignon, New York) are always on the menu. On Sundays, treat yourself to the champagne brunch accompanied by live jazz. 1333 N. California Blvd., (925) 934-1300, Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun. 2 3 4 5 $$$$

1 2 0 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

2 3 4 $$

Va de Vi The name


Vanessa’s Bistro 2 Feeling

hungry? How about a refreshing Vietnamese green papaya salad with gently poached prawns? Or chunks of salmon and ahi, done Hawaiian poke style? Or even a hefty caramelized filet mignon for little more than $1 an ounce? These are just some of many really good reasons to come to Vanessa’s simple and satisfying bistro, recently relocated from Main to Locust Street. (Another draw is the great wine list.) The more affordable rent allows chef Vanessa Dang to offer special pricing, such as Sunday’s all-day happy hour, when a wide selection of Asian tapas is half price. Most of the staff comes from the original location, and it shows in the well-designed plates and knowledgeable, professional service. If you can’t decide what to order, pick a salad, any salad. 1512 Locust St., (925) 891-4790, Lunch and dinner daily. 2 3 5 $$

Vic Stewart’s This railroad depot turned steak emporium, with several dining rooms and a cozy dining car, features marbled Angus beef that will tempt you in all its forms: filet mignon, prime rib, and New York steak. A wine list loaded with hearty reds almost guarantees you’ll find the right Cabernet or Merlot. 850 S. Broadway, (925) 943-5666, vicstewarts. com. Dinner Tues.–Sun.

2 4 $$$$ Walnut Creek Yacht Club WCYC has the

freshest fish, bar none. The simplest preparations are usually the best, particularly the half-dozen or more grilled entrées listed each day. Each comes with a side (get the irresistable “regatta” fries.) The oyster bar rocks, as do the artisanal cocktails. 1555 Bonanza St., (925) 944-3474, wcyc. net. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Sat. 2 3 4 $$$ Yan’s China Bistro and Bar Stone-tiled

floors, a shiny full bar, and sleek lighting provide a flashy setting, but the menu is straightahead Chinese. One example: a steaming bowl of wonton soup— clear beef broth, tender dumplings, and wedges of perfectly cooked bok choy. 2929 N. Main St., (925) 944-5968, Lunch and dinner Tues.– Sun. 2 3 4 $$ ■

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| special adver tising section |

Blue Gingko brings Lafayette’s award winning sushi to Blackhawk Plaza. Delight in a beautiful evening dining on our patio, sipping a hand crafted cocktail from our outdoor bar and enjoying a charming view of the plaza duck pond. Allow our experienced staff to guide you through our menu, featuring an array of specials including our dinner for two ($25) offered Sundays and Mondays, Izakaya Tuesdays, and bottomless hot sake Sunday through Tuesday. 3496 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville

(925) 648- 7838

Stelle bistro With over 31 years of experience in the gastronomic industry, Hugo Boye decided to open Stelle Bistro; a family restaurant focusing in the finest quality and freshness of its ingredients. Experience the warm and professional service of our staff, who work diligently to satisfy the requests of our loyal customers and make your dining experience an event you won’t forget. Join us for Happy Hour: 4–6 p.m.; 9 p.m.–close. Wine tasting every Friday 4–7 p.m. 1403 Locust Street, Walnut Creek

(925) 988-0604

Casbah Café Discover the amazing secrets of a Mediterranean chef! Join us in a joyous celebration of Mediterranean fusion in downtown Livermore. We’ve paired culinary excellence with the best service in town to create the ultimate dining experience. Highlighted by fresh local ingredients and seasonal tastes, our menu boasts an exquisite selection of regional favorites from the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe. Featuring exotic meat entrees, vegetarian/ vegan favorites, celiac and special diet needs, and an 85% gluten-free menu. 1770 First Street, Livermore 122 October 2013

(925) 243-1477

The Counter Winner of Diablo magazine’s Reader’s Pick for Best Burger in the East Bay. You’re in charge at The Counter®. Choose between five different proteins (antibiotic and hormone free beef, all natural turkey and chicken, vegan veggie, and a Market Select), 12 cheeses, 32 toppings, 23 sauces, and 7 buns. Each burger is as unique as the guest. With choices including gluten-free buns, vegetarian-friendly toppings, burgers in a bowl, and more, the “exception” is our standard. 1699 North California Boulevard, Walnut Creek

(925) 935-3795

Va De Vi All the elements of food, wine, and ambience come together at Va de Vi Bistro and Wine Bar. The menu encourages customers to explore and share a variety of eclectic, international, small plate portions paired with a large selection of wines by the flight, taste, glass, or bottle. A large outdoor patio area is available. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. Full bar. In the heart of downtown Walnut Creek, next to Tiffany. 1511 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Walnut Creek

(925) 979-0100

rustic tavern Chef Gary Rust brings 20 years of exceptional culinary experience to downtown Lafayette. The interior combines an open kitchen with a warm rustic motif. Only the finest local and organic ingredients are used in seasonal favorites such as dungeness crab duo, roasted chicken with chantrelle mushrooms, and a delicious grass fed burger with house cut fries! Please join us in our bar for classic cocktails and an eclectic list of wines and craft brews. Enjoy our full-service dining room or our outdoor patio. Open Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–9 p.m. 3576 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette

(925) 385-0559

the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa Plan your Thanksgiving activities early. The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa invite you and your family to choose us for your Thanksgiving feast. Whether you decide on brunch with seating for large parties, or decide a more intimate dinner at Paragon is just right, the Claremont will deliver on delicious holiday food with all the trimmings. Make the Claremont your holiday gathering spot. Visit us online and click on Dining for details. 41 Tunnel Road, Berkeley

(800) 551-7266

The Peasant & The Pear Come see why chef/owner Rodney Worth was voted “Best Chef 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013” and “Food Award Winner 2009” by the readers of Diablo magazine. Chef Worth’s rustic wine country cuisine showcases seasonal local ingredients, paired with fine wines and friendly, knowledgeable service. Full bar. Private banquet space. Open for lunch and dinner Tues.–Sun. Large courtyard with live music on the weekends. Dogs welcome at outside tables. 267 Hartz Avenue, Danville

(925) 820-6611

Uncle Yu’s Stan Sesser of the San Francisco Chronicle says, “Uncle Yu’s offers some of the best Szechuanese cuisine around. There is a hot-and-sour soup that could win prizes, a wonderful spicy crab when fresh Dungeness crab is in season, and the cuisine is enhanced by the extraordinary decor.” The marriage of casual country French design and Chinese decor completes this ultimate dining experience.

