Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Feb 11th
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

 

Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Making Dreams

Coen brothers salute vintage Hollywood in sly comedy ‘Hail, Caesar!’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Pub Watch

Mega gastro pub-in-progress at the Old Sash Mill, plus the best pasta dish downtown

 

How do you know love is real?

When you feel the groove in your heart and you’re inspired to dance. Becca Bing, Boulder Creek, Teacher

 

Temple of Umami

Watsonville’s Miyuki is homestyle cooking, Japanese-style

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster