Pleasure Pizza’s East Side Eatery pairs local produce with pasta, salads, sandwiches, and an array of house-made sauces
For 35 years, Pleasure Pizza has been satisfying hunger pangs of neighbors and surfers from its 41st Avenue corner. The new owner, Derek Rupp, who previously was executive chef at Google, has expanded the business across the street, where, in addition to pizza, his Eastside Eatery serves a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner specialties.
During the fall and winter, breakfast is served only on weekends. Savory House Specials include soft polenta with sausage, eggs and roasted vegetables ($8.99) and Nasi Goreng ($7.99), an Indonesian fried brown rice with onions, chili, garlic, spices, and the sweet Indonesian soy sauce kecap manis.
Sweet, unfiltered organic apple juice ($4) was served in a sparkling wine tumbler. Omelettes are served with potatoes or fruit and toast or tortillas. The Manlette ($8.99) was meaty with bacon, well-flavored sausage, chorizo, and cheddar cheese folded into a perfect circle of buttercup-yellow egg. The bright accompaniment of strawberries and melon was fresh and welcoming.
Decadent House Specials offer buttermilk pancakes and French toast as well as Blintzes ($7.99) stuffed with soft cheeses and seasonal fruit compote and topped with raspberry sauce.
Similar ingredients embellished the Stuffed French Toast ($8.99), made with two thick slices of cinnamon-laced Texas-style Toast topped with stewed strawberries and peaches. I dipped fat pieces into a pitcher of warm maple syrup and timbales of smooth, vanilla-infused whipped cream and fresh raspberry purée.
During lunch, diners were enjoying the sunny patio. Kind and enthusiastic servers added much to the experience. Pasta dishes, with choice of penne, linguini, farfalle or gluten-free rice sticks include The Abyss ($11.99) with fresh basil pesto-sauced sautéed prawns, and Asian-themed Spicy Plum ($10.99) with rice noodles, plum sauce, sprouts, carrots, green onion and cilantro with either tofu or chicken breast.
Enticing meal salads ($6.50 to 9.99) include the Full Moon Session with organic spinach, strawberries, blue cheese and candied walnuts, dressed with peppermint-infused balsamic reduction.
Attractive sandwiches range from the Grilled Very Veggie ($8.99) with avocado, roasted red peppers, sprouts, tomato and Dijonnaise, to slow-cooked Beef Brisket ($9.99) with BBQ sauce and grilled onions. They are all served with either fries, house-made soup or a side salad with numerous unique dressings including sesame-soy, chipotle-Caesar and red wine vinaigrette.
From the appetizer list I ordered the Pizza Fries ($4.75). Slices of baked pizza crust were sprinkled with Parmesan. I chose the chipotle pesto dip, enjoying its thick, smoky and mildly spicy flavor.
The vegan Black Bean Chili included firm beans in a thick, aromatic brick-red broth with peppers and onion.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich ($9.99), in a flower-dusted ciabatta roll, featured thinly sliced grilled chicken, Canadian bacon and melted Swiss cheese with romaine lettuce and tomato.
Seasoned pulled pork with ham and Swiss cheese and crunchy sliced pickle was stacked inside the Cuban Sandwich ($9.99). The side salad of mixed baby lettuces, cucumber and chopped tomato was lightly dressed with mellow jalapeño-lime vinaigrette.
Pleasure Pizza’s Eastside Eatery, 800 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, 431-6058. Beer and wine. Serving breakfast Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. until noon. Lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. Visit pleasurepizzasc.com.