MARIA MARIA Voted Diablo magazine’s Best Mexican Restaurant in the East Bay, Maria Maria will take you on a full dining exploration of inspired Mexican dishes, fresh margaritas, and alluring ambiance. From birthdays, showers, private group dining, and catering, we can accommodate any event. Take advantage of daily promotions like Taco Tuesday and Sangria Sunday while enjoying live music on the patio. (925) 820-2366 710 Camino Ramon, Danville 1470 N. Broadway, Walnut Creek (925) 946-1010

Chevalier After serving as executive chef for award-winning restaurants in Paris, St. Tropez, and San Francisco, Philippe Chevalier comes to the East Bay as chef/owner of Chevalier Restaurant. Serving classic French cuisine inspired by the flavors of Provence, Chevalier is a Michelin Bib Gourmand award-winner, Open Table Diner’s Choice Award, Zagat Rated, awarded Best Chef of the East Bay, and named one of the Top 10 Best Restaurants of the East Bay by Diablo magazine. Experience Chevalier’s French ambiance for dinner Tues.–Sun.

960 Moraga Road, Lafayette

(925) 275-1818 (925) 283-1688 (925) 449-7000

(925) 385-0793

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Sasa Located in the iconic 100-year-old location of the original Walnut Creek Meat Market, Sasa features Japanese influenced “Izakaya” cuisine. Chefs Philip Yang and Sam Castro have created an innovative menu that combines mouthwatering flavors, textures, and selections that satisfy the most sophisticated palates. Sasa restaurant now offers catering, both on and off-site, with seasonal menu selections, flawless service, and attentive planning to create a truly memorable event. Contact for your next event. (925) 210-0188 1432 North Main Street, Walnut Creek

2005 Crow Canyon Place, San Ramon 999 Oak Hill Road, Lafayette 39 South Livermore Avenue, Livermore

diablo dining guide

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MELO’S PIZZA & PASTA is a Contra Costa Landmark, featuring contemporary and innovative pizza, pasta, and Italian dishes. Family owned and operated for 40 years, we use only fresh, wholesome foods carefully prepared in the Italian fashion with a California twist. We have many vegetarian and gluten free options to choose from and no microwaves are ever used! Come taste the tradition. 1660 Contra Costa Boulevard, Pleasant Hill 6580 Lone Tree Way, Brentwood 4433 First Street, Livermore

(925) 687-1880 (925) 626-3773 (925) 371-4499

Kawa sushi Kawa Sushi serves the finest and freshest seafood, steaks, and ingredients in the region with a commitment to quality and customer service. Enjoy beautiful sushi rolls or entertain in our teppanyaki exhibition kitchen, where chefs prepare appetizers and entrées right at your table. Call today to reserve your teppanyaki birthday party or special occasion dinner. For groups of 50 or more call Nijo Castle located at 39888 Balentine Drive (next to the Hilton) in Newark at (510) 657-NIJO (6456). 2180 Third Street, Livermore

(925) 606-7222

The Dead Fish Enjoy alfresco dining on a delightful outdoor heated and cooled patio with lush plants and twinkling lights while taking in sweeping views of the Carquinez Bridge and San Pablo Bay. In addition to its spectacular vistas, The Dead Fish features prime rib and Dungeness crab, as well as a very creative brunch. Full bar and specialty cocktails. Open daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. “We may have a funny name, but we’re dead serious about our food.” 20050 San Pablo Avenue, Crockett

(510) 787-3323

THE VILLAGE CAFÉ Located in the Village Oaks Shopping Center in Martinez, the Village Café features American comfort food favorites with an elegant twist. From our artisanal burgers and our ahi steak sandwich to our hand-battered French toast and home made potato chips, we use only the freshest ingredients. Independently owned and operated, the Village Café strives to make all customers, regulars and first-timers alike, feel like family. Open daily from 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m. 1135 Arnold Street, Suite A, Martinez

(925) 372-5537

Gianni’s italian bistro

Gianni’s is opening for lunch in October! Take a delicious trip to Italy–without leaving the East Bay! Italy native Gianni Bartoletti–founder and former owner of Incontro, and winner of three Diablo magazine food awards–has crafted a menu of fine Italian dishes with a creative twist that showcases fresh, seasonal ingredients. Enjoy a contemporary bistro atmosphere while our friendly and attentive staff preserves that old world charm. Buon Appetito! (925) 820-6969 2065 San Ramon Valley Boulevard, San Ramon 124 October 2013

Back Forty Texas BBQ People’s Choice winner—“2012 Nugget” rib cookoff. Back Forty’s award-winning Texas BBQ favorites have delighted diners since 1978. The family-friendly Roadhouse and Saloon serves up authentic Austin, Texas recipes, made fresh from scratch daily. Enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday. Host your next event in our large banquet facility. Curbside carryout makes bringing Texas to your dining room easy. Full-service catering, patio dining, and full bar available. 100 Coggins Drive, Pleasant Hill

(925) 935-1440

Prima A nationally acclaimed Italian restaurant featuring modern Italian cuisine by executive chef/owner Peter Chastain. Prima offers warm and professional service, an award-winning 1,500-selection wine list, the finest artisan cocktails, sidewalk/patio dining, and private dining rooms for special parties or corporate events. Now in its 36th year! Voted Best Italian and Best Fine Dining Restaurant by Diablo magazine. Lunch Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Dinner daily from 5 p.m. Reservations suggested. Convenient parking with valet and validated public lots. 1522 North Main Street (downtown), Walnut Creek

(925) 935-7780

44 Church Street, Danville

(925) 820-7200

Ca’ Momi enoteca, pizzeria, and pasticceria is a Michelin-recommended, chef- and winemaker-owned, Italian restaurant in Oxbow Market, Napa. Ca’ Momi is the only Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified pizzeria, and only Ospitalità Italiana certified restaurant in the North San Francisco Bay Area. Every dish is an expression of our identity: “Obsessively Authentic Italian.” Offering a full menu, award-winning wines, organic Italian pastries, and patio dining. Open daily from 7:30 a.m. 610 1st Street, Napa

(707) 257- 4992

60 Crescent Drive, Pleasant Hill

(925) 849-6195

The Pear Southern Bistro Located at the beautiful downtown riverfront in Napa, is Pear Restaurant Group’s latest creation, The Pear Southern Bistro. The menu Chef Rodney Worth created is his homage to what he calls “southern comfort food” where our guests dine on culinary delights found in Louisiana and other parts of the Deep South. Pulled pork and po’ boy sandwiches, chicken and dumplings, seafood creole, and gumbo ya-ya are just a few of the delicious items to choose from. Complete your experience with patio dining overlooking the Napa River. 720 Main Street, Napa

(707) 256-3900

Crooked Vine Winery Winery is a family owned and operated winery and vineyard. Located in the beautiful Livermore Valley Wine Country and offering a uniquely intimate winery setting. At Crooked Vine Winery, our unique settings feature beautifully landscaped grounds and stunning views of the vineyards. Our facility and award-winning wines ensure that your visit will be truly remarkable. Open from 11:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon–Sat, and 12 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Sun. Venue available for weddings and special events. 4948 Tesla Road, Livermore

(925) 449-0458

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BRIDGES RESTAURANT AND BAR Brunch is served! Kick off your weekend with creative, savory brunch dishes and morning cocktails. Relax in Bridges’ main dining room, tranquil and beautiful garden patio, or enjoy the energy of the contemporary bar and lounge. Executive Chef Kevin Gins’ seasonal menu reflects fresh, organic selections from local farmers and purveyors. Brunch served Sat.Sun., 11 a.m.-2 p.m., lunch and happy hour Mon.-Fri., dinner served nightly. Live music during brunch and Wed.-Sat. nights. Like us on Facebook!

