Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 16th
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Fast Forward

dining_CaffeTazzinaWhen a new restaurant hangs up its shingle, a stream of happy goose bumps runs down my spine. Theoretically, I should allow a newcomer to get its feet firmly on the ground before writing about them, but my palate is just too impatient.

And so it was with Caffe Tazzina which opened in the space recently vacated by Black China Bakery on Soquel Avenue. At the helm is Katelin Brightman, previously of Black China, in partnership with Tim O'Connor. Caffe Tazzina is also a brand of coffee made locally by O'Connor at Pacific Espresso.

There are numerous coffee certifications that aim to improve social, economic, and environmental impacts of coffee growing, but none encompasses all three. For instance, fair trade coffees aren't necessarily organic. O'Connor prefers to mix the best aspects of these grower certifications. Coffee certification labs in Peru and India teach farmers to improve product quality, ensuring the highest price. Pacific Espresso maintains direct relationships with these labs to find the best beans. Each grower also conforms to one of the other certifications as well.

The menu at Caffe Tazzina caters to both vegetarians and carnivores.  For lunch, I enjoyed a Warm Chèvre Salad ($6.50) in the bright, yet spartan front dining room. A beautiful mix of organic baby lettuces in light vinaigrette was sprinkled with goat cheese, plenty of spicy red onion rings, and halved cherry tomatoes. Additional creamy goat cheese was spread on three thick, warm, crisp-crusted ovals of francesi bread. I would have fancied the pecans and kalamata olives that were missing.

Enjoy oatmeal, granola or scones on the comfortable patio as well as steamed eggs and breakfast cakes. My next meal will include a hot turkey sandwich with Genoa salami, marinated artichoke hearts, and Havarti cheese. | KP

Caffe Tazzina, 1121 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Beer and wine. Open Monday through Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday until 4 p.m., and Friday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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