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Sep 03rd
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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

A Very Fine House

A Very Fine House

Casa Nostra rolls out traditional Italian fare under the redwoods of Ben Lomond

A trio of restaurateurs with backgrounds at local favorites Star Bene and Oak Tree Ristorante have upgraded the old home of Ciao Bella and created Casa Nostra, a welcoming Italian eatery.

Adjacent to the front door, the long, clean wooden bar is surrounded by pumpkin-colored stools. At the entrance to the dining rooms, there is a new low-slung cafe door hung in the wood-covered arch. Where there once was a stage, stocky wooden tables are neatly arranged perpendicularly on a new tile floor, each set with square white plates and burnt orange cloth napkins.

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Wine Reviews

Food & Wine News

Food & Wine News

What’s happening on the local scene

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s New Casinos IPA Beer
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing has just launched its latest beer—called Casinos—in collaboration with the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Casinos will be available throughout the Boardwalk, at local retailers and, of course, at SCMB’s very own taproom in the Swift Street Courtyard complex.

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Dining Reviews

From Rough Seas to the Trees

From Rough Seas to the Trees

Former owner of Wharf Bait Shop makes a splash with Felton Italian deli

The students at San Lorenzo Valley High School may be some of the luckiest in the county since the opening of Castelli’s Deli-Café last summer. Adjacent to the school’s parking lot, the restaurant serves pizza, salads, sandwiches, desserts and ice cream novelties, in addition to caffeinated beverages made from Italian Lavazza coffee.

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Dining Reviews

Country Family Buffet

Country Family Buffet

I was recently encouraged to try the all-you-can eat weekend brunch buffet at Mollie’s Country Kitchen in Scotts Valley. It’s a farmhouse-style feast, and with the recent spate of beautiful mornings, the outdoor seating is a refreshing sojourn.

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Wine Reviews

Vine & Dine: Poetic Cellars

Vine & Dine: Poetic Cellars

Syrah 2006—A Well-versed
Wine and Poetry Lover’s Dream

Poetic Cellars makes the most romantic wines. With a verse or two of beautiful poetry on every label, mostly poems of love and romance, this is the perfect wine to open up over dinner with your sweetheart. I particularly love winemaker Katy Lovell’s Syrah ($28) with its voluptuous velvety textures and dark fruit flavors.

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Dining Reviews

The Pleasure of Süda

The Pleasure of Süda

Eastside venue wins points for its imaginative menu, stellar service and welcoming atmosphere

Süda is a happening place. As my friend Jan and I were enjoying dinner, every table in the restaurant filled up and nearly all the outdoor seating was occupied as well. Located in the Pleasure Point area, Süda is a magnet for just about everybody hanging out in that neck of the woods.

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Wine Reviews

Vine & Dine: Pine Ridge Vineyards

Vine & Dine: Pine Ridge Vineyards

Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2012

On a recent trip to Palm Springs, I came across Pine Ridge Vineyards’ Chenin Blanc + Viognier at a new downtown restaurant called Lulu. Superbly decorated in Hollywood-esque style and with a very hip vibe, this California bistro is one of the hottest new dining spots—and the Chenin Blanc was just the right wine to pair with some of Lulu’s Happy Hour tapas-style food. And eating outdoors in the desert’s warm night air makes a chilled white wine taste even better.

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Dining Reviews

May Day in the Alps

May Day in the Alps

An extensive repertoire of German favorites brings us back to Tyrolean Inn

When my daughter returns to Santa Cruz from her new home in Los Angeles, she comments on how quiet it is here. It was even more so during a trip to Ben Lomond, when we set out for a sample of her second favorite macaroni and cheese. Sitting at the front of the Tyrolean Inn restaurant, the green tarp with plastic windows kept out the chill as well as the noise of an occasional passing car. A new draft beer celebrating the German spring, Maibok ($6) was refreshing, served in a hefty glass stein, but specialty cocktails are unique as well.

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Wine Reviews

Vine and Dine: Manzoni Vineyards

Vine and Dine: Manzoni Vineyards

Chardonnay 2011

It’s nice to get out of Dodge, as they say, and indulge in completely different surroundings—even if it’s just an hour’s drive down the coast. My husband and I love to go to Carmel and Monterey, and over time we have stayed in an amazing assortment of interesting hotels and bed & breakfasts places.

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Dining Reviews

Step on up to the Bar

Step on up to the Bar

It’s time to dive into the healthy array of local salad buffets

Here in Santa Cruz County, we are privileged to have farm-fresh greens year-round. Making a nightly salad at home is a snap since the emergence of pre-washed greens, and vinaigrette dressing is made easily with your favorite vinegar and small spoon of Dijon mustard whisked with a bit of olive oil.

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Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
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Foodie File: Beer Thirty

Cups runneth over at Soquel’s new beer garden

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

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

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.