Friday, March 1, 2013

Tramonti in Seabright

This past weekend we finally got a chance to try one of Santa Cruz’s newest Italian spots, Tramonti in the Seabright neighborhood.  I love the Seabright neighborhood, and if I were a millionaire I would be looking for ways to develop this into a “go-to” spot.  Nestled between the San Lorenzo river, the Harbor and Soquel Avenue, it already has a great diversity of dining options, mixed housing, theater, a few shops and nearby grocers.  It just needs something – an outdoor event of some sort, a festival in the streets, some more shops, a pedestrianized alley-way, something to make it a destination.

Fortunately, the dining in Seabright is excellent, already with two of my favorