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Durham gets a new pizza joint, while a beer hall is added to Namu Durham

Drew Jackson

Sofia’s Pizza is now open in East Durham, built in a former cab stand and garage.

The pizzeria is owned by Jorge Gonzalez-Pena and Emily Berkeley, East Durham residents who also own the El Rey del Taco food truck, which is often parked in Raleigh.

Glass walls replace the cab stand’s previously open pull-throughs, housing the 40-seat dining room and kitchen. The former garage a few steps away is now the prep area, with Raleigh architect Matthew Konar behind the renovation. Gonzalez-Pena said he plans to add outdoor seating for the warmer months and a bar in the near future.

“This is our neighborhood, and we thought there was a need for pizza,” Gonzalez-Pena said.

Sofia’s serves hand-tossed pies and offers pizza by the slice, plus salads, baked wings, garlic cheese bread and a menu of subs. The pizza shop has a half-dozen creative pies, including the East Durham, with bacon, collard greens and hot peppers; and the Mexican, with chipotle added to the red sauce base and toppings of chorizo, sweet corn, hot peppers and pumpkin seeds. Drinks include sodas and a short list of local beers.

Gonzalez-Pena and Berkeley each got their starts in the industry through pizza shops two decades ago, according to the restaurant’s website.

“We envision Sofia’s as a casual neighborhood spot where neighbors new and old can hang out and enjoy tasty pizza, pasta, soft serve, and local beers,” reads their description of the restaurant on its website.

Sofia’s is at 2201 Angier Ave., opening last week after a two-year renovation. It’s now open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Go to sofiaspizzadurham.com.

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Order the Kimchi Bul-fries with your choice of bulgogi served nacho style over waffle fries, topped with pan-fried kimchi, a fried egg and spicy aioli at Namu Restaurant & Coffee Bar. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

Expanding Namu adds a beer hall

Korean food and coffee bar concept Namu continues to evolve, this time adding a beer hall to the Straw Valley refuge off of Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard.

Namu opened last year as a collaboration between two popular food trucks, Joe Choi’s Bulkogi and Bo Kwon’s Bo’s Kitchen. The pair serve traditional and inventive Korean dishes for lunch and dinner, as well as a highly regarded coffee program for the mornings.

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The restaurant is built in a former artist’s residence between Durham and Chapel Hill, the latest in a line of dining projects to keep the mid-century modern, wood and glass palace alive. Before Namu, the space was occupied by fine dining Black House, Giorgios Bakatsias’ Boheme and Straw Valley Food and Drink.

Choi said Namu’s lease gives them first rights to expand into other sections of the building every six months, but that if they don’t take over a the new space, it’s opened up to other businesses. Now Namu includes a new beer hall as the restaurant expands next door.

“We started with the food truck and got to know a lot of really cool breweries (serving there),” Choi said. “We were looking for more ways to feature the local beer and it made logical sense to open a beer hall.”

The Namu beer hall adds 32 draft lines and 120 different cans and bottles. With the addition, Namu is fairly large, controlling 10,000 square feet indoor and another 12,000 outside in the garden.

Choi said there are a few food options only available in the beer hall, including a ramen fried chicken, where ramen seasoning is mixed in with the fry batter; a steak and cheese; and a bulgogi hot dog.

Namu is at 5420 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham. Go to namudurham.com.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.

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