Seabright’s Tramonti makes pizza and pasta the Italian way
Tramonti is a town on the Italian Amalfi Coast in the region of Campania, known for its mozzarella, especially bufala, made from the milk of water buffalos. The town now lends its name to a pizza and pasta restaurant in the Seabright neighborhood that is the product of a dream at least a decade in the making.
Janice Coury visited Italy as part of an exchange program, and said she liked the food so much she stayed for 15 years. In Asti, she particularly liked a pizzeria run by Beppe Vitagliano, and they talked of bringing real Italian-style thin-crust pizza to California. Ten years ago, Coury moved back to her native Santa Cruz with her husband Marco Ginella. Finally Vitagliano and his family arrived as well, and, with the help of restaurant designer Mimi Snowden, designed the family-friendly eatery. Coury and Vitagliano’s wife Daniella are often found in the front of the house, while the pizzaiolo tends to his imported pizza oven.
No longer the dark interior of its predecessor, Taqueria Cancun, massive windows shed light on white table tops and the spacious open kitchen. Two central banquet tables of long, thick, polished slices of a tree with burl-like edges are simply stunning.
Salads ($7 to $12) come in two sizes, with the small ones packed into steep-sided bowls. The children’s menu ($5 to $6) includes pizzas, pasta and lasagna. House-made desserts ($5 to $7) include panna cotta with fresh berries, and tiramisu.
The beer selection consists of Italian imports, a selection from local Uncommon Brewers, and Mountain View’s Tied House on tap, while wines are from Italy or local.
Coury explained that the gas pizza oven offers a more even and dependable heat source than wood. My first treat from its searing interior was Calzone Tramonti ($12). Not folded, two thin, circular pieces of well-floured, blackened dough, puffed with steam, were stuffed with prosciutto cotto, an organic farm egg and oozing melted mozzarella. I thought this would be perfect for brunch, especially with a side of marinara.
Individual 13-inch pizzas ($7 to $12) include white ones with no tomato sauce such as Noci, with mozzarella, Gorgonzola, walnuts and sliced pears. With tomato sauce, you’ll find the Nostromo with Italian tuna and arugula, and Salsiccia with house-made sausage. When Coury delivered the Marguerite, she enthused about the Italian thinness of the crust. Also traditional was the simple, fresh house-made sauce and a light and even coating of still-bubbling mozzarella with fresh basil added just before serving. It was quite filling, even as an appetizer for two.
Pasta ($8 to $13) includes house-made gnocci. Tender pillows of potato-based pasta were dressed in a cheesy white sauce of fontina, Gorgonzola and aged Grana Padano in the rich Alla Bava ($10).
Pesto is made from a special strain of basil grown in the proprietors’ gardens. It is served with little ears of orecchiette pasta, potatoes, and green beans. I enjoyed the hearty house-made fettuccini-like Tagliolini ($10), dressed with Langarolo sauce with ground beef and sausage, and fresh red tomato sauce.
Tramonti, 528 Seabright Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-7248. Open Monday through Saturday noon-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m., and on Sunday 4-10 p.m. Visit Tramonti on Facebook.