The menu at Main Street Garden is crafted anew each week from ingredients culled from local farm suppliers. Chef Brad Briske and his staff use only pasture-raised meats, sustainable fish, and organic produce, all complemented by a wine list spotlighting local vineyards and a sarsaparilla list spotlighting local bathtubs.
Ristorante Barolo’s sconces and chandelier lighting illuminate Italian cuisine. The Bayview Hotel, originally constructed in the 1870s, elegantly ensconces this romantic restaurant, while other hotels offer romantic dining by placing candles on a vending machine and having a tux-clad waiter press the buttons and jiggle it when necessary. Various paintings adorn the walls surrounding Ristorante Barolo’s white tablecloths, on which housemade pastas and traditional Italian cuisine render the Victorian-styled architecture as redolent as it is resplendent. The dinner menu—refashioned after the restaurant received a facelift courtesy of reality television show Restaurant: Impossible —catalogs linguini with shrimp, calamari, clams, and mussels in a white-wine sauce, as well as chicken breasts stuffed with cheese, pesto, and prosciutto. Each night brings with it live entertainment—from a jazz group on Saturday evenings to classical guitar on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Husband-and-wife owners Joe and Georgette Hammana developed a knack for restauranteering while working in the family restaurant in Beirut, Lebanon. After immigrating to the United States, the duo opened Joe’s Pizza & Subs, which serves New York–style pizza pies and more than 50 sandwiches and burgers. The menu, which contains many of Georgette’s original recipes and grade-school report cards, offers something for everyone, from specialty pizzas to vegan and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The staff at the original location of Pleasure Pizza has spent more than 35 years perfecting their recipes, and they've passed the proverbial pizza torch to a new downtown Santa Cruz location. The restaurant also serves beer and wine along with sandwiches and salads, which chefs craft with an eye to locally sourced ingredients. And, of course, they have pizza?18 different kinds, each hand-crafted with homemade crust, daily.
Like clockwork, the dining room lights begin to flicker and the servers suddenly disappear. Music begins playing and diners are soon treated to a five-minute performance?complete with a choreographed dance number, a series of flames erupting from the grill tops, and a jaw-dropping display of dexterity from the eatery's internationally recognized pizza-spinning competitors. This happens every Friday and Saturday night at Kianti's Pizza & Pasta Bar, and it's exactly the sort of vibrant, festive atmosphere that owners Kelly Kissee and Tracy Parks-Barber wanted to create when they founded the restaurant in 2004.
Applause-inducing entertainment aside, the main goal of the servers and the chefs is to treat their guests to family-style Italian cooking and routine high fives. Diners can customize their own personal pizzas by adding as many as 30 different toppings?including everything from italian sausage and garlic to mushrooms and almonds?before the chefs bake each pie to an oven-crisped golden brown. Additionally, the menu features hearty sub sandwiches, pasta dishes smothered with garlic cream sauce, and hand-formed meatballs.
The only Argentine-inspired restaurant in Santa Cruz, Star Bene serves ?super comfort food,? as described by Christina Walters of Metro Active. Inside the low-lit dining room, which is reminiscent of a beach cottage, servers uncork bottles of Italian and Californian wines to complement swirls of homemade pasta, slow-cooked meats, and diners? ever-rosier cheeks. Star Bene?s chefs use local, free-range meats and organic produce whenever available to create seafood, pastas, and meats complemented by beautifully simple sauces and fresh, stand-alone ingredients.