Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 23rd
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Down in the Valley

dining_scopazzisCharming old-school service, fresh ingredients, and a bucolic drive make Scopazzi's a longtime favorite

In 1915 the original Scopazzi's Restaurant building was erected as a hotel by the Locatelli family, housing lumber men and, later, movie stars. The paneled Redwood Dining Room with open-beam ceiling was built in 1924, and the lounge added after the property was sold to the Scopazzis in 1955. There still remain china cabinets and a beautiful marble-topped buffet. And there still remains that old-school San Francisco Italian professionalism; from word-of-mouth orders to the kitchen, to table-side preparation of flaming specialties and dishes like Veal Scaloppine and Chicken Cacciatore.

Here we finally were, almost one hundred years since the founding, to experience the allure of Boulder Creek's favorite restaurant. We decided to dine in the lounge where the wood-burning fireplace was aglow and large windows shed light into the room. The lounge menu includes hot and cold appetizers and desserts, but lunch and dinner menus can also be enjoyed in the in the company of two flat-screen televisions.

A la carte entrées include a selection of pastas ($14 to $21), House Specialties of beef, seafood, lamb, duck and lobster ($21 to $45) and full dinners ($24 to $29).

Our dishes arrived at a very leisurely pace. First came the antipasto plate with pickled pepperoncini peppers, crisp vegetables and a remarkable salad of herbed al dente lentils.

We picked six inky tender morsels of Escargots Bourguignonne ($8) out of their shells, dipping them in the butter and wine sauce—in which I also dredged pieces of sourdough bread.

As a prime example of old school service with the flair of performance art, both Caesar and Spinach Salads ($16) for two are prepared tableside. On the cart, a bit of bacon was heated in a skillet atop a propane burner. Oil, Dijon mustard and a bit of Worcestershire sauce were added, and then a splash of cognac which set it all aflame. Spinach was then mixed into this dressing and lightly wilted.

Black peppercorns and a tan sauce coated the flambéed New York Peppersteak ($28) which was served with rich pilaf-style rice and lightly sautéed vegetables.

Having not approached venison since I was a child (except on the golf course), I ordered the Venison Roast ($27) cooked medium-rare. The meat was dark, lean and dense, but tender, and topped with shiitake mushrooms in a fragrant port wine sauce. A large piped mountain of mashed potatoes topped with sweet pea shoots accompanied the entrée along with carrots and French green beans.

For dessert, the Godiva Parfait ($6.50), with ice cream and whipped cream, was drizzled generously with Godiva Chocolate Liqueur.

Although Scopazzi's is normally open Wednesday through Sunday, they are pleased to make an exception for your Valentine's Day dinner on Monday Feb. 14, when they will be opening at 5 p.m.

Scopazzi's Restaurant and Lounge, 13300 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, 338-6441. Full bar. Serving lunch Wednesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Visit

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by author, February 16, 2011
Jim, I struggled with that myself. Boulder Creek may be "up" from Santa Cruz, but it's still a valley, which is "down"? Well, at least it's down from Big Basin and Summit Rd. ;-)
Scoppazi's Review
written by JimC, February 09, 2011
Good food, nice review but shouldn't that be "up in the valley" unless you were "gettin' down" up here.
and the patio is dog-friendly!
written by Bonnie Apetit, February 09, 2011
Love a great doggie & docent led hike at Big Basin on Sundays at 10am... and then a great meal with my pooch at Scopazzi's on their patio. Couldn't have a better time!

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