Sergio Di Sarro, co-owner of Star Bene on East Cliff Drive, has some news to announce.
He and his wife Julieta Fernandez Vidal are planning to open a new location in the Scotts Valley area focused on banquets, catering, weddings and receptions. Di Sarro, a surfer, moved to Santa Cruz in the late 1990s, while in pursuit of “the perfect wave,” he says.
He and Fernandez Vidal bought Star Bene, an Italian restaurant, 11 years ago, and quickly incorporated elements from their native Argentina. Curious customers, Di Sarro says, sometimes ask why he combined Argentine and Italian cuisines.
Di Sarro, whose parents immigrated to Argentina from Italy, doesn’t think of his restaurant as some quirky brand of fusion food. To him, his menu is no more surprising than those found at New York-Italian restaurants, created by the descendants of families that traveled to the United States in the aftermath of World War I. “Because immigration,” he says.
What’re you doing right now?
SERGIO DI SARRO: I’m cooking a Bolognese sauce. It’s the sauce you use for ground beef. You cook it with fresh herbs, garlic, strong red wine, fresh tomato, a little bit of homemade marinara.
What vibe do you try to create?
Star Bene used to be more like a fine dining room, but I saw this as a very casual town full of surfers. I’m a surfer, OK? I said, “How come surfers don’t come to Star Bene?” My vibe is best-friendly. We have a special patio. We tend to create a family business feel, because grandma will come to the table, or my brother will come to the table or my 16-year-old son. If you want a romantic corner, we do have a romantic corner, as well. Valentines’—we decorate. But we create a vibe for family. It’s a casual restaurant. I’m trying to make you feel like you’re in your home.
Pizza or empanada?
Empanada, buddy. Soon in the next place, we’re gonna do a little more empanada. You’ll be able to request flavors. You can get big orders. We’re happy and so grateful for this town.
Star Bene. 2-1245 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 479-4307.