Dining Reviews

Naturally Delicious

dining avantisaladPizzeria Avanti fires up its new oven for a taste of New York

Although Ristorante Avanti moved to another location on the same street, it left pieces of itself behind. Pieces of pizza that is, as well as a couple of their popular salads.
Now, Pizzeria Avanti continues Avanti’s long-observed tradition of using local organic produce, naturally raised meats and sustainable seafood, as well as in-house baking of bread.

The restaurant’s wood-clad interior, ringed with colorful pottery, feels familiar, as does the photocopied seasonal menu written in old-school typewriter font. The focused bill of fare offers a soup ($6), antipasti, salad, pizza, lasagna of the day with a green salad ($14), and calzone stuffed with fresh ricotta, prosciutto ham and mozzarella ($13).

To start with, free-range Rocky chicken wings ($8) join plates of pickled vegetables with either salumi or cheese ($10), or both ($16). We grazed first on Country-style Garlic Bread ($4) made with narrow, soft baguettes and topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. The Caesar Salad ($7) with Parmesan and crisp romaine was dressed with a very mild anchovy-garlic dressing.

The incredible roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad ($9), which is also served at the Ristorante, included still-firm butternut squash, iron-rich frisée, pancetta bacon, meaty yellow-eyed peas, and tiny, plump, roasted squash seeds.

The special salad of the day was a rendition of Salade Niçoise ($10), which also was quite delightful. Made with spinach and plated with a hard-boiled egg, it was tossed with vinegar-marinated red onions, potato, kalamata olives, a red chili pepper and white chunks of sustainably caught tuna.

Avanti’s pizzas are of the New York variety, right down to the Marsal and Sons gas oven, which is lined with refractory bricks that absorb moisture, crisp the crust and maintain even heat.

There are seven house pizzas available sized small (12 inches) and large (16 inches), as well as a gluten-free crusts in a 10.5-inch size. They can all be ordered half-and-half and customized with 15 toppings. dining avantipizzaA couple of interesting combinations include apple with sweet gorgonzola and radicchio, and wild nettles with cream, walnuts, and pecorino cheese.

To the New York with thin, spicy slices of pepperoni ($14/$22), we added spicy spirals of red Calabrian chili peppers ($2) and bits of Santa Cruz’s organic Rodoni Farm artichoke hearts ($4). The crust’s rim was nicely puffed, its underside delicately crisped.

The house-made sausage pizza ($16/$26), also with Calabrian peppers and juicy with sauce, was topped with red onion and dotted with rich ricotta cheese in addition to molten mozzarella.

To the basic New York  cheese pizza ($10/$20) we added garlic-infused salametto ($4), an earthy, small-diameter salami. Hailing from Berkeley’s Fra’ Mani, the pork comes from animals naturally raised on family farms, fed with grain and natural feeds, and receiving neither hormones nor antibiotics. 

The house-made desserts which were centered around ice cream included a chocolate cookie sandwich filled with vanilla gelato ($5), vanilla gelato topped with espresso ($4), root beer float ($7), and a seasonal fruit crisp à la mode ($8).  

 Pizzeria Avanti, 1711 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 425-1807. Serving lunch weekdays from 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and dinner nightly from 5 p.m. Visit ristoranteavanti.com

Neighborfood Santa Cruz
On Sunday April 14, Dischrawl’s Neighborfood makes its debut in Santa Cruz at 2 p.m. While Dishcrawl began as a way to explore foods in a neighborhood, it is reimagining the ways in which people experience eating in their local communities.

Billed as a “celebration of food, family, and the community we live in,” each ticket to this family-friendly event enables the holder to have a taste of restaurants’ specialties at eight different venues.

Registration will take place at Pono Hawaiian Grill, where diners will receive directions to the eight establishments which they can visit in any order. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Grind Out Hunger.

Discounts to events are sometimes posted on Dishcrawl’s facebook page. I’m just sayin’.

 Dishcrawl’s Neighborfood event, Sunday April 14th 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. Cost $40 advance/$45 at the door. Little ones are welcome to share a ticket. Visit discrawl.com/Santa Cruz.


Route 1 Farms Summer Dinner Series
The popular farm-to-table event has announced three evening get-togethers, which historically have sold out quickly.

On June 30 join Soif’s Chef Santos Majano at the farm’s Ocean Street Extension.

On Aug. 11, Chef Melissa Reitz of westside’s Bantam will command the kitchen at Rancho del Osos along Waddell Creek.

They’ll return to Ocean Street Extension on Sept. 29, which features Chef Damani Thomas of Oswald. 

Each dinner features a welcome session, and a tour of the farm which will lead to the venue where dinner will be prepared right in the field. Denis Hoey’s Odonata Wines will be featured at each event.

 Tickets are $100, ($85 for Route 1’s CSA shareholders).  For more information, visit route1farms.com/category/news

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