Cijjo Restaurant and Lounge (pronounced sy-joe), a contemporary, international small plates restaurant, soft opened in late December but is planning for a grand opening early this year. The restaurant took over the space at 246 Castro St. vacated by Pho Garden last year. The Cijjo kitchen is led by Ira Siegel, who comes with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and experience in New York City under chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Jean-Louis Palladin.
The menu is worldly, with plates ranging from seared tuna tetaki to burrata pugliesi to Alsatian tarte flambé to truffle fries. Each dish is meant to be unique and has to be created with authentic ingredients from the region it's representing, said owner Trisha Pham. For example, Cijjo's Peruvian seafood ceviche is marinated with passion fruit, native to Peru, instead of the traditional lime. The name of the restaurant is a word Pham said she and her husband encountered during travels around Spain. she said. "There's no meaning to it, but if you Google "cijjo" there's absolutely nothing out there except us. Anything related to Cijjo will point you to us. … We're going to be one of a kind."
Open for lunch and dinner daily; beer and wine only. www.cijjomv.com; 650-282-5401
Five Guys, the East Coast version of In-N-Out Burger, is expanding its already massive burger empire (more than 1,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada) with a new outpost to come at 2098 El Camino Real, the space formerly occupied by Country Gourmet. At Five Guys, customers can build their own burgers from a long list of toppings. According to the website, there are more than 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys; the restaurants only use fresh ground beef; nothing is every frozen and only peanut oil is used. The Mountain View location will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. www.fiveguys.com
The new year will also see Castro Street get another burger place, but this one comes with an Asian tilt. Buffalo Beers Burgers Baos, is slated to open at 292 Castro in early February, said chef-owner Brandon Poon.
"The restaurant is going to be a slider bar concept (with) all Asian fusion sliders," he said. Poon, trained in fine dining with a degree from The Art Institute of California in Sunnyvale, said he's thinking items like a banh mi burger (a play on the Vietnamese sandwich), bulgogi burger (marinated and grilled beef, a Korean dish) and a breakfast slider with slow-braised pork belly, a crispy quail egg and mustard vinaigrette. "I figured I would try to take as much of what I learned in culinary school, kind of nicer dining techniques and downplay (them) into a little more casual comfort food," Poon said. And don't forget about that second "b" in the name Poon plans to feature California-only brews and keep everything as local as possible.
Doppio Zero, an Italian restaurant/pizzeria, will take over for Pasta? at 160 Castro St. Doppio Zero is a reference to "00" flour, a super-fine-ground flour used in pasta, pizza dough and pastries. Pizza napoletana, a sought-after distinction granted by the American Delegation of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, is made with doppio zero flour. Check out a sneak peek of what the redone interior looks like on the restaurant's Facebook page. They're aiming to be open by Feb. 1 or earlier.
Oren's Hummus Shop announced plans to open a Mountain View location late last year and are delivering soon. Mistie Cohen, a partner at Oren's, said the team is aiming for a March opening at 126 Castro St. Oren's imports its chickpeas, tahini, pickles, olives, oils, spices and more directly from Israel and makes everything in-house. The Palo Alto location also does booming take-out business; the Mountain View restaurant will have an area devoted specifically to to-go customers. www.orenshummus.com