Zut Tavern - Berkeley

Went at the end of August.

Standout was a pizza margherita ($12). Crust was as thin as I’ve ever had, comparable to Pizzetta 211 in SF. Excellent flavors, nice crunch. A bianca might have worked better for such thin crust, it was a bit soggy in the middle. It was the first night they served pizza, so maybe they’ll head in another direction, who knows? Definitely one to watch on that score.

Coccoli ($5) was fried bread stuffed with cheese, sort of like a savory danish. I’d order that again.

Corn griddle cakes ($7) were soggy and kind of boring.

Roasted aged duck breast with potatoes and wax beans ($24) was great. The roast figs on the plate were good but made no sense to me with the duck.

Whey-braised lamb with beans ($25) was dry and kind of boring. Would have worked better shredded and mixed with the broth.

Drank an excellent 2007 Accordini “Le Bessole” Amarone, good value at $70. Also had a glass of tap Friulano that was flavorless and a glass of good Muscadet.

Overall it kind of reminded me of Cafe Rouge, though less consistent.

We enjoyed the prosciutto and wild mushroom pizza recently. Also the rock crab Louie. They very kindly made a half order of onion soup for my mother in law, though it’s not on the menu. She didn’t like it, because it’s a slightly unusual version made with red onions. She also didn’t like her pastrami sandwich, though to be fair to her, it was very fatty. I agree with the Chronicle review complaining about the tiny antique plates. Also sticking the bill in a used book is silly. Still, I’d go back for lunch again. (Maybe not with the MIL)

Went last night, pleasantly quiet at 9pm on a January Saturday (UC’s still on break). Big improvement since August, everything we ordered was solid.

Pork & beef meatballs with arrabbiata sauce ($9) were juicy and delicious.

Fried? Brussels sprouts ($9) with applewood bacon, “anchovy molasses” (forgot to ask), and lime were good, slightly sweet but good balance with the lime. Lots of bacon.

Prosciutto and wild mushroom pizza bianca ($18) with Manchego, caramelized onion, arugula, and “garlic crema” was good, I think not as thin as the Magherita I had last time and more tender / chewy than crunchy. I’ll probably ask for a darker bake next time.

I tasted an excellent, somewhat eccentric clam chowder ($10), had pancetta instead of bacon and a hit of pimiento. Also tasted the chicken pot pie ($20), also excellent though too similar to the clam chowder to order them together.

Drank Bueyes Torrontes, Weingut Furst Elbing, and Ricci “El Matt” Bonarda by the glass ($10 each), all delicious.

Portions were all good for the modest prices. Nice to see this venerable spot back in good form.

I somehow forgot how good this place is since Sho Kamio took over.

Dining-car napkins with buttonhole. Too bad I forgot and wore a T-shirt. Generous pours on the wine ($9-12 / glass).

Hamachi crudo with fresno chilis, cilantro, crispy buckwheat, trout roe, avocado mousse, and lemon vinaigrette ($15). Really a great combination of flavors and textures. Delicious. Much prettier than you can tell from this crappy photo.

Seared pork belly and diver scallops with fennel pernod puree, endive, shaved baby fennel, pickled rhubarb, and preserved olives, another unexpected but delicious combination.

Same brussels sprouts as before, price went up to $11 but I think it’s a bigger portion. Definitely want to squeeze all that lime in there and stir it up.

Raviolo with ricotta, an egg, brown butter, and I forget what all else ($13). I think it was an appetizer but it was rich enough to serve as an entree.

Charcoal-grilled Spanish octopus with peppers, kale, chickpeas, and onions ($26), excellent, reminded me of Ensenada.

This will definitely be in our regular rotation from now on. It’s great to have this venerable space in good shape again.

We took a nice long walk yesterday evening and ended up here. We shared the Seared pork belly and diver scallops, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We then had (separately) a sausage and broccoli rabe orecchiette (a bit salty but otherwise very tasty) and a prosciutto and arugula pizza (very good). Too full for dessert, we passed.

Server brought us a couple of wine tastes so we could decide on 2 suggestions. We ended up with bottle of a crisp French white. We also tasted the Torrontes which (in our not so humble opinions) was nearly unfit for human consumption. On the other hand, there’s only a handful of Torrontes that I’ve actually liked (and I’m in Argentina about 4x/year).

Server was very nice, and the courses were well-paced. Nothing worse than having course two coming while swallowing the last bite of course one, or being done with everything in 45 minutes.

I’ve had pretty much the opposite experience with Torrontes, I think I’ve liked every one I’ve had except maybe for one from Lodi.

Further research is required, but I think this is my new favorite burger ($16 including garlic fries), especially with Cafe Rouge out of the competition.

Came medium-rare as ordered, great char on the outside, rare and juicy on the inside. Heavy toast on the excellent bun, which I also like. Aioli free on request.

Very nice burrata ($15). The chiogga beet salad with roasted grapes, morrocan olives, and pickled shallots was also nice but would overpower the delicate cheese.

$14 / glass

What did you think of the negative review in today’s Chron?

Maybe Bauer caught them on an off day. I find it entirely unprofessional that he re-reviews places based on a single visit.

Are there no star ratings any more? I don’t see them in my phone or desktop browser.

It was in the “between meals” section in print - this may be why no stars. Or he was sitting on them, and all those points in his ass were the reason for the review.

Yes, I assume the mini reviews in the Thursday section are different. Not sure why tho.

The way it used to work was the ratings in the Thursday updates replaced the old ones in the restaurant database, but it looks like they stopped updating that. There are entries for Beckett’s Pub, Belli Osteria, and Cafe Rouge, but none for Tupper & Reed, Lucia’s, or Pompette, although Bauer reviewed Pompette.

Had another excellent pizza for lunch the other day. I think it’s currently my favorite in the East Bay given closures and the unfortunate (for me) dominance of Neapolitan-style tender crust.


They called this a cheese steak ($17), but it didn’t have as much cheese as I expected. Really good anyway, sort of a pressed fajita sandwich. Very good salad (as always at Zut).

Really nice affogato ($10) with both ice cream and whipped cream.

Those prices seem really high.

New item: Reuben ($17). Every element was excellent, particularly the rye bread. I meant to ask where they get it.

Best onion soup gratinée I’ve had in a long time, in large part because this is the first I’ve had in a long time that was made traditionally, with good beef stock.

Excellent Caesar.

Pizza and burger still as good as ever, no change from previous photos. For future reference, fries are better without the optional garlic.

Excellent sundae with both chocolate and caramel sauces.

Still the best outdoor dining area in town.

Fried squid was good. Stayed crisp. Lemons were sliced too thick, did not get crunchy.

Pizza with sausage, broccolini, peppers, ricotta, mozzarella, etc., very good. I’m a sucker for sausage + broccolini in any context.

Raspberry sorbetto was good but passion fruit was incredible. Not house-made. I have to find out where they’re getting it.