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Apr 18th
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Dining

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

Dining Reviews

Wake up and Smell the Pizza

Wake up and Smell the Pizza

Santa Cruz's home of the original pizza dance has parlayed its expertise with dough and toppings into some tasty weekend brunch fare. The scent of strong coffee seemed unusual at Kianti's, but welcome on a sleepy Saturday morning. Breakfast Pizzas ($11.95/$19.95), pizza dough pastries ($6.95 to $7.95), and Scrambles and Wraps ($8.95) pair just as well with Bloody Marys ($5) and bottomless Mimosas ($10).

Four scrambles can be wrapped in a flour or whole wheat tortilla and are served with fruit, pasta salad, or chips and house-made salsa. You can also design your own scramble (or pizza) from an abbreviated list of your favorite pizza toppings.

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Wine Reviews

Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards

Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards

Chardonnay 2009

I tasted this lovely Chardonnay at Paradise Beach Grille in Capitola at the Wine & Crab Taste-Off held last month. (Other participating restaurants in the Taste-Off were Café Cruz, Ma Maison and Sanderlings.) This splendid event is not only a golden opportunity to compare some specially presented crab delicacies—as the restaurants compete for best dish—but also to sample some excellent local wines. This crustacean-centered event takes place every January, and is organized by the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association.

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Dining Reviews

Extreme Makeover

Extreme Makeover

Golden Palace brings luxurious Chinese dining to Midtown

Impeccable decor at the new Golden Palace is accompanied by friendly service, and with more than 170 dishes to choose from, mild or spicy, vegetarian or omnivorous, there are numerous tastes to be treasured.

At night, red paper lanterns and white icicle lights highlight the golden brick exterior. Inside I was greeted by a highly carved chair and familiar shimmering wallpaper. Golden Palace is a sister to Dynasty on Portola Drive in Santa Cruz, and our server said the owner designed everything, right down to his shiny black shirt emblazoned with a sequined dragon. New tall-backed booths offer privacy and are decorated with gilded plastic dragons, as is the circular table which seats 14.

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Dining Reviews

Lighten Up

Lighten Up

In my columns I focus on the best edibles our local cooks and chefs have to offer, and avoid chain restaurants, especially national ones. I rarely eat fast food, anyway.

But, there are extenuating circumstances, like when the kitchen was being remodeled and I needed a quick breakfast for the school kids, or when the "low on iron" buzzer signals a Whopper Junior emergency. Now you've met the skeletons in my closet.

On one clandestine visit to McDonald's, I was intrigued by the ads for smoothies, yogurt parfaits and oatmeal. I scoffed, recalling the introduction of Caramel Frappe and its 450 calories, for 12-ounces! Could McDonald's actually smaller-size me?

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Wine Reviews

Bartolo

Bartolo

Grenache 2009
About a year ago, I wrote about Barry Jackson’s Cioppino Rosso, a blend of different wines that winemaker Jackson laughingly calls Cioppino because he “throws all the leftovers in a pot.” He’s referring, of course, to his vivacious blend of several wines—just as the cioppino fish stew is a mixture of fish and shellfish thrown into a pot.

Now, on a somewhat more serious note, it’s time to write about Jackson’s Grenache. A majority of Grenache grapes (there is only 4 percent Syrah added), this wine has the typical enticing aromas of earth and stewed fruits.

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Dining Reviews

Down in the Valley

Down in the Valley

Charming old-school service, fresh ingredients, and a bucolic drive make Scopazzi's a longtime favorite

In 1915 the original Scopazzi's Restaurant building was erected as a hotel by the Locatelli family, housing lumber men and, later, movie stars. The paneled Redwood Dining Room with open-beam ceiling was built in 1924, and the lounge added after the property was sold to the Scopazzis in 1955. There still remain china cabinets and a beautiful marble-topped buffet. And there still remains that old-school San Francisco Italian professionalism; from word-of-mouth orders to the kitchen, to table-side preparation of flaming specialties and dishes like Veal Scaloppine and Chicken Cacciatore.

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Dining Reviews

Salmon and Salad

Salmon and Salad

We headed over to the harbor to experience the Johnny's Harborside Winter Wednesday Cioppino night. As an e-club member, I also had a coupon for two-for-one starters or salads. While "Fresh Catch Your Way" is still a mainstay of the menu, Chef Scott Delk, who arrived at Johnny's after the closing of Theo's, has added his own touch to the fresh and flavorful presentations.

Although Taco and Tequila nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays and house special margaritas are just $7, the combinations were too unique to ignore.

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Dining Reviews

Brew Ha-Ha

Brew Ha-Ha

San Francisco Beer Week hits Santa Cruz

With the holiday season behind us, and St. Patrick’s Day still weeks away, you may find that the prevalence of socially acceptable excuses to enjoy large quantities of beer fall flat this time of year. Never fear, for San Francisco Beer Week lets your cup runneth over with more than 300 Northern California events from Feb. 11–20. Locally, food and beer pairings, beer tastings, educational classes and opportunities to talk with brewers ensure it won’t be hard to find a great stout shindig, ale adventure or porter party.

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Wine Reviews

Birichino

Birichino

Malvasia Bianca 2009

“You can’t be too rich, too beautiful or too birichino”–or so says John Locke, wine director at Soif wine bar in downtown Santa Cruz. Locke is also the winemaker of this lovely crisp white wine, and, along with business partner Alex Krause, have bottled something frisky and very drinkable. I thought it the ideal libation to try with some of Soif’s imaginative cuisine.

Meeting up with some friends on a Monday evening at Soif is a delicious way to start the week. Mondays can be a bit flat, but not at Soif. With soft “Gypsy jazz” from Hot Club Pacific playing in the background and plates of scrumptious oysters begging to be devoured, we toasted good times (and Good Times!) with a bottle of Birichino.

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Dining Reviews

Three Squares and a Snack

Three Squares and a Snack

No matter which meal you prefer, Severino's prepares them all with flair and fresh ingredients

Many hotels lack kitchens while others offer the most basic sustenance. Neither is the case at the Seacliff Inn, where Severino's fuels patrons throughout the day with ambitious wake-ups like Eggs Benedict, a casual lounge menu and filling dinner entrées of Salmon Dijon and rack of lamb.

Severino's serves breakfast daily including omelets, Huevos Rancheros, and lox and bagels. On weekends breakfast is followed by brunch. A nice list of salads ($10.99 to $12.99) includes seared Ahi with roasted red pepper vinaigrette.

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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.

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

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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.