Pleasing Patios for Summer Dining in the East Bay

Florentine Salad served at Batch & Brine. Photo:

I don’t know if it’s the fresh air, the atmosphere or the people watching, but there’s just something special about dining outside. Here are a few spots where you can enjoy all three—as well as a meal.

Batch & Brine

LAFAYETTE – If you subscribe to the notion that a sandwich is always better when someone else makes it, then you will be happy with the menu at Lafayette’s Batch & Brine where fancy sandwiches make up the majority of the offerings. What’s a fancy sandwich? Think ahi tuna with wasabi aioli, fried rice noodles, radish sprouts, cucumber and avocado. If you’re looking for out-of-the-ordinary between two slices of bread, this is your spot.

If a burger is more your speed, try the Sierra, which features Angus chuck, crispy onions, cheddar, bacon and bourbon pickled peppers. Made to order, this burger had great flavor and just the right juicy factor.

Batch & Brine has a large front patio with plenty of tables and even a few cozy spots to enjoy a date night.

Fancy sandwiches start at $13. Open daily, 11am-10pm with weekend brunch from 10am-3pm. Full bar. 3602 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette.

Salt Craft

PLEASANTON – After a bit of a rocky start, things are settling in for Matt Greco and his crew at Pleasanton’s Salt Craft, where it’s all outdoor dining, all the time. The al fresco-only restaurant features a seasonal, sustainable menu that showcases local producers and purveyors.

If you’re in a sharing mood, the thinly sliced lamb pastrami with pickled onions served with toasted rye is a standout among starters.

Greco’s mom’s apricot chicken bake was the perfect blending of “salt” and “craft” with sea salt bringing out the juices of the baked chicken quarter. I generally shy away from dark meat, but I would order this dish again.

Tender and full of flavor, the strip steak served with fingerling potatoes, broccoli and horseradish sauce was outstanding.

Entrées start at $18. Open daily, Mon-Fri from 8am and Sat-Sun from 9am. Beer and wine only. Reservations are recommended. 377 St. Mary St., Pleasanton.

Cravings Pizza Co.

LIVERMORE – There must be as many varieties of pizza as there are types of barbecue. If you happen upon Cravings Pizza Co. in Livermore, you’re in luck, as you can try several of them. Neapolitan, California, Deep Dish, Detroit, New York, Grandma, Sicilian and St. Louis-style pizzas are all on the menu. If you haven’t heard of some of these, you’re not alone. I hadn’t either.

Armed with a couple of friends, we ordered the acceptable amount of pizza—a pie per person—to sample a few of the regional selections.

We started where it all began, at the home of pizza, selecting the Margherita version of the Neapolitan-style pizza. Baked at 900º, the pie had the classic slightly charred crust that you get with a Neapolitan and simple toppings of fresh mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce and olive oil. If you prefer a “less is more” type of pizza, then Neapolitan-style is for you.

The Grandma-style pizza and the short-proofed crust that it’s made with was new to me, so trying the Great Grandma, with arugula, prosciutto, tomatoes, balsamic reduction and garlic olive oil, was in order. Baked in a square steel pan, this pizza had a dense, crispy crust. If you want something different, this would be a great option to enjoy on Cravings’ patio with a bottle of local rosé.

Our hands-down favorite of the evening was the Detroit-style 9-2-5 pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, sautéed onions, green bell peppers, black olives and tomato sauce. Starting with a crust proofed for more than 12 hours, this pie had a thick, airy crust and is more suited to be consumed with a fork and knife.

Pizzas start at $8.50. Beer and wine only. Open daily, Mon-Thurs from 4pm and Fri-Sun from 11:30am. 2062 First St., Livermore.

Janet Fazio writes ‘Tastes of Your Town’, a monthly feature on East Bay dining in the print editions of Your Town Monthly. A version of this article was originally published in August 2018 editions.

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