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Dec 22nd
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Late, Great Pizza

dining_southbeachPeople flock to San Francisco's South Beach to watch Giants games. You'll find top notch clubs in South Beach, Florida. But at South Beach Pizza Co. in Santa Cruz, I encountered a cheerful server, accommodating kitchen, and pizza just the way I like it. And they're open daily until 11 p.m.

From a tall-stemmed, tulip-shaped glass I enjoyed peppery Liberty Cabernet watching palm trees over the Main Beach volleyball courts oscillating rhythmically with the wind. The old-school CD juke box is free, and tunes from Nirvana, the late Nate Dogg, Lady Gaga and Blink-182 shared airplay.

Running low on bruschetta, the kitchen suggested garlic bread instead ($2.50). Six wide fingers broiled with cheese and fresh garlic were accompanied by chunky, oregano-rich cooked tomato sauce. Complimentary were the three remaining slices of bruschetta, also broiled, and topped with fresh tomato, red onion and basil salsa and crumbles of salty goat cheese.

Next came the 14-inch custom-made pizza ($18.50). The underside of the thin crust was tanned and crisp, leading to fully cooked dough and a cheese-dotted perimeter too savory to leave behind. The nicely herbed Neapolitan-like sauce featured chunks of tomatoes. The topping on one half made it Margherita style with bright fresh basil and just enough real milk mozzarella to deliver a tasty stretch. The Meat Lover’s side was not exactly as listed with the surprise of succulent chicken breast in addition to spicy pepperoni, salami and sliced sausage links. Visitors just might return to Santa Cruz solely for another slice of South Beach's pie.

The menu also includes salads such as Rice with Tuna and Capers and oven-baked subs like the Athena ($7.50) with chicken ($1) combining vegetables, basil pesto, spinach, kalamata olives, goat cheese and feta. | KP


South Beach Pizza Co., 303 Beach St., Santa Cruz, 600-8900. Full bar. Open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.

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