I've been walking by for months trying to peek through the papered windows. Hoping and hoping that one day on my stroll, the doors would just magically swing wide open. Sometimes I'd actually force myself to go a few weeks without checking, convinced that the next time I did, a new bustling cafe would be livening up the sleepy morning stretch of Grand Avenue that I call home. You see, for all of the cafes and amenities we have, we don't have an independent morning spot with great espresso, coffee and interesting morning pastries. Until now.
Now let's get one thing straight: Charlie Hallowell, chef/owner of both Pizzaiolo and Boot and Shoe Service, doesn't do things half-way (and thus, I think, the wait for the perfect time to take that kraft paper down from the windows). From wonderful fresh salads and delightful wood-fired pizzas at Pizzaiolo to those fantastic salty olives and strong cocktails (and pizza, of course) at Boot and Shoe Service -- there are innumerable reasons to visit both. And since moving to Oakland I find myself frequenting one of the sturdy wooden tables at Pizzaiolo drinking a macchiato, nibbling on a cinnamoney donut hole and stealing internet from the tenants upstairs. The morning service there is lovely and the locals have caught on: it's packed.
And finally: the new cafe adjoining Boot and Shoe Service, formally DiBartolo Cafe, opened last week and looks pretty promising. In short time, I predict, it too will be packed. Like Pizzaiolo's morning service, there are a variety of simple pastries and morning cakes and lots of seating (they are keeping it wi-fi free for now) at counters along the whole periphery of the space. The inside is spare and clean with high ceilings, brick walls, and fantastic light. Hallowell has opted to serve Sightglass coffee, and the staff and other customers I chatted with seem thrilled with the decision for a few reasons. It's local, it's excellent, and it's not Blue Bottle (which, while fantastic, is ubiquitous these days).