Dining Reviews

Flats Bistro

foodie rioPizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

Jeanne Harrison is kind of a miracle worker. After managing Cafe Rio in Aptos for 20 years and watching it go out of business for two of those years, she had a chance to buy it three years ago, and revived its heyday of great seafood on the beach.

But she always looked across the courtyard at the coffee shop next door and thought about what she could do with it. Finally, she had a chance to buy it also, and opened a month ago as Flats Bistro. The name comes from the Rio del Mar flats, the cul de sac of a beach that draws locals and tourists.

Flats offers coffee, açaí bowls, housemade pastries and exotic wood-fired pizzas at affordable prices.

GT: Why Pizza?

JEANNE HARRISON: Because I love pizza! It’s artisan pizza and there’s nothing like it nearby. We have a sourdough crust and organic local produce. We have three types by the slice and six for whole pizzas. You’re at the beach, you walk over and grab a pizza. It’s a slam dunk.

How did you come up with the recipes?

We asked people on our Facebook page what kinds of pizza they would like to see. Their response was great. I would never have thought of putting salmon on a pizza with dill aioli, capers and lemon vinaigrette, but someone did and it’s over-the-top, super good. That’s called the Palo Alto ($15). Some of the others are the Margarita ($13) with fire-roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil and the Wild Mushroom ($14) with portabella, cremini and shiitake mushrooms.

What else are you working on?

Gluten free is the big request, but everything I’ve tried tastes like cardboard. I’ve got one I’m working on with a cauliflower crust. I like it.

Why have two restaurants next door to each other? Are you competing with yourself?

Cafe Rio is more formal and Flats is very informal. You can take it to go. It’s quick. It fills a need in this area. Having two restaurants next door is better than having them miles apart. I walk like seven miles a day just going between them. If it was in a different location, jeez, that would be awful. I’m glad it’s next door.

Why coffee?

So many people are out walking along the beach, there was a void. There was no good coffee for them. I’m a coffee person. We use Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting coffee and try to keep it all local.

Flats Bistro is at 113 Esplanade, Aptos. 661-5763. PHOTO: Jeanne Harrison and her staff at Rio del Mar’s Flats Bistro, which offers coffee, pastries, açaí bowls and wood-fired pizzas to go.  BRAD KAVA

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