Mice En Place Kitchen, Berkeley
to become another Heroic Italian
Tucked down one block off the well known Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, Mice En Place Kitchen served up winning dishes with a French flair. Andy Mirabell, our agent, had the pleasure to work with this husband-and-wife team for a second time as Restaurant Realty listed and sold their cafe.
Rob and Chef Theully made this small café and large private patio shine.
Restaurant Realty sold this café to David Bullitt, owner of Heroic Italian. His popular casual Italian concept has an existing location in the famed Castro district of San Francisco as well as locations in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. David’s bold and fun concept plans to bring a great wine program to accent their wonderful menu and fully take advantage of this great patio and café space. Undoubtedly, the Berkeley community and food scene will welcome Heroic Italian with open arms.
David wasn’t always a sandwich guy. Along with his brother, Jeffrey Merrihue, he had a whole career in Silicon Valley, working at tech companies like Intel and Samsung. A couple of years ago, Merrihue left the tech world and opened a Santa Monica restaurant called Heroic Italian. When David, a SF resident, headed down south to help his brother get started, he started thinking that he might want to open a restaurant, too. He was burnt out on global travel as a marketing director for Nvidia so working with his brother was a welcome change. And after things went well in LA, the brothers agreed that it was time for Heroic to open an outpost in San Francisco.
The plan was to open Heroic Italian SF, with a tightly-edited menu of sandwiches and salads, in the Market, that hybrid food hall and grocery store on the ground floor of the Twitter building. But the pandemic stalled that plan so David started casting around for other ways to open an SF location. He talked a wine bar owner who also owned the building in the Castro District. That was Sabeen Minns, who since 2016 has owned Swirl Wine Bar, a bustling bottle shop on a busy block of Castro Street. Minns was intrigued by the idea of bringing a sandwich shop into Swirl, and the two struck a deal: instead of rent, David would pay Minns a percentage of Heroic’s profits. The more successful the sandwich shop, the better for the both of them — and that way, David wouldn’t be saddled with the lease worries that have plagued so many restaurateurs during the coronavirus crisis.
According to David, his sandwiches are a different value proposition than the standard SF sub or hoagie. All the meats are imported from Italian makers so exclusive that he declined to name names. Their rolls are from SF’s own Montesacro Pinseria, and are made with a soy, rice, and wheat flour blend that’s also imported, this time straight from Rome. But everything else, from the produce to the chips on the side, is local.
The special of the house at Heroic Italian is called the OMG, and it’s a Italian-sub-esque combination of prosciutto, salami, capocollo, mortadella, porchetta, smoked mozzarella, artichokes, tomatoes, housemade giardiniera, mustard, and black truffle mayo. Also the lightly pickled tomato and giardiniera (pickled vegetables) really put it over the top.
For warm sandwiches, there are two options with rotisserie chicken, including the Genoa (with basil pesto and roasted tomato).
There are also some great salads, including the roasted-vegetable-heavy Mount Etna, and two vegetarian sandwiches — the Marinetti, with imported Bufala mozzarella, avocado, roasted tomato, pesto, and aged balsamic glaze; and the Vegan, with avocado, roasted tomato, caramelized onion, vegan pesto, and house-made giardiniera.