Business Buzz – November 2020

(Elana O’Loskey, Photographer)
(L-R) Brothers Blair and Jason Bagneschi, along with Executive Chef Andrew Farr, are busy sourcing fresh produce and everything else from local farmers and businesses for their reopening later this month.

Piccolo Napoli Reopens After Complete Remodel
    In Oct. 2019, when Blair and Jason Bagneschi started work on their remodel and code upgrade of Piccolo Napoli, they never envisioned completion would take more than a calendar year. At press time, the brothers were confident they would reopen late-November. Moving forward, both Blair and Jason will be on the premises full time, along with Executive Chef Andrew Farr, to ensure a smooth reopening.
    Anyone who has persevered through a residential or commercial remodel where careful inspectors ensure every single inch of the premises meet code upgrades won’t be surprised at the wait. The term “back to the studs” comes to mind, including new flooring, electrical and plumbing throughout. Throw COVID-19 and unbreathable air into the mix, and the timing makes sense.
    Blair is the bar and beverage director for the brand-new bar, while Jason is the director of operations. They have kept in touch with some former staff members and will offer interviews as hiring commences. Between them, they have 40 years in the restaurant/bar business. Opening Piccolo Napoli together fulfills a long time dream for these talented brothers.
    Their Italian heritage increases their knowledge base for offering regional Italian dishes to Orinda diners. Seasonal and fresh define much of their menu. The healthy living philosophy they believe in requires sourcing everything possible within a 100-mile radius to ensure freshness and support local businesses and farms. “They’ve been doing this in Italy for centuries,” said Jason.
    Pizza lovers can expect a handmade Neapolitan style crust with some traditional favorites such as margherita (mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil) and pepperoni. Other choices are meat-centric, vegetarian–centric and cheese-centric, all with seasonal ingredients. For fall, try a vegetarian pizza with winter squash, caramelized onions and smoked provolone.
    Look for vegetarian dishes such as broccolini with red onions and chili oil; roasted brassicas with black garlic hummus, beech mushrooms and carrots; and Fonduta Gorgonzola, or caramella (filled pasta that looks like candy wrappers) filled with figs, cheese and caramelized onions, topped with a gorgonzola sauce.
    All pastas are handmade. Try pappardelle noodles, Tuscan style, with a wild boar or short rib ragu. Dinner specials will include Bistecca alla Fiorentina, made for 2-3 people and served with white beans, sage, bitter greens and roasted broccolini. Another planned special is trout from Mt. Lassen, with escarole and chanterelle mushrooms in red wine sauce.
    Recipes from their great grandmother include focaccia; raw fish crudo (using whatever fish is in season); banana bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce and banana bread croutons (similar to a trifle) with cocoa nibs on top for crunch. “A nice Limoncello goes well with this dessert,” said Blair.
    Blair has stocked their full bar with small batch local spirits like St. George, Hangar One, and Sonoma Whiskey. Expect a local and craft beer selection as well as an expansive wine list, including vetted California and Italian labels. His seasonal craft cocktail program for fall includes apple, pear and pumpkin flavors. He makes all his craft cocktail syrups and mixes from scratch. Whatever the season, your choices will be inventive and filled with flavor.
    Piccolo Napoli is located at 2 Theatre Square, #144, Orinda, 925.253.1225,, www.piccolo-napoli-com. Dinner Hours are Mon. – Thurs. 5 – 9 p.m., Sat. 4 – 9 p.m., Sun., 4 – 9 p.m.; Brunch Sat. and Sun. 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. All COVID-19 precautions observed.

(Elana O’Loskey, Photographer)
(L-R) Kim, Elaine Zheng and Wendy are ready to pamper your nails at Elaine’s Nails across from Safeway on the Village Square side of Orinda at 1 Camino Sobrante, #10. Checks, cash or Venmo only.

Elaine’s Nails – Open Daily
    Elaine Zheng opened her nail salon 16 years ago. “I chose Orinda because I like a small town, and the townspeople here seem more like a tight family than neighbors,” said Zheng. She continued, “They’ve always been friendly and supportive; I’m lucky to be part of the community.” She knew she did the right thing choosing Orinda because when she opened and brought her baby daughter to work, all her customers welcomed her little girl.
    Longtime staff members at Elaine’s Nails include Kim, Wendy, Lynn and Mei, all of whom are licensed and have 20 years experience as a manicurist. According to Zheng, she and her staff use the finest products so your nails last a long time. She strives to treat all customers like family.
    There are various types of manicures available with different nail treatments at this salon, such as silk wrap, acrylic, gel, and shellac. Pedicures are also available. When you call for an appointment, know that the staff follows COVID-19 precautions by making appointments on a strict schedule so the minimum amount of people are present inside the salon. Weather permitting, the large double front doors of the salon are open to allow fresh air to circulate.
    Elaine’s Nails donates gift certificates to local schools and school-related sports activities. They also donate to Breast Cancer Awareness. When not working, especially during quarantine, Zheng has learned much more about baking. “My kids might have an extra five pounds on them by now,” she said with a smile.
    Stop by Elaine’s Nails at 1 Camino Sobrante, #10, across from Safeway, just around the corner from Starbucks, 925.253.3688. Open daily 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Accepts cash, checks, or Venmo but no credit or ATM cards. All COVID-19 precautions observed.

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