JACK’S RESTAURANT & BAR Brothers David, John and Chris Marcovici invite you to join them at Jack’s Restaurant and Bar in Pleasant Hill. Voted as Best New Restaurant, Best Patio, and Best Place for an Affordable Lunch in 2011 and Best Outdoor Dining in 2012. Jack’s features contemporary American comfort food with a Greek influence. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, Happy Hour, bar/ lounge with HD TVs, and private rooms.

diablo dining guide

| special adver tising section |

diablo properties special advertising sec tion

The resource for distinctive East Bay homes

Huneeus residence Photography by cesar rubio content provided by aia east bay

diablo properties


gustin and Valeria Huneeus are a vintner and viticulturist who together created the Quintessa Winery Estate designed by Walker Warner Architects. Located in Rutherford, in the heart of Napa Valley, the estate provided a perfect location for the Huneeuses to create a quiet family retreat. They asked Walker Warner Architects to marry their love of the land with the design principles the architects used in the winery; the result was a pastoral retreat that can host wineryrelated events ranging from simple lunches for six up to dinners for 200. As the owners are Chilean, the design references country residences of Central and South America. The L-shaped foot1 2 8 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

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print of the house was designed to create a courtyard surrounding two existing sycamores and to open the house up to views of rolling vineyard hills and an adjacent lake on the estate property. The house’s shape shelters it and the outdoor spaces from road noise coming from nearby Silverado Trail.   Architecture in South America tends to be simple, bold, and graciously scaled. The architects played with these ideas by embellishing the minimal stucco forms of the house with overscaled doors and windows, wood screen walls that serve as room dividers, and clean slatted cabinet doors. All were custom made from afromosia, an African wood similar to teak. Building finishes were derived to complement the surrounding natural palette with spare and unfettered details, appearing generous in scale.

One of the clients’ primary goals was to connect the indoor and outdoor spaces of the house, even in the heat of summer. This required passive cooling solutions that didn’t rely on air conditioning or doors and windows kept shut. “We built the walls with Eco-Block, an insulated concrete-form product that uses rigid foam insulation as the formwork,” explains Greg Warner, AIA. “This was filled with eight inches of concrete that serves as a thermal mass to regulate indoor temperatures by absorbing heat from the sun during the day and releasing it at night. This is an ancient technology used in the old adobe buildings seen in South America. We also used shading devices such as porches, overhangs, shutters, and stucco window surrounds to minimize heat gain through doors and windows.”

special advertising sec tion

diablo properties

Left-to-right: A courtyard surrounds the plaza and is captured as informal interior space. The plaster walls, painted a soft eggshell, subtly highlight the home's dramatic elements.

AIA East Bay is an architectural community spanning the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, and Solano. Our many programs include education for architects and outreach to the community on vital topics, such as sustainable design, earthquake safety, and architect-related issues that focus on how the Bay Area community benefits from well-informed design and development.

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is the #1 real estate team in the San Ramon Valley,* continuing to sell more homes at record breaking prices.

Who do you want to sell your home?


KhristaJarvis team

Top 1% Nationwide

Top 1% Contra Costa County

Top 1% J. Rockcliff Realtors

Number 1 Selling Agent in the

Newly Listed

Newly Listed

Popular Expanded “Skybridge” Home

Highly sought after single story home in Moraga Canyon

216 Helicon Court, San Ramon 5 beds, 3 baths, +/- 2,947 sq. ft. Cul-de-sac location with 1 bd/1 ba downstairs! Views! Open gourmet kitchen with granite counters and Viking appliances. Additional features include harwood floors, plantation shutters, designer paint and so much more! Offered At $1,098,000

218 Rheem Blvd, Moraga 3 beds, 3 baths, plus office, +/-1,944 sq. ft. Park-like & tranquil backyard backs to open space. Perfect for entertaining or relaxing! Features include custom remodeled gourmet kitchen with 48” Wolfe Range, granite and limestone floors. Entire home expanded & redesigned. Offered at $949,950

San Ramon Valley in 2012* •

515 million in sales 2004-2012

55 million Gross Sales in the San Ramon Valley in 2012*

Consistently selling an average of over 1.4 homes per week

Over 600 homes sold since 2004

Over 17 years experience




Stunning Old Ranch Summit Home

Stunning Westside Alamo Home

404 Bridle Court, San Ramon 4 beds, 3.5 baths, plus office, +/- 4,021 sq. ft. Rarely available single story home backs to open space! Highly upgraded with spacious open floor plan & designer touches throughout. Fabulous gourmet kitchen with cherry cabinets, SS appliances, built-in refrigerator & more! Over 13,000 sq. ft. private backyard has built-in BBQ with bar. Offered at $1,450,000

114 Muir Lane, Alamo 6 beds, 5 baths, +/- 5,190 sq. ft. Stunning home on premier street in highly sought after Westside Alamo! Gracious outdoor living & entertaining at it’s finest! 0.65 flat acre with private, lush backyard featuring a gorgeous pool & patio areas. Kitchen with granite, SS appliances, wine refrigerator, hardwood floors throughout. Rebuilt in 2000. Offered at $2,399,000

Put Khrista’s Proven Success to Work for You!

J. Rockcliff

“ Khrista is a strong industry leader/thinker, resourceful and provides full service in the sale and purchase of your home. She understands the market and knows how to lead clients in obtaining the right price/terms for a home.” -Diablo Home Owner


Realtors CA BRE #01213582 * Information provided by © 2013 - 2014Terradatum and its suppliers and licensors (®

“From her stellar reputation, I had high expectations when I hired Khrista to sell my home. She exceeded them! Within days of listing at her recommended asking price, my home sold.” - Danville Home Owner

Top 1% J. Rockcliff Realtors • 32 Years in Real Estate • Closed One Home Every 10 days in 2011 & 2012 Jou jou Chawla Broker Associate President’s Club

(510) 406-4836

Jou Jou Chawla


& A s s o c i at e s

fluent in Hindi, Punjabi

jamey tak

Mary Cribb

(925) 786-3299

(925) 997-1791

fluent in Korean

fluent in Spanish



#1 in Blackhawk in Sold and Active Listings for 2013 5134 Blackhawk Dr. – Represented Buyer


