Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Sep 22nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Long Live the Linguini

dining_RistoranteItalianoCelebrating 30 years, Ristorante Italiano's bright flavors and generous portions ensure its distinction as a local favorite

I'm fortunate to occasionally work in Branciforte Plaza, where the aroma of Ristorante Italiano's roasting garlic wafts across the parking lot. Many reasonably priced specials grace the lunch menu, which I happily order to savor in the office. One day, as the sun set, waves of laughter emanate from the heated patio deck, where groups gather to relax after work, and families celebrate birthdays. On the building's exterior, an extraordinary three-story mural depicting an Italian avenue adds a whimsical touch.

In the restaurant's main dining area, where ceiling joists are painted a lively green and autographed straw-encased Chianti bottles commemorate dinners of the past, subdued lighting and romantic booths set the stage for the spectacle of Italian specialties. A ceiling fan turned slowly, barely rustling the thin leaves of a tall parlor palm in the solarium-like front room.

There’s much to savor here. Spaghetti Margherita ($7.95) with grill-marked chicken breast (add $2) is a wonderful medley of pasta tossed with olive oil, parmesan, and fresh tomatoes, green onions and basil. Topped with mozzarella and baked, this simple dish, which makes two my-size meals, is absolutely redolent of garlic. The Margherita Pizza ($10.95), in addition to fresh tomatoes and basil, includes garlic as well, but roasted to bring out its sweetness.

From a comfortable bench seat at a corner table, we ordered Clams Genovese ($12.95), the night's appetizer special. Tender Manila clams popped easily from their shells into a memorable white wine broth thickened with cream. Four broiled sections of Parmesan-topped garlic herb bread soaked up the flavorful sauce.

Entrées are served with either soup or salad. Ristorante's impeccable thick, dark minestrone, even better in the evenings as the flavors intensify, included two kinds of beans, elbow macaroni and soft pieces of spiced sausage. I upgraded my salad to a Caesar ($1) with classic creamy dressing and topped heartily with shredded Parmesan. Much larger than a typical side salad, the hearts and green leaves were so fresh and crisp I could practically taste the water inside.

My husband and I had just agreed that the clams and salad would have made a fine meal by themselves when our entrées arrived. Prawns Parma ($21.95) was served in an oval casserole, and appeared large enough to feed a family of three. Tubes of al dente penne pasta were tossed with thin, crisp, salty pieces of prosciutto ham, Parmesan, bright green peas that popped in my mouth, prawns, and just enough to cream to keep it moist. It was then baked to brown its topping of cheese.

From the specials board, Ristorante's Linguini Primavera ($21.95) was enhanced with plump rock shrimp and prosciutto, tossed in olive oil and cream with mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, crookneck squash, tomatoes and bell peppers.

There would be no room for dessert on this night, but it was still comforting to eye the cheesecake and cannoli in the display case on the way to the door.


Ristorante Italiano, 555 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 458-2321. Full bar. Serving lunch Monday through Friday, at 11:30 a.m., and dinner nightly at 5 p.m. Visit ristoranteital.com

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Catwalk on the Wild Side

Meet the artists and designers behind this year’s edition of FashionART, SantaCruz’s most outrageous fashion show

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Watch List

From Google to the government to data brokers, why your privacy is now a thing of the past

 

The Peace Equation

Sunday is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, a global peace-building day when nations, leaders, governments, communities and individuals are invited to end conflict, cease hostilities, creat 24 hours of non-violence and promote goodwill. Monday is Autumn equinox as the Sun enters Libra (right relations with all of life). The Soul Year now begins. We work in the dark part of the year (Persephone underground) preparing for the new light of winter solstice. Tuesday to Wednesday is the Virgo new moon festival. We know two things about peace. “The absence of war does not signify peace.” And “Peace is an ongoing process.” In its peace-building emphasis, the UNIDP, through education, attempts to create a “culture of peace, understanding and tolerance”. Esoterically we are reminded of the peace equation: “Intentions for goodwill (and acting upon this intention) create right relations with all earth’s kingdoms which create (the ongoing process of) peace on earth.” At noon on Sunday, in all time zones, millions of participating groups will observe a moment of silence for peace on earth. Bells will ring, candles will be lit, and doves released as the New Group of World Servers recite the Great Invocation (humanity’s mantram of direction). To connect with others around the world see www.cultureofpeace.org    Let us join together with the mother (Virgo). Goodwill to all, let peace prevail on earth. The dove is the symbol for the day.
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sweet Treats

Local cannabis bakers win award for cookies

 

What fashion trends do you want to see, or not see?

Santa Cruz  |  High School Guidance Counselor

 

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

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

My memories of growing up in England include my mother pouring port after Sunday dinner—and sometimes a glass of sherry before dinner. My family didn’t drink much wine back then, but we certainly made up for it with the port and sherry.