As a child living at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ralph DiTullio spent his Sunday afternoons brewing hearty sauces side by side with his grandfather in preparation for the family dinner. As the smell of tomatoes filled the kitchen, his mother and grandmother cut and boiled fresh pastas. On other occasions, he found himself in the cool darkness of the garage, where his grandfather smashed and fermented his own grapes to make wine. Today, nearly all the recipes at Nonno's Italian Cafe build on the hearty Italian dishes Ralph’s mother and grandmother used to make. In the small mountaintop cafe, Ralph cultivates this same sense of familial bonding with new patrons and usual crowds alike, proffering updates on current weather and traffic to callers from the valley below.
While Ralph begins each day crafting potato-filled breakfast burritos and freshly baked turnovers, his lunch and dinner menus transition into traditional Italian fare, such as pastas stuffed with cheese or topped with artichokes and meatballs. He and his culinary crew fire pizzas outside in a wood oven, stacking each with Mediterranean vegetables and barbecued meats with greater care than an artist painting a still-life jenga tower. Every Friday and Saturday, the staff fires up the barbecue for sizzling steaks and sausages. To complement both hearty and light fare, the culinary crew keeps a cellar of nearly 2,000 wine labels and up to 70 beers, replenishing their stock with selections from mostly small international vintners and brewers. They present a changing roster of these wines at weekly tastings to suit different themes and keep the wines from becoming codependent with the house crystal. While all sampling services are kept at small sizes indoors, they can spill outside to bocce-ball courts with courtside seating for up to 150.
Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
After 16 years spent with Kona Coffee, MJA Owner Marin Artukovich took up residence in Napa Valley, where he renovated an idyllic estate on the side of Howell Mountain before opening the MJA Tasting Room in March of 2010. With the help of local winemaker Mikael Wargin, Marin’s vineyard produces cabernets, sauvignon blancs, and pinot noirs reflecting the terroir of Napa Valley and the Santa Cruz mountains, with bottles for sale through its very own Serene and DaVine cellars. Cups of house-roasted Hawaiian Kona Coffee cap off each tasting, warming hands and souls inside MJA’s gorgeous brick-walled estate or on a heated patio overlooking the Santa Cruz mountains.
The piney scents of douglas firs, white firs, and scotch pines waft through the grounds of Summit Christmas Tree Farm, an 80-acre farm located just east of Highway 17. After finding a tree of the right size and height, customers take part in a time-honored holiday tradition: chopping it down with tools provided by the farm. All that chopping can work up an appetite, which is why the Cub Scouts operate an onsite snack shack.
Fitness guru Kristen Horler developed Baby Boot Camp after she gave birth to her first child and realized the lack of appropriate prenatal and postnatal training programs currently available. The stroller-based fitness classes are designed to help moms get fit in a supportive and empathetic environment, combining strength-training exercises, cardiovascular drills, Pilates, yoga, and ab work. Eliminating the need for a babysitter and facilitating familial bonding, students are encouraged to bring along their new bundle and even use the stroller as a resistance tool. To ensure your utmost safety, all instructors are highly trained and certified, and the boot camp's structure abides by the guidelines of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Council on Exercise.
Almost all of the foodstuffs at Santa Cruz Local Foods hail from farms within a hundred-mile radius, making a weekly shopping trip as eco-friendly as it is convenient. After ordering online, you’ll have a box ready for either pickup or delivery the following Tuesday, packed with eight selections of the season's ripest produce, such as sweet potatoes, apples, avocados, pod-people pods, and lettuce. Bread, cheese, and olive oil might round out your pic-a-nic basketload of fresh, healthy vittles. Besides filling your body with fruit that doesn't have the waxy aftertaste of wax fruit, a box of goodies from Santa Cruz Local Foods fits your carbon footprint into the daintiest sandal and supports family farms in the community.