45 Blackhills Pl. – Represented Buyer


4020 Eagle Nest Ln. – Rep. Buyer and Seller


3370 Blackhawk Meadow Dr. – Rep. Seller


SOLD 3177 Blackhawk Meadow Dr. – Rep. Seller



3166 Blackhawk Meadow Dr. – Rep. Seller


637 Blue Spruce – Represented Seller


12 Red Cypress Pl. – Rep. Buyer and Seller

3108 Fox Creek – Represented Seller

387 S. Eagle Nest Ln. – Rep. Buyer and Seller


additional Year-To-Date, Homes Sold in 2013 - 680/24 corridor 190 Mountain Canyon Place, Danville Represented Buyer 141 Tivoli Lane, Danville Represented Seller 2 Meritage Common, Livermore Represented Buyer 640 Bourne Court, Danville Represented Seller 899 Alegre Place, San Jose Represented Seller 2941 Hurlstone Court, Walnut Creek Represented Buyer 1120 Bellingham Square, San Ramon Represented Seller 130 Wittenham Court, San Ramon Represented Buyer and Seller 412 Pine Ridge Drive, San Ramon Represented Buyer 3922 River Bend Terrace, Fremont Represented Seller 605 South Blackbrush, San Ramon Represented Buyer and Seller


2101 Canyon Crest Avenue, San Ramon Represented Buyer 215 Reflections Drive, San Ramon Represented Seller 8187 Briar Oaks Drive, San Ramon Represented Buyer 12 Copenhagan Court, Alamo Represented Buyer 900 Trebbiano Court, Danville Represented Seller 153 South Avenue, Alamo Represented Buyer and Seller 10 Creekledge Court, Danville Represented Buyer and Seller 1199 Montego Drive, Walnut Creek Represented Buyer 940 Redondo Way, Livermore Represented Seller 3144 Barlow Drive, Castro Valley Represented Buyer 65 Woodranch Circle, Danville Represented Buyer 3880 Blackhawk Road, Suite, 200 Danville, CA 94506 US

CA BRE #00890002/ #01851716/ #01866674/ #01153985

Top 1% J. Rockcliff Realtors • 32 Years in Real Estate • Closed One Home Every 10 days in 2011 & 2012 Jou jou Chawla Broker Associate President’s Club

(510) 406-4836

Jou Jou Chawla


& A s s o c i at e s

fluent in Hindi, Punjabi

887 Redwood Drive, Blackhawk

106 Kingswood Circle, Blackhawk

jamey tak

Mary Cribb

(925) 786-3299

(925) 997-1791

fluent in Korean

fluent in Spanish



4331 Quail Run Lane, Blackhawk

featured property

Dramatic golf course views, stunning, decorated to perfection. Beautifully remodeled slab granite kitchen, updatedbaths, soaring ceilings, 3 bd + loft-perfect for office, 2 car & golf cart garage. COMING SOON $1,139,9000

Stunning location, fabulous views! Single story. Light & bright kitchen and family room. Immaculate large luxurious master suite! Three car side entry garage. Gorgeous backyard landscaping by “Matsutani”. COMING SOON $1,019,000

732 Blue Spruce Drive, Blackhawk

411 Bent Oak Place, Blackhawk

What an opportunity! Coveted “C” plan, wonderful upgrades, crown molding, vaulted ceilings, 6” baseboards, large master with huge master closet, wrap around rear deck, new landscaping, walk to school. $669,900

Another Bay Vista masterpiece! Brand new interiors. Elegant one of a kind contemporary! Stunning panoramic views! Exquisite quality and craftsmanship. Fully remodeled estate! Master on first flr, study, bonus rm, 4 bdrm ensuites. All the bells and whistles! An A 10++ $2,699,900

How does one describe a masterpiece built by Black Mountain Development for the owners? Custom in every way, Marvin windows, stunning millwork! Phenomenal kitchen! First floor master, paneled library, upstairs 3 bedrooms, office, bonus room. Seeing is believing! $2,549,900

8 Red Cedar Court, Blackhawk

2324 Saddleback Drive, Blackhawk

347 Jacaranda Drive, Blackhawk

What a buy! English style manor estate 7,230 sq. ft. on 0 .37 acre golf course location. Stunning pool & spa. Unbelievable ballroom, wine cellar & tasting room, library, and 4 bedrooms all en suites. $2,888,000

One-of-a-kind home! $$’s in upgrades including additional bath. Granite kit, magnificent fam rm w/spectacular views! Hrdwd flrs, walls of windows, gorgeous multi-level backyard, refinished pool, outdoor kit, sport court & trek decking. A must see! $1,499,900

Spectacular 3bd/2ba villa on the 9th fairway! Lots of marble, light & bright with new carpet & newer furnace! Wonderful layout! Gorgeous yard with pool and 2 car plus golf cart garage. $819,900

1617 Cavallo Road, Antioch

Four-plex investors dream. SOLD! $399,888


44 Pulido Court, Danville

1829 Capital Drive, Brentwood

Beautiful home with views! PENDING! $1,095,000

Beautiful home in Brentwood. PENDING! $549,900

3880 Blackhawk Road, Suite, 200 Danville, CA 94506 US CA BRE #00890002/ #01851716/ #01866674/ #01153985

A Family Tradition of Excellence

Long Term Success in Helping Home Buyers and Sellers Achieve the American Dream Michele Manzone

Certified Residential Specialist

(925) 253-7028 | CA#BRE: 01028002 •• 2013 President of the West Contra Costa Association of Realtors •• Involved with the Leadership of the California Association of Realtors •• Involved with the Local Association of Realtors •• Degree in Business Administration and Real Estate from Cal State, Hayward •• GRI and active in CAR •• Award-winning top producer specializing in high-end homes, income properties and foreclosures

Leslie Dopp-Manzone

Certified Residential Specialist

(925) 253-7027 | CA#BRE: 01120753 Leslie has thousands of hours of volunteer work. Why? Because “I have a passionate drive to make a difference for all my clients”. —Leslie Dopp-Manozone

•• 2004 Realtor of the Year •• 2006 President of the West Contra Costa Association of Realtors •• Active in the NAR Member •• CAR Director At-Large •• CCAR District 2 Director •• Local Association of Realtors Director for over 20 years •• State Director for over 20 years •• Women’s Council of Realtor for over 20 years •• Involved with the Leadership of the California Association of Realtors •• WCR Member •• Earned GRI, CRS and CDPE designations

The Manzone Team is at the #1 brokerage in the East Bay specializing in residential real estate. They have sold more than one billion dollars worth of real estate in the East Bay. This team’s long-term success is not only a testament to their skill, but derives from a true passion for the business. Put their 25 years of experience to work for you! If you are thinking of selling or finding the perfect home for you and your family, contact the Manzone Team today!


