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Apr 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - 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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Dining - 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 - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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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Dining - 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 - 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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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

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.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

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

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.