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Apr 17th
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Dining

Restaurant dining and wine reviews for Santa Cruz County >
Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area.

Wine Reviews

Vine and Dine: Cliff Lede Vineyards

Vine and Dine: Cliff Lede Vineyards

A wine to try in Napa: Sauvignon Blanc 2011

My stepdaughter and her husband, Julie and Chris, live in Walnut Creek, and my husband and I often go to stay with them in this beautiful part of California. Handily located close to Napa, the four of us went wine-tasting there recently—with a stop at Cliff Lede Vineyards’ tasting room for Julie and Chris to pick up their wine shipment. I particularly love Sauvignon Blanc, and Cliff Lede’s 2011 vintage is superbly crafted and absolutely delicious.

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Dining Reviews

The Pizza Grail

The Pizza Grail

Lunchtime at Mama Mia's brings tasteful twists to the classics

For more than 25 years Mama Mia's has been delighting San Lorenzo Valley residents, who rave about the pizza. I like pizza. Wood-fired, gas-fired, barbecued, thin crust, deep-dish, you name it; as long as it's well-made. But I have this memory of a pizza from a long-gone Italian restaurant in Cupertino.

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Wine Reviews

Vine and Dine: Husch Vineyards

Vine and Dine: Husch Vineyards

Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Looking for a lively Sauvignon Blanc that will pair well with a wide array of foods? Then Husch Vineyards’ 2011 should do the trick. With its zesty aromas of guava, lime, passion fruit and grapefruit, this is an easy-to-drink wine that will go well with global foods such as Mexican, Greek, Thai or Indian.

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Dining Reviews

Molto Bella

Molto Bella

Chef and owner Gaetano Balsamo infuses Capitola’s Bella Roma Caffe with authentic flair

Bella Roma Caffe is a very sweet spot to dine in Capitola village. This is an Italian restaurant with a really authentic feel to it—from the Tuscan hues of ochre on the walls to the little indoor statue of twin brothers Romulus and Remus, central characters in Rome’s foundation myth. It’s also very warm, intimate and inviting, with a distinct romantic vibe.

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Wine Reviews

Vine & Dine: Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival

Vine & Dine: Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival

Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival
The Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival is a glorious extravaganza of the finest foods and wines from all over the world. Over the weekend of April 4-7, I tasted an amazing selection of both, especially at the Lexus Grand Tasting event. Set up in a gigantic tent that holds 2,500 people, exquisite morsels were prepared by top-notch chefs, wine was poured from some of the best wineries—and I enjoyed every single bite and sip.

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Dining Reviews

Northern Bites

Northern Bites

Tasty recipes and charming service are customary at the Panda Inn

For 30 years, the Panda Inn has served specialties of Northern Chinese cuisine from its location in the Deer Park Center in Aptos.

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Dining Reviews

Comfy Cafetal

Comfy Cafetal

Three large blackboards showcase the surprisingly large menu, which ranges from freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, bagels, and breakfast burritos, to soups, salads and sandwiches. You can even get a sugar cone filled with Marianne's ice cream.

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Wine Reviews

Hallcrest Vineyards

Hallcrest Vineyards

Pinot Noir 2009

One of my favorite wine-related events of the year is Pinot Paradise, which takes place every March at Villa Ragusa in Campbell. It’s a day when Pinot lovers come out in full force to enjoy the fruit of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Dining Reviews

Naturally Delicious

Naturally Delicious

Pizzeria Avanti fires up its new oven for a taste of New York

Although Ristorante Avanti moved to another location on the same street, it left pieces of itself behind. Pieces of pizza that is, as well as a couple of their popular salads.
Now, Pizzeria Avanti continues Avanti’s long-observed tradition of using local organic produce, naturally raised meats and sustainable seafood, as well as in-house baking of bread.

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Dining Reviews

Food & Wine Spring 2013

Food & Wine Spring 2013

As Santa Cruz emerges from its wintry slumber, the sights, sounds and sumptuous flavors of our vibrant home come alive with the sunshine of spring. There’s plenty to keep you and your appetite busy, but if you need some inspiration, take note of the tasty ideas on the following pages. We have bites and sips that will satisfy you no matter the mood you find yourself in as the weather warms up. Feeling stressed? Slow down with a traditional tea ritual at Hidden Peak Teahouse (page 52), or unwind over a pint of organic brew at the mellow new beer hotspot Discretion Brewing (page 44). Enjoying an adventurous streak? Try a Beer Float from The Picnic Basket (page 34), or consider stopping by the Young Farmers and Ranchers annual Testicle Festival (page 59).

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Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.

 

Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.
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Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.