Specializing the Lamorinda Area

4 Oak aRBOR ROad, ORinda

This magnificent 1937 New England Farm house was designed & built by the renowned architect Henry Gutterson… a 6900± sq. ft. home long coveted by local Orindans. This breathtaking home exudes casual elegance perfectly balanced with modern day conveniences. Ideally set on a private 1.1±AC level lot with beautiful landscaping, a sparkling pool and an abundance of fabulous entertaining areas. This property presents a rare opportunity to own one of the finest homes in Orinda. • Offered at $4,900,000

15 nORthRidGE LanE, LafayEttE inG COM

3345 ROwLand dRivE, LafayEttE



Nearly 6000± sq. ft. of elegant single level living on a breathtaking 0.75±AC flat knoll top with spectacular Lafayette views & excellent Happy Valley Schools (check availability). Community pool & Tennis are just a few of the perks here!

Darling 3BR/2BA single-story home on a gorgeous level acre nestled at the end of a quiet, close in cul-de-sac in Reliez Valley. Live here & enjoy, or build the home of your dreams. Either way… this is the perfect place to call home. • Offered at $2,695,000 • Offered at $1,495,000

Chris Swim & Tracy Keaton BRE# 00943989 | 01051349

925.766.1447 |

A Member of Real Living

Contra Costa Collection Danville 925.743.9330 | Lafayette 925.444.4300 | Orinda 925.258.0090 | | A Member of Real Living

Orinda, 4 Oak Arbor Road $4,900,000

Danville, 415 Cliffside Drive $3,495,000

Chris Swim & Tracy Keaton, 925.766.1447

Caroline & Jack Schlendorf, 925.997.3966

Blackhawk, 4440 Deer Ridge Road $2,150,000

Danville, 24 Diamond Drive $1,500,000

Caroline & Jack Schlendorf, 925.997.3966

Jeff & Jan Bruno, 925.789.0987

Oakland, 6631 Glen Oaks Way $989,000

Martinez, 209 Augustine - PENDING! $549,000

Jeannie Anderson, 925.586.6621

Caroline & Jack Schlendorf, 925.997.3966

Lafayette, 15 Northridge Lane $2,695,000

Orinda, 59 Cedar Terrace $2,499,000

Chris Swim & Tracy Keaton, 925.766.1447

Jeannie Anderson, 925.586.6621

Lafayette, 3345 Rowland Drive $1,495,000

Walnut Creek, 101 Rudgear Drive $1,399,000

Chris Swim & Tracy Keaton, 925.766.1447

Caroline & Jack Schlendorf, 925.997.3966

Orinda, 38 Heather Lane - SOLD! $1,675,000

Moraga, 86 Sullivan Drive - SOLD! $1,185,000

Paul & Virginia Ratto, 925.998.9501

Paul & Virginia Ratto, 925.998.9501

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A Luxury Experience. . .

104 Muir Lane, Westside Alamo

17th century French Country inspired home. Details and finish work beyond comparison and an award winning yard and pool. Approximately 7000 square of exceptional living space situated on a lot of approximately 2/3 acre in size. Offered at $4,375,000

Dana & Paul Weiler Partners, Broker Associates (925) 998-8470 |

1941 Alameda Diablo, Diablo

Completely updated, single level ranch home that is close to Diablo Country Club. This 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath home has been beautifully updated with the finest finishes. The flat lot offers lush landscaping, pool, backs to the creek and offers great outdoor entertaining areas. Offered at $2,150,000.

Marilee Headen Realtor® (925) 330-2380 |

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with so many buyers and sellers in the Diablo Valley. My success is a reflection

Thank You! of your confidence in me!

To view my newest listing go to

MJ St. Jean, MBA | Realtor® (925) 984-6466

© Empire Realty Associates. This information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed, is subject to change, and is provided for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use.

For Every Client, Every Time!

1475 Vine Lane, Alamo

Brand new construction inside! Main house has 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 2 half baths, 3 floors and a full finished basement! Pool house has I bed, I bath, and darling living room. 3rd building is 2 story with garage/shop on ground floor and dwelling upstairs. Offered at $2,695,000.

Robin Miles JD, Partner (925) 998-3098 |

270 Arency Court, Danville

European Inspired. Home includes attached jaw dropping luxury showroom & lounge. Imported Conservatory. 1.1 flat acres. Award winning English Gardens. Self sustaining. Custom craftsmanship throughout. Sold with furnishings. Offered at $3,437,500

Vikki Bearman, Realtor® (925) 708-0008 |

Representing the most discerning properties in the Diablo Valley,

Lamorinda and Tri-Valley areas. We would be pleased to share our home selling strategies with you. Please call us. 3150 Reed Avenue, Livermore

5 Bedrooms | 4.5 Baths | Approx. 4400 SqFt Fabulous custom home, horse facilities and endless views of vineyards and rolling hills make this spacious home the best of all worlds! Situated on approximately 4.78 acres. Offered at $1,995,000

Tracy Pisenti, Partner (925) 487-4436 |

w w w. E m p i r e R e a l t y. c o m

© Empire Realty Associates. This information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed, is subject to change, and is provided for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use.

Fire on the Mountain It burned so angrily. That’s the way I would describe it. I had a huge responsibility to stop the fire. I am the only Cal Fire battalion chief in this county, and we are here for these people—especially the people of Morgan Territory and Marsh Creek. I know all those people by name out there. They look at us, and they look to me, to provide them fire protection and make sure they’re safe, and that they don’t lose their property they’ve worked so hard for. Up in a helicopter, it’s very daunting. Because you’re up there, and you’re looking down, and

(continued from 39)

“The scary part of Mount Diablo is that the mountain is going to burn how it wants to, and we just needed to push it where we wanted it to go.”

Walnut Creek, CA

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you’re thinking, “Where could I even begin to stop this thing?” It’s almost an overwhelming feeling. The scary part of Mount Diablo is that the mountain is going to burn how it wants to, and we just needed to push it where we wanted it to go. The wind changes up there every day, and when you’re on the back side of that, you can’t tell what’s going to happen. The last big fire on the mountain was in 1977, and it burned down toward Clayton. Before that, the last known fire was in 1931. That’s a tremendous amount of fuel on the mountain. The biggest fear for life and property has always been the Danville and Alamo side because homes encroach so far onto the mountain. An equal threat, though, exists on the Morgan Territory side, which is where the fire did burn this time. Initially, we thought it’d be about 6,500 acres. When fighting fires, we draw a box and pick four roads we’re going to keep the fire within, and then that’s how we evaluate and manage what we’re doing. We wanted to keep it south of Morgan Territory, west of Marsh Creek, north of Curry Canyon, and east of North Peak road. Luckily, in this case, we were able to make that box smaller. Am I glad it’s over? Yeah, I am. Nobody got hurt. We had a couple of firefighter injuries, but nothing serious. No major property was lost. But the most complex part is just starting. Right now, the fire is all but contained, but I have a new sixth-month project. We’re moving into the rehabilitation part, which is complicated because we want to ensure that our friends at the state park, and the citizens who use the park, come back to a park in the natural state it was in before the fire. Our battle now is to take the control lines we had to put in to stop the fire and rehabilitate so we don’t have erosion. Flooding is one of our worries because when fire burns so hot, the land becomes hard, and water doesn’t absorb: It runs over it. But there are a lot of great scientists from the park and Cal Fire that are working together. This is what they do. It’s going to take a while. It may take years for vegetation to regrow. But I think spring and the wildflowers will be fabulous. The deer will come back; the wild pigs will come back; the snakes, the spiders, the frogs. ■

