Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jan 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Lend Me a Hand

dining_GabriellaSaladGabriella Café blends incredible house-made pasta and charcuterie, local organic produce, sustainable fish and pasture-based beef

To mark our return home and the final day of vacation, my husband and I settled into a cozy table at Gabriella Café. It had been some time and a chef ago since our last visit.

We began the evening with a bottle of unfined and unfiltered Sangiovese from Healdsburg's Peterson winery ($34). Gabriella's famous focaccia that night was topped with green and sweet caramelized onions which took the edge off of our appetites.

We then enjoyed long paper-thin shavings of tender asparagus ($11) dressed with flowery Sevillano olive oil and topped with truffled pecorino sheep's milk cheese and bits of red kohlrabi.

The Mustard Greens salad ($10), a tangle of dark tendrils like a haunted forest but in no way foreboding, featured petite pink and deep purple beets, red onions, walnuts and thin, firm black ovals of blood sausage with a hint of spicy heat mixed with a wonderfully tart whole grain mustard vinaigrette. This plate showcased Gabriella's proud relationships with local entrepreneurs. The greens were from Lindencroft Farm, a CCOF-certified and sustainable farm in Ben Lomond, which not only generates their own power with photovoltaic cells, but also collects thousands of gallons of rainwater for their drip irrigation needs. The sausage was from El Salchichero whose proprietor Chris LaVeque, previously sous-chef at Gabriella and Bonny Doon's Cellar Door Café, uses Lindencroft's herbs as well as free-range and humanely raised pork in his line of charcuterie. LaVeque plans to open a westside butcher shop this summer in the Commons at Ingalls and Swift Street.

Both of our main courses were exceptional. The grass-fed beef plate ($25) featured tomato-braised short ribs over creamy, soft polenta. The tender meat fell into shreds from the wide bones. The chewy Bavette or flank steak, a less common cut that requires precise cooking and slicing, was grilled to perfection and served with smoky, al dente broccolini.

I was amazed by the total blackness of chapeau-like squid ink ravioli ($12 small/$18 large). Large circles of tender, house-made fresh pasta were stuffed with lemony nuggets of California halibut, oil-cured olives and sweet Dungeness crab and dressed with trendy brown butter sauce. Caper berries, which resemble green olives with thin, arching stems, added sour and salty notes.

For dessert, it was Semifreddo ($7). A slice of blood orange and chocolate mousse-like terrine was placed on a chocolate syrup-scored plate and topped with pieces of chopped chocolate and toasted hazelnuts.

Gabriella also serves lunch every weekday, and brunch on the weekends. On Monday nights dogs are invited to accompany their owners on the patio.

I enjoyed a quiet noontime nosh alone on the courtyard patio where the bright spring sun filtered through the corrugated fiberglass roof. The freshly made iced tea ($3) was strong and refreshing. My only disappointment, at both lunch and dinner, was that the servers could not fully answer questions about the chef's creations without a trip to the kitchen. But I again enjoyed the meal just the same.

I started with a salad of peppery baby arugula and sectioned citrus ($9) with almonds and finely sliced fennel bulb. The Satsuma fruit from Japan is similar in size and flavor to a Mandarin orange. The fresh salad was followed by a long white platter of cheese and house-made salumi ($15). The cheese was from Arcata, California, just north of Eureka, where Cypress Grove makes artisinal goat milk cheeses. I spread this earthy and luxurious Truffle Tremor ripened cheese on crisp crostini and red onion-topped focaccia. Sharing the plate were long white strips of cured fat called lardo. Paper-thin slices of smoked duck breast were reddish in color and almost translucent. Three columns of delicate slices of slender salami were a mosaic of peppery meat and large grains of flavorful fat. Another row of salami was finer in texture and also spiced with pepper. All were exceptionally flavorful – much different than mass-produced versions of this ancient art. The attention to detail in both taste and presentation remains in vogue at Gabriella Café.


Gabriella Café, 910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, 457-1677. Beer and wine. Serving lunch weekdays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner nightly from 5:30 p.m.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Jeffrey’s Restaurant

Why quick and friendly service matters at a local diner.

 

If you didn't live in Santa Cruz, where would you be living?

I would live in Kauai because the water is warmer, and I just love it there. Maureen Niehaus, Santa Cruz, Dental Assistant

 

Clos LaChance Wines

Pinot Noir 2012

 

Striking Gold

A taste of Soquel Vineyards’ five gold medal-winning Pinots