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Sep 19th
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Dining

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

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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Wine Reviews

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

Pleasant Valley Vineyards

Sean Boyle Syrah 2008—a sumptuous wine for spring

I love that Craig and Cathy Handley, owners of Pleasant Valley Vineyards, have named their wines after family members, including nieces and nephews. We have Dylan David, Brittany Morgan, Casey Alexander, Abby Madison, Austin Craig—and Sean Boyle Syrah ($40).

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Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Feeding Frenzy

Culinary journey ‘The Trip to Italy’ isn’t the foodie film you’d expect 

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past
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Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.