to get equipment in place and direct crews, dozers, water tenders, and engines. Basically, just trying to get hundreds of people on the fire line. We also had to know exactly where everyone and everything was at: That’s an important thing in the fire service. You can’t just have people roaming around. You can’t just see something and go attack it. You have to be given an assignment, know who you’re working for, and who is working for you. By the time it was dark, there were at least 100 firefighters on the mountain, in just my division alone. We spent the night trying to keep the fire up on the mountain, and prevent it from coming down and impacting the homes on Morgan Territory. We were there from the start of the fire until about 2 o’clock the next day, more than 24 hours. They couldn’t let us leave until more resources came in to replace us. And those people had to get here, get their assignments, go get gas, get fed, and drive out to the mountain. We took turns sleeping for a couple of hours here and there, when we could, in the dirt. During those long hours, some people sleep in the engine if they’re tired enough, or some guys will open the hose beds on the engine and sleep on the hose. I felt such a responsibility to stop this thing. Your training kicks in, and you just start doing what you were trained to do. But at some point, you stop and look around at what’s happening. I felt good about what was going on, but at the same time, I almost felt like we failed, even though there was no way we could slow it down, with those fuel conditions and the weather and the way the fire was burning. So instead of trying to stop the fire, we were just trying to stop it from burning people’s property and burning people.

(continued from 40)

“I know every firefighter that was working around me had feet that were blistered and bleeding and sore to the point where it almost hurt to stand up.” We threw a lot of resources at it, and we were very aggressive in putting the fire out, and that’s why it was almost contained within four days. At the highest point, we had 1,352 firefighters up there. I’ve hiked Mount Diablo before, and some of the terrain is the worst for fire. It’s steep, rocky, with heavy fuels, brush, poison oak—just nasty stuff. There is lots of stuff up there that can fall and basically hurt or kill you, if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. After we finally got some rest, I know every firefighter that was working around me had feet that were blistered and bleeding and sore to the point where it almost hurt to stand up. It’s been so long since a fire has burned on that mountain, and everyone thought they knew what was going to happen if it were to catch fire. But now that we have a picture in our slideshow of where we can stop it or how it’s going to behave at night, it’ll help with our decision making in the future, if this were to happen again. ■

Winner of Diablo Magazine’s Best SAT Prep Course


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Coming Soon: Walnut Creek Food&Drink Shopping&Fashion Recreation&Fun Night Life&Culture



13-17 NOVEMBER 2013

NAPAVALLEYFILMFEST.ORG Save 10% off the Festival Pass (films, panels,

Don’t forget to visit

winetasting) or Pass Plus (add parties and events) with discount code DIABLO at D ia blo 141





Participate in carnival games

Visit learning stations and the Pleasant Hill Library’s reading area

Enjoy fall and garden crafts

Vote for your favorite scarecrow Plants Available for Sale 30% off

1552 Bancroft Road, Walnut Creek

thank you

(925) 944-9352





JKL Construction Services, Inc.

Bay Commercial Bank Bell Investments C&H Development Consolidated Engineering Laboratories Donn C. Gilmore & Assoc. Hinman Consulting Engineers, Inc. Brad Holsworth - BPM LBA Realty RGW Painting & General Contractor Singer Associates, Inc. Studio Blue Transwestern Young Electric Company

Black Jack Hole - Burr Pilger Mayer - BPM Bloody Mary Bar - Preston Pipelines Closest To The Pin - Condon-Johnson & Associates Closest To The Pin - LogoBoss Dinner - Bay Alarm Entertainment - Terranomics Retail Services Golf Cart - Ted Jacob Engineering Group Margarita Bar - Cornish & Carey Commericial-Newmark Knight Frank – Gwen White Margarita Bar - Cahill Contractors, Inc. Men’s Longest Drive - Republic Services Musical Entertainment - Mr. Jon Elder & Ms. Muriel Fore Putting Contest - Rutherford & Chekene Volunteer Host - Colliers International Women’s Longest Drive - Shamzad Group


GOLD SPONSORS Albert D. Seeno, Jr. Family Foundation Anderson Carpet & Linoleum Sales Co., Inc. Balfour Beatty Construction CLEO Construction Management Cumberland Consulting Group Dave’s Killer Bread Give Something Back Office Products J. Stokes & Associatess Jones Lang LaSalle McCarthy/SASCO Nexus PetersenDean Roofing & Solar Sleepy Hollow Investments State Roofing Systems TAYLOR & Associates Architects, Inc. Turner Construction Company W.L. Butler Construction, Inc. XL Construction

BRONZE SPONSORS Adams & Taylor Mr. Anthony Black Huey Marketing MyOfficeProducts Peacock Construction, Inc. Sj Engineers

TEE SPONSORS Black Box Network Services Oakland A’s Community Fund Regency Centers Sequoia Realty Services Shamrock Office Solutions, Inc. Sports Basement Valbridge Property Advisors

see you at Score 2014!

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ON-COURSE IN-KIND DONORS BC Massage Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine Mr. Morgan Davies Dirito Brothers Drakes Brewing Company El Paisa Taco Truck Fuddruckers Il Pavone It’s It Ice Cream Treat Karen Bevels Custom Catering Kinder’s Meats & BBQ Metro Lafayette Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Scott’s Seafood Walnut Creek Mr. Stuart Yoshida - Long Drive Competitor



Linking Hearts

Have You Been Waiting to Sell?


Enjoy a very special evening of gourmet eats by Patrick David, unlimited wine, and entertainment!

TLC’s 4th Annual

Benefit Concert and Auction Lafayette Events Center at Veterans Memorial Hall 3780 Mount Diablo Blvd, Lafayette Thursday, November 7, 2013, 6–9pm (doors open at 5:30) Tickets: $60 Ticket info: 510-428-2028 or

DRE# 01875289

the time may be right to list your home.

The Link to Children provides crisis intervention and ongoing trauma informed therapy to children and their families in Alameda county. TLC also provides early childhood mental health consultation to help young children achieve the best social, emotional and educational outcomes possible.

janna Chestnut “Your realtor for life.”

