Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Dec 29th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Italian Village

dining_featureThe Star Bene family offers Old World hospitality with its Italian recipes

quartet of old friends discussed business and life over dinner, joined later by a woman and young boy. The table then erupted in excitement as Grandmother made her entrance. As is characteristic of European neighborhood restaurants, it was from this table that Sergio Di Sarro, an owner of Star Bene, arose to welcome us into his dining room.

On this particular mid-week evening, the back patio was empty. Inside the home, plastered walls with rounded corners were faux-painted in delicate colors, and were romantically illuminated by numerous lights. A bottle of Sangiovese, one of our favorite varietals, miraculously decorated our table, which was also stocked with crayons for adorning the clean white paper tablecloth covers.

Strips of focaccia were served first with a plate holding samples of three condiments. Tomato purée, dark minced olive tapenade and gently-roasted garlic were all drizzled with olive oil. We then proceeded to enjoy a trio of flavorful appetizers.

The crisply-toasted Bruschetta ($5) was topped with chopped tomatoes and flavorful feta-style cheese. A plate of thinly-sliced smoked Atlantic Salmone Affumicato ($11.95) was dotted with tart capers and held a dollop of thick, white mascarpone and a sprig of fresh dill.  The creamy cheese spread nicely on the focaccia, which we then topped with folds of pink fish, capers, and thin leaves of dill.

Although Star Bene has both a small Caesar Salad ($6.95) and a larger version with grilled chicken breast ($9.95), the Star Bene Insalata ($8.95) was enticing. Fresh mozzarella was wrapped with prosciutto and baked until mostly melted, topped with a spoonful of basil pesto, and served atop lightly dressed green and red-veined lettuces.

My favorite pasta here is Farfalle Alla Russa ($16.95). Bowtie pasta is tossed with soft smoked salmon in a tomato-vodka cream sauce. The vodka's alcohol is instrumental in delivering some of the tomatoes' otherwise undetectable flavor compounds.

On this visit we tried two different dishes which were both served in ample shallow bowls. Fettuccini Alla Diavola ($16.95), which refers to the devil, featured both tiger prawns and shrimp with thinly-sliced mushrooms, garlic, and marvelous house-made flat noodles. The spicy bite of the light marinara sauce left the palate pleasantly aglow.

The generous mountain of Spaghetti Puttanesca ($14.95) was swirled like a tornado. Coated in a light marinara with chopped tomatoes, it included thin strips of greens, capers, kalamata olives and pieces of tuna fish.

From the colorful dessert menu we couldn't resist Dark Chocolate Profiteroles ($7). Three small cream puffs were filled with Chantilly cream, a sweetened and flavored whipped heavy cream. They were then covered with rich, soft, fondant-like chocolate, sprinkled with cocoa powder, and served with another soft cloud of Chantilly cream.


Star Bene Ristorante Italiano, 21245 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 479-4307. Beer and wine. Serving dinner nightly 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Visit star-bene.com
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Dancing In the Rain

District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Let My People Go

There’s a lot to like in Ridley Scott’s maligned ‘Exodus’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Best Bites of 2014

A look back at the year in good taste

 

What downtown business is good for both one-stop shopping and last-minute gifts?

The Homeless Garden Project store. Because it is a community effort and has really useful and beautiful things, and allows you to connect with a lot of folks who are doing great work in Santa Cruz. Miriam Greenberg, Santa Cruz, UCSC Professor

 

Vino Tabi Winery

One of Santa Cruz’s most happening areas to go wine tasting is in the westside’s Swift Street Courtyard complex. Ever since a group of about a dozen wineries got together and formed Surf City Vintners (SCV), the place has been a hive of activity, and a wine-tasting mecca. Adding to the mix is the lively Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing beer company—making Swift Street Courtyard a perfect spot for a glass of wine or a pitcher of ale.

 

Betty’s Eat Inn

Yes, she’s a real person; no, this isn’t her