The restaurant scene just got a whole lot quieter with the passing of flamboyant chef Lucio Fanni, 66, who has run Caffe Lucio on Soquel Avenue for the past nine years, following two decades of owning restaurants in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.
From the minute he arrived in town, oh, around 20 years ago, Lucio blazed a culinary trail that will live long in our hearts and taste buds. Who could forget Fanni’s larger-than-life presence in the kitchen, where he would gesture, laugh, and sing loudly at whatever fabulous sauce he was making? I know I’ll never forget my first dinner at Lucio’s, back when he had just arrived and occupied a tiny dining room on the ocean side of Seabright Avenue. From his tempting menu, we selected a rustic dish of fettuccine with potatoes and herbs, and sat back with a bottle of wine until our food arrived. The wine was long gone, and the colorful chef—his hair a wild mass of silver encircling his head—had jumped up and down on more than one table before our dinner finally arrived. With his steaming sauté pans, endless high spirits, and brilliant cooking skills, he knew he was the main attraction. Even though we were tipsy, we knew we were enjoying a brilliant pasta made by a master. Armed with patience and appetite, most of Santa Cruz was lucky enough to feast at his hearth. In the best tradition of irrepressible cuisine artists, he was a complete original. He’s probably riding that Ducati somewhere in heaven.
Caffe Lucio will stay open, as he would have wished, writes his wife Mirjam Kuusik on their Facebook page. CW
Moving Toward High Speed
The city council will explore a $52-million project to bring faster Internet service to Santa Cruz. The council voted last week to explore a partnership with Cruzio for the Santa Cruz Fiber Project, which would boost local Internet speeds by 50 times and replace copper wires with fiber optics. The city’s development manager J. Guevara says it could bring more high-tech businesses here. They are exploring a partnership where the expenses would be picked up by fees from Internet users. The city ranks 447 out of 505 California cities for Internet speed, according to Guevara. BK