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We Thank Our Sponsors:

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The California Independent Film Festival and Diablo Magazine present

ALIEN Thursday October 10th 7:00PM at The Orinda Theatre

N NTOW FREE D O W AT IN G & L A Z A R T R E IN T H E P O K T R IC R M O V IE E R 2 5 T H D OaOReason Realtors Recommended C T O B :0 0 P M O U Tfor 4 AY, O R IZ E F R ID N IN G AT E–P B E G IN C O S T U M IN E M CO

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2 MILE FUN RUN 8:00AM • 5K RUN 8:30AM • 10K RUN 8:45AM Realtors Recommended for a Reason

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l ua



n An

Wheels for Meals Ride

October 19, 2013

A benefit ride through the beautiful Livermore Valley, in support of homebound seniors

Three Routes

Family Friendly

15 Miles 35 Miles 70 Miles

Fully Supported BBQ Lunch & LIVE MUSIC

ior s

WWhe MOctho eels fo Fee b din ea erelr M gH l 19 s ea s om s , 20Flo ebo R 1 Ride i 3r un dS d en e


save Mount diaBlo’s MoonliGHt on tHe Mountain sPonsor the international Brotherhood of electrical Workers local 302 co-sPonsored By chevron Golden eaGle Partners dave & dana dornsife Garaventa enterprises Hall equities shell summerHill Homes tesoro

Gold sPonsors Bob & Joan Marx charla Gabert & david Frane Jeanne thomas KB Homes Mechanics Bank Phillips 66 union Bank

PereGrine Falcon Partners aaa casa real cass east Bay regional Park district

silver sPonsors Bank of the West contra costa association of realtors diablo analytical, inc dow Gagen Mccoy Performance Mechanical Plumbers & steamfitters union local 159

anniversary Partners concord Feed expert tree service Mt. diablo state Park rei treadwell & rollo

BronZe sPonsors lsa associates Minuteman Press lafayette sunset development

Media sPonsors dinner & Wine sPonsors contra costa times livermore valley Wine association diablo Magazine sunrise Bistro & catering

Youth Homes Presents

hearts for hope S ave t he D ate! join us in celebration

OCTOBER 30, 2013 6—9 p.m.

Concord Hilton 1970 Diamond Blvd, Concord

Contra Costa Leadership in Sustainability

Awards Gala & Fundraiser for Sustainable Contra Costa

Reserve your tickets online today!


oin us for a wonderful night of collaboration, food, wine, music and mingling with inspiring business, government and sustainability leaders.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Gala in the following categories:  Community Groups & Non-profits  Government  Educational Institutions & Programs  Small Businesses

 NEW! Green Building Awards  Individuals  Large Businesses & Corporations

An evening benefitting foster youth. Please join us Saturday, October 19th, 2013 @ 5:30 pm at the Diablo Country Club. For more information or to purchase tickets call (925) 933-2627 or go to Hearts for Hope Event Benefactors: Libby & Tom Edwards Diamond Benefactors: R. Ken & Donna M. Coit and Mr. Mark Hanna

media sponsor Congressman Miller presenting the Individual Leader Award to Janet Thomas at the 2012 Gala Awards

1 4 4 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

Join STAND! For Families Free of Violence for the 21st Annual

An inspirational afternoon celebrating survivors, advocates, and the life-saving work of STAND! For Families Free of Violence.

FEATURING Don McPherson athlete, activist, feminist

Presenting Foundation Sponsor: Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation Leaders: Chevron ● Joe Mullen, Jr. Benefactors: AT&T ● Charles Schwab ● Concord Honda ● John Muir Health Kaiser Permanente ● Mechanics Bank ● Miller Starr Regalia Sponsor: Travis Credit Union Magazine Sponsor: Diablo Magazine

Cheryl Jennings ABC7 News Anchor

(partial list)

Thursday, October 24, 2013 12:00 - 1:30 pm

Concord Hilton ● 1970 Diamond Blvd ● Concord

(925) 603-0138 ●

17 th Annual Golf Tournament • Round Hill Country Club

Da n A sh ley ’s

Join us!

Friends of Camp Concord Golf Tournament

Oct. 13 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013 Celebrity Host Dan Ashley, ABC-7 News

Thank You to All Our Friends and Sponsors!

Because of you we can provide scholarships and support funding to send underserved children/families and special needs communities to experience Camp Concord Summer Camp in South Lake Tahoe. LEAD SPONSORS INCLUDE:


The Moore Family Advanced Printing Anthem National Accounts Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Dan & Spalding Ashley Black Rock Cornerstone Printing Dublin Chevron Earl Goldman Foundation

Fidelity Investments Fremont Bank Jim and Lisel Greenfield Jorge Santana Nelson Staffing Oakland Athletics Prosperity Financial Group Standard Iron and Metal Company The Townsley Foundation

Please support these businesses that are making a difference in our community!

1/2 Marathon • 5K Race • 5K Fun Run/Walk (Both races certified by USA Track & Field) D ia blo 145

Frame: CaSaNDra

defining eyewear

1 4 6 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

334 Hartz Avenue, Danville Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. 925-406-4887


by peter crooks | parties | society | glamour | nightlife



courtesy of family paths (1–5); courtesy of robert gundrey (wente vineyards)

1—Aimee Allison, John Chisholm; 2—Sarah Kim, Shay Black; 3—Singer Lavay Smith; 4—Jeff and Karen Tenzer; 5—Erica Brooks, Colin Muson. Music |

Wente Concerts



Multiplatinum recording star Martina McBride played her first-ever show at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, as part of the winery’s popular outdoor concert series. Pictured: Martina McBride, Robert Gundrey.

Gala Jamboree |

Fabulous ’40s


Family Paths transformed Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion into a swingin’ nightclub with its inaugural gala. The event raised more than $50,000 to provide mental health and therapy services to East Bay families affected by domestic abuse. D ia blo 147


Foodie Frenzy |

Gourmet Gallop Fourteen Walnut Creek restaurants and businesses served food and drinks at Diablo Ballet’s Gourmet Gallop. The party raised $9,000 for the ballet company’s 20th anniversary season, and featured Steinway Piano’s Justin Levitt performing a concert inside the Bonanza Street music store.






Celebrity Signing |

Stan Lee in Concord Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee made a special appearance at Flying Colors Comics in Concord to sign comics and meet fans. The city of Concord proclaimed the day Stan Lee Day.

1 4 8 o ct o b e r 2 0 1 3

courtesy of diablo ballet (1–5); samantha schneider

1—Mayo Sugano; 2—Chef Ryan Geiser of Massimo; 3—Sylvia Perfetto, Maddalena Farinati; 4—Jordi Simms, Althea Walker, and partygoer; 5—Anna Hoyt of Peet’s Coffee.


Be There


Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer headlines On Broadway, a black-tie benefit for the performing arts. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek, 5 p.m., $300, (925) 295-1470,

—10/12 1


Support German Shepherd Rescue of Northern California at Wags to Riches, a party featuring hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Shrine Event Center, 170 Lindbergh Ave., Livermore, 4 p.m., $50, (800) 728-3473,


Join music director Michael Morgan at Spinning Silver into Gold, a black-tie gala celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Oakland East Bay Symphony. University Club Penthouse at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, 6 p.m., $375, (510) 444-0801, Ext. 317,

Wild Party |

Oakland Zoo Dozens of Bay Area food and drink professionals brought their treats to Walk in the Wild, an annual party that benefits the Oakland Zoo. Partygoers mingled near giraffes and elephants, and raised $220,000 for the zoo’s conservation and education programs, as well as general animal care.



