Dining Reviews

15 Years of Fresh Pasta, La Posta Still a Seabright Staple

Plus, Downtown Santa Cruz Mediterranean fave, Laili Restaurant, reopens for takeout and delivery

Rodrigo Serma prepares portobello mushrooms in La Posta’s kitchen. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Succulent braised pork, kale and black currants filled soft rolled cannelloni ($27), dusted with parmesan inside and out. Our dining partner made murmuring sounds as he ate, often reaching for the glass of excellent Sagrantino-Sangiovese blend ($12.75) that has become his La Posta favorite. He graciously shared a bite for me to admire. Musicians Paul Rangell and Emily Abbink put the full house of courtyard diners in a festive mood, playing mostly Italianate, but often wandering into Tyrolean and klezmer variations on their vast repertoire of folkloric classics. Wednesdays are now neighborhood night at La Posta, for those who enjoy having dinner to the animated sounds of violin, mandolin and guitar.

We started our dinner to honor 15 years of memorable dining at the Seabright restaurant with a shared appetizer that remains one of my all-time La Posta favorites. Large shreds of smoked trout, joined fingerling potatoes and diagonal slices of fresh snap peas, in a vinaigrette infused with fermented Fresno chilis, lemon and garlic ($17). An amazing cascade of flavors and textures, and our three forks made short work of the dish. Jack and I each enjoyed glasses of Piemontese Dolcetto ($11.50), a soft, lively red wine that tunes well with the cuisine, especially my secondi of fregola (similar to Israeli couscous), in a saffron-seafood broth dotted with scallops, tiny clams and shrimp. A slice of the house sourdough toast helped soak up every aromatic bit of broth. Jack chose roast Fogline Farm chicken, the only gluten-free entree on the menu, and was rewarded with a wide bowl of plump chicken and fat triangles of pan-seared polenta, topped with marinated chanterelles ($30). A chicken dish that transcended expectations.

La Posta, the sister establishment of downtown’s Soif, opened its doors on Dec. 7, 2006. Founded by Patrice Boyle, the restaurant began with Chris Avila as chef. Fresh pastas, the incredible breads—the house walnut-rosemary belongs in a hall of fame—locally sourced ingredients and sophisticated desserts all distinguished the restaurant from day one. Weekly dinner music performed by Emily and Paul added to the welcome of neighborhood night. After a 10-year residency by chef Katherine Stern, the kitchen is now the territory of chef Rodrigo Serna, who’s been with Boyle’s restaurants since the beginning. The inspiration for LaPosta came from Boyle’s years of living and traveling through Italy—and her particular interest in the wines of Italy. The interior of the 115-year-old former Post Office attracts regulars who love the sleek banquettes and cozy bar seating. But I’ve fallen in love with the Italian-wine-garden ambience of the outside dining area, strewn with tiny lights, heat lamps, and flat out wonderful food.

La Posta, 538 Seabright Ave., 831-457-2782, lapostarestaurant.com.

Laili’s BackA luscious and colorful Moroccan salad of marinated beets, coriander, arugula and goat cheese, joined with a lemony butterflied trout was my re-entry dish from the newly-reopened Laili Restaurant. The lamb kabob with perfumed saffron rice and those fiery and complex chutneys made my partner happy. At home we consumed these dishes with our current house red, a Cinsault from Birichino. Right now, Laili is take-away only—but any minute, I’m told, we’ll be able to dine inside and in the courtyard once again. Stay tuned. Takeout and delivery, Wed-Sat. 4-8pm. Laili, 101B Cooper St., Santa Cruz. lailirestaurant.com.

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