100 Miles From Here: living la vita italiana in santa cruz

I love Italian food.

Risotto patiently prepared with tender green asparagus.

Handcrafted papardelle with a deep, complex gravy.

And the caffé, of course!

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Luckily, there are some amazing Italian restaurants in #SantaCruz and we just added a new one to our “go-to” list!

Lago di Como is not just named after one of my most favorite locations on the planet, it is also home to some delicious homestyle Italian food — and good service to boot! (Boot, like Italy, get it?)

My sweetie and I were debating where to go to dinner and none of our usual choices was hitting the spot. I was reading Donna Leon’s mystery novel, Dressed for Death, which takes place in Venice, which must have put the idea of Italian food in my mind.

[As an aside: I love a good mystery – especially one that takes place in Italy or France and details the local fare. I am in France right now, with the Bruno series by Martin Walker.]

In any event, we ended up at Lago di Como, a local restaurant on the Eastside. I had been there once before, years ago, and had enjoyed it.

The location had been home to many different restaurants over the years. I think most recently it had been a Mexican restaurant, and before that it was a spot that served breakfasts and a kind of a fresh California style menu. I would often see the chef at the local farmer’s markets.

A couple of lifetimes ago I had gone to that restaurant to interview for a waitressing job. The chef wanted to go check the surf so we hopped in his little pick up and had our interview as he checked out the waves. Now that I am older it all sounds a bit janky. Nothing untoward happened, but it was definitely odd, looking back on it.

I didn’t get the job. #probablyagoodthing

Anyways, that was eons ago and the new place erases all sketchy memories of the older ones. Lago di Como is not exactly “cozy” like many of my favorite Italian spots are, but it is welcoming and the staff is polite and attentive – both huge pluses in my opinion.

My sweetie ordered a big bottle of Pellegrino and I had a glass of a yummy Montepulciano for $8. Totally worth it. I always order a Montepulciano if I see it on the menu because Montepulciano is literally one of my Top 5 favorite small towns and I love the way “Montepulciano” rolls off my tongue when I order it.

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Hey, it’s the simple  things that make me happy.

Speaking of simple things: I ordered a bowl of polenta with garlic and thyme. I would have happily ordered a bucket, had it been an option.

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Look at all that buttery, creamy, cheesy goodness. I made my sweetie eat a bite with a big clove of garlic too so he would be able to stand my garlic breath. #novampireshere

I was feeling rebellious and ordered two items off the appetizer menu because I wanted to. #thatshowiroll

My next dish was a caprese salad.

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Not the best quality shot (my Montepulciano must have been kicking in…) but the taste was yummers. I was totally craving something light and fresh and vegetable – and this hit the spot.

My sweetie’s spot was hit by his papardelle with a sausage sauce. He devoured it. The pasta was perfectly al dente and delicious!

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Next I ordered dessert for us – a fantastic raspberry pinot grigio sorbet for me,

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and a chocolate cake for the sweetster. It looks tiny, but it had big flavor.

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All in all we were stoked with Lago di Como. The menu is huge, which isn’t always a good thing, but we are looking forward to trying out more of the dishes they offer. We will let you know how they do on the next visit!

For now – two espressos up!

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Ciao!

Jessica

 

PS: Shortly after our dinner I noticed the empty corner market next to Lago di Como was sporting this sign:

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I wonder if Tutto Fresco is owned by the same folks… I think I need to investigate, no?

 

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