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Jack London Square, the new location of Pan-American restaurant Bocanova. Photos by Ashley Teplin

August 24, 2009

Jack London Revival Starts with Bocanova

Jack London Square's Exciting New Dining Scene
Kicks Off with the Pan-American Restaurant, Bocanova

The Oakland waterfront has been a bustling commercial hub for more than a 150 years—the Transcontinental Railroad ended at the city's Long Wharf terminal, and Oakland later grew into one of the largest shipping ports on the West Coast—it still is, but today there is a growing vibrant life, focused around historic Jack London Square.

The Square, named for the celebrated author ("The Call of the Wild", "The Sea-Wolf") who spent much of his boyhood here in the late 19th century, is in the midst of a $350 million renovation by Ellis Partners. They will bring 100,000 square feet of new Class A office and retail space, a 72,000-square-foot public market modeled after San Francisco's Ferry Plaza, and a community of exciting new restaurants.

The first of these to open will be Bocanova, with its unique "Pan-American kitchen" created by Rick Hackett, executive chef at San Francisco's popular MarketBar, and his wife and front-of-the-house partner, Meredith Melville. Bringing new life to in a 1926-vintage ice warehouse, Bocanova is opening on September 1 and will feature dishes inspired by the cuisines of South, Central, and North America, showcasing their Mediterranean roots and featuring great Northern California raw ingredients, many of them sourced from small sustainable farms. Specialties might include fried Petrale Sole tacos, Yucatan seafood stew, slow-roasted heirloom beans with chorizo, Sea of Cortez scallops with Brazilian curry sauce, organic rotisserie chicken with guajillo chile & banana salsa, and Argentinean-style steaks from the grill. Ceviches and crudos will come from the extensive raw bar, and a one-of-a-kind selection of unusual but menu-appropriate wines from the Americas and beyond will be featured.

Noted Bay Area architect Michael Guthrie (Bix, Myth, Zinnia) has employed recycled and sustainably harvested materials, including wood, stone, glass, tile & textiles to bring warmth and verve to the stunning Bocanova space, with its soaring ceilings, magnificent concrete columns, and floor-to-ceiling south- and west-facing windows providing unparalleled views.

Other participants in what will soon become Jack London Square's flourishing culinary scene include Daniel Patterson (Coi) and Lauren Kiino (Delfina), whose Bracina will highlight "rustic-refined California cuisine". Richard Corbo, formerly of Ducca in San Francisco, will start his own pizzeria project called Pizzeria Zanna Bianca, and it will follow in the footsteps of the Bay Area's ubiquitous rustic Italian pizzerias/eateries. Meg Ray of the acclaimed Miette Patisserie plans to open a retail shop and baking school.

“Having lived all over the Bay Area, Meredith and I bought a house in Oakland five years ago," says Hackett, "Oakland is to San Francisco what Brooklyn was to Manhattan— we're proud to be a part of this exciting and diverse city.”

Posted by Pamela at August 24, 2009 5:56 PM| Share on Facebook |

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