alley & vine is a Welcome Addition to Alameda’s Vibrant Park St.May 20, 2022 02:13PM ● By Fran Miller
The logo-embossed ice cube that floats in my petal pink alley & vine ‘Place Your Bets’ cocktail is a harbinger of the meal that will soon follow. Such attention to detail bodes well for all items on the menu, and just as I am delighted with my bourbon, strawberry, Cocchi Rosa and mint concoction, so too am I with each of my selected dishes.
alley & vine co-owners Casey Hunt and Francisco Bazo (who first crossed paths at San Francisco’s Waterbar) opened their Alameda eatery in January, 2021, in what many would consider a very questionable time period for the hospitality industry. Their gamble has more than paid off; grateful neighbors and community members – as well as out of towners – have discovered the convivial ambiance of alley & vine’s ‘just off of Park St.’ patio and dining room, aptly named for its location along a twinkle-lit, Trumpet Vine-arbored alley way. Bazo and Hunt spent months scouring locations in Berkeley and Oakland before settling on this spot in Bazo’s home town. The rewarding aspect of feeding his friends and neighbors, many of whom have become regulars, is not lost on Bazo, who, with Chef de Cuisine Zack Boyer (also from Waterbar, as well as Farallon) recently created a ‘Three Course Thursday’ menu in honor of repeat guests, in order to provide a bit of variety. On this visit, the $49 offering included Zack’s Pepper Jack Mac N’ Cheese, Mesquite Smoked Pork Ribs with braised greens and mashed potatoes, and Banana Pudding. Add a beverage pairing for $25.
With their deep Bay Area restaurant roots, Hunt, Bazo, and Boyer have the connections and relationships to gather the best seasonal ingredients. Boyer, for instance, is regularly invited by Deborah Keane of California Caviar Co. to source his own selections from her sustainable tanks and ponds – the alley & vine menu item of which is a bespoke serving of California White Sturgeon caviar featuring pain de mie, preserved onion, chive crème fraiche and lightly pickled cucumbers. For a mere sample, try the smaller ‘Taste’ option served on a buttermilk biscuit with chives.
Lest the caviar options intimidate, rest assured the alley & vine menu offers something for everyone. Burger lovers will gravitate to a&v’s version with cheddar, bacon, chipotle bbq sauce, and steak fries. A Bone-In Pork Chop and a Roasted Filet of Beef further satiate the meat eaters. A Local King Salmon and a seasonal risotto dish round out the mains. The Oysters on the Half Shell starter adds an elegant touch, as does the Phyllo-Wrapped Locarno Brie with fuji apples, apple butter, pecans, and honey.
Bazo, a certified sommelier who serves as beverage director, has curated a great list of wines by the bottle and glass, featuring many Napa Valley and Sonoma favorites as well as several fine French, and Italian finds. The creative cocktails are as picturesque as they are tasty – each expertly crafted with house made shrubs, bitters, and tonics. The beer list features a number of California selections, including a non-alcoholic option from San Diego’s Athletic Brewing Co.
Dine inside or out. The lovely patio features heat lamps, and the kelly green-hued interior space includes an upper level that’s perfect for private parties. A small but vibrant bar features six stools, two of which are poised towards the open kitchen, providing a ‘chef’s table’ dining experience. Whichever your seating choice, and whatever night you visit, you’re sure to be charmed by the warm and welcoming service and the feeling of community promoted by Bazo, Hunt, and their adept team.
alley & vine: 1332 Park St, Suite D, Alameda
Dinner nightly, starting 5pm
Brunch, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 2:30pm
Main photo by Nicola Parisi