Hit Mount Diablo’s trails to help the homeless at Hike for Shelter, benefiting Shelter, Inc. of Contra Costa County. Mt. Diablo State Park, hikes begin at 8 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., $50, (925) 335-0698,



1—Maureen and Don Perata, Janet and John Loh; 2—Guests enjoy Weibel wine at Flamingo Plaza; 3—Rob Bonta, Dr. Joel Parrott, Liam Mayclem, Bill Quirk; 4—Peggy and Michael Desler; 5—Faz Restaurant offers house-made chips to guests. 1 5 0 O CT O b e r 2 0 1 3

courtesy of oakland zoo

For more Faces galleries, visit


o c t o b e r spec i al offers & events from d i ablo advert i sers & P artners

CCo and Crow Canyon Medical Center’s Fall Open House

As part of its continued efforts to offer full medical oncology and hematology services in the East Bay, Contra Costa Oncology (CCO) recently opened the doors to its new, state-of-the-art medical oncology office in the Crow Canyon Medical Center. CCO and Crow Canyon Medical Center will showcase the newly completed Medical Center with an open house on October 30 from 5–7 p.m.

Medical Anesthesia Consultants (MAC) Dr. Vankova and Dr. Pabst both received their anesthesiology training at U.C. San Francisco. A significant amount of their practice is devoted to providing sedation at endoscopy centers. An increasing number of clinics use the services of anesthesiologists to provide sedation for colonoscopies and endoscopies, as they deliver superior comfort, satisfaction, and safety for patients. MAC is the Bay Area’s leading provider of anesthesia in endoscopy centers. Before your colonoscopy or endoscopy, ask if a MAC anesthesiologist will be taking care of you.

our open houses

Bentley School, a K–12 coeducational independent day school with campuses in Oakland (K–8) and Lafayette (9–12), invite you to attend open houses on the following dates: October 26 for Kindergarten, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. in Oakland and grades 9–12 from 1–4 p.m. in Lafayette, November 9 for K–8 from 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. in Oakland and grades 9–12 from 1–4 p.m. in Lafayette. RSVP to admissions.

1320 El Capitan Drive, Suite 330, Danville (925) 939-9610,

2420 Camino Ramon, Ste 270, San Ramon (925) 543-0140,

Oakland Campus: 1 Hiller Drive, (510) 843-2512 Lafayette Campus: 1000 Upper Happy Valley Road (925) 283-2101

Gourmet East Bay November 2, 7 p.m.

Party for the Arts at On Broadway

22nd Annual Danville Fall Crafts Festival

Come eat, drink, and party at the event of the year! Presented by Diablo magazine and Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek, this delicious event features offerings from dozens of restaurants, wineries, and breweries, and dancing to the tunes of the East Bay’s premier party band, Take 2. Proceeds benefit Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano and Project Open Hand. More information and tickets are available online.

Join the Diablo Regional Arts Association on October 5th for On Broadway, the East Bay’s hottest fundraising event that supports arts and educational programs at the Lesher Center. The evening features silent and live auctions and an exquisite sit-down dinner under a stylish tent. A stunning entertainment line-up features Ana Gasteyer, from Saturday Night Live, and two dance party bands—Martini Straight Up and Night Fever. For information visit us online or call.

This family-friendly event, co-sponsored by the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Danville, will be held in beautiful downtown Danville along Hartz Avenue on October 26–27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Highlights include 200 talented artisans, the ever-popular glass pumpkin patch, children’s costume parade, prospect avenue activities, entertainment, great food, and beverages. Admission and parking are free.

(925) 295-1470,

(925) 837-4400,

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Your monthly guide to digital and social Diablo.

In Your Words Readers Get Crafty

Costume Contest

What’s New on the Diablo Style Blog

Being on trend is fab, but clothes that fit and flatter are important, too. Style editor Caitlin McCulloch will show you what types of fall fashions look best on bodies of different shapes and sizes.

On Facebook and Twitter, we asked: What homemade item are you most proud of? “Hand-painted, brightly colored terra-cotta pots (one by me and one by my daughter), in which we planted succulents.” —Cynthia E. Webster

“My camp stool!” —Aaron DeVera

Blog for Us!

“My dad made my boys wooden items. The oldest received a handmade wooden rocking horse, the youngest a wooden chest that is placed at the end of his bed.”

Diablo is looking for bloggers. If you are a writer with an expertise in the worlds of East Bay food, style, or education, let’s talk. Send an e-mail to skennelly@diablopubs. com for more info.

—Isabel Lau

“Designing our backyard and then seeing it come to life.” —Walter Muller

Always on Weekly Dish What’s in Store Top Tickets Education Blog Instagram Snaps of the Week Full Dining Listings Database More Faces Photo Galleries Story Archives

On the Go

Get the latest East Bay scoop anywhere, with our free mobile and tablet apps, Diablo Radar and Diablo Magazine HD, available for Apple and Android devices.


“Homemade organic raspberry jam.”

Tweet, like, and share photos and feedback with us at @diablomagazine!

—Angie Lewis Snoberger

“I am proud of the wedding invitation I conceptualized and executed.”


—Nicole Axon

“My ‘new to me’ kitchen.”

“Cookies made using very old hand-carved wood molds found in secondhand shops in Switzerland. Each one tells a story from the carving and about bakers in the past who used them.” —Amy Landolt Eber

“A Choose Your Own Adventure– style book I made in sixth grade for a Mother’s Day gift.” —Jennifer Kathleen

“My daughter and my pickled vegetables.” —Susan Rizer

152 october 2013

It’s time for our Halloween costume contest. We’re on the hunt for the cutest, scariest, and most creative costumes in the East Bay. Upload your photos at, or use the hashtag #DiabloHalloween on Instagram to show us what you’ve got. Winners get bragging rights and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Submissions are due by October 31 at midnight.


Behind the Scenes

Follow the Diablo editors’ adventures around the East Bay on Instagram, as we scope out businesses and events for future stories. These tacos from Pleasanton’s Cocina Mexico were part of our delicious November Food Issue research. Follow us at @diablomagazine for more shots.



left to right: kristie trippy; leeanne jones

—Kim Six

Family owned since 19 69

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Featuring Over 50 brands, including: Artistica (pictured) | Henredon | Century | Tommy Bahama | Drexel Heritage | Bernhardt From flooring and lighting to mattresses and window coverings, we combine complimentary in-home design service with everyday discount pricing. No other design center can offer the service that is Cole’s Interiors. 14,000 sq. ft. showroom open to the trade and public.

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Diablo Magazine October 2013