College Avenue coup: First came the news that Oakland's Hudson was closing -- owners John Hurley and Justin Hafen say their empty-nest status has them longing to travel. But then came the stunning follow-up -- stunning in a delightful way. San Francisco's A16 is taking over the space at 5356 College Ave., with Rocky Maselli as new exec chef, A16 wine guru Shelley Lindgren in charge of the Italian wine list,and a full bar, including Italian aperitifs and cocktails. You'll need to be patient for just a few months more. Plan on getting that first forkful of orecchiette and blistered-crust pizza in early 2013.
Coming soon: The Old Oakland neighborhood is buzzing with foodie activity these days. First Swan's Market scored the fresh Mexican cafe, Cosecha; then Borgo Italia moved in; now Rosamunde's Sausage Grill has snatched up a spot; and Sarah Kirnon's Caribbean-inspired Miss Ollie's should be opening soon at 901 Washington St. The Wolf stove, wooden tabletops and vintage enamel plates have arrived, and Kirnon, who left Oakland's Hibiscus in January, is teasing everyone by posting mouthwatering menu clues on her Facebook page. Crispy aubergine, anyone? A little avocado with persimmons, red onions and sweet lime? Track the progress at Facebook.com/MissOllies.
Free as a bird: If you've spent any time in Isla Vista, the college town that surrounds UC Santa Barbara, then you know all about Freebirds, the burrito shop that combines heavy-metal music, flying electric guitars and a wide array of burrito fillings that range from slow-roasted carnitas to Death Sauce-doused veggies. What began as a college fave has turned into the Freebirds World Burrito chain, with locations across Southern California and -- most recently -- in San Jose. Now they've begun hiring staff for a Walnut Creek outpost, which will be opening next to the Habit burger grill at 1512 Geary Road. Get a sneak peek at the menu at http://freebirds.com.
Send your Bay Area restaurant tips to food editor Jackie Burrell, firstname.lastname@example.org.