Precita Park Cafe Gets New Chef, New Dinner Menu

It’s been slightly less than a year since the Precita Park Cafe opened on the eastern end of Precita Park. Yet in that short time the cafe has dramatically altered the geo-social dynamics of North Bernal —so much so that Newt Gingrich might even call it “transformational.”

The Precita Park Cafe has become Precitaville’s front porch; a place to grab coffee or a tasty bite to eat, and bump in to a few neighbors along the way. In the evening, it morphs into a low-key place to have dinner. Now the foodies at Tablehopper bring news that there’s a new chef behind the counter:

Rachel Herbert at Precita Park Cafe has hired chef Tu David Phu to launch a new dinner menu. Phu has spent the past two years at Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, and he’ll be bringing a similar “make it by hand” ethos to Precita Park Cafe, turning out housemade burrata, mozzarella, pasta, and more. Look for dishes like thin-crust pizzas, fresh ricotta gnocchi, and entrées like sausage-stuffed chicken with braised fennel and romesco sauce ($14), and short ribs with polenta fries, braised greens, and crème fraîche ($15), with sweet potato pie ($3.50) for dessert.

Chef Tu Davi Phu comes to glamorous Bernalwood via the frontierlands of Berkeley, where he was recently seen slinging matzo balls at Saul’s Delicatessen — a pairing that in 2010 prompted the Berkeleyside blog to ask, “What’s a nice, young, tattooed Vietnamese boy from West Oakland doing as the top chef in a Jewish deli in North Berkeley?”

So now that same nice, young, tattooed Vietnamese chef from West Oakland is serving fresh ricotta gnocchi at a transformational neighborhood cafe in North Bernal.

PHOTO: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, Tu David Phu at Saul’s in Berkeley. Stephen Loewinsohn photo via Berkeleyside

14 thoughts on “Precita Park Cafe Gets New Chef, New Dinner Menu

  1. God, I want to eat there every night! But how will I pay the rent on my merger non-profit job salary? Guess I better move to Oakland.

  2. From my rather dated, memory inspired perspective (1957-1967), the lack of a grocery store front is still odd (Not as jarring as the loss of Le Conte tho…). Rite Way! 🙂 Seems like a great addition.

    • Le Conte is still there— just not as we knew it——- When we moved to Moncalm St (1948) –Rite Way– Was a Safeway for a short while( MR Mc Neil was the manager. I lived in this neighborhood till 1979–

  3. Tu is awesome. Great food and an incredibly nice guy. I hope he stays as the food anchor for this neighborhood paradigm shifting locale. PPC has made a difference and hopefully the rest of Precita Valley will quickly evolve to match its energy

  4. Unfortunately Precita Park Cafe has been a disappointment every time I’ve been there–poor service and the food and coffee are nothing special. The new chef sounds promising, but first, they need to figure out how to make an iced coffee in less than 10 minutes.

  5. I have found Precita Park Cafe to be a welcoming addition. I have never had a bad experience and find the sandwiches and salads to be delicious. I haven’t tried their dinners but will eventually splurge. Their hot chicken sandwich and beet salad are out of this world. The darker roasted coffee with almond milk is deilcious and they have a house beer that is $3. Their service is perfectly fine and unobtrusive unless you are looking for a best friend!

  6. Precita Park Cafe as well as Hillside Supper Club have been assets to the neighbhorhood. Always enjoy going to both places. Very friendly, good service, delicious food. All the best to you Tu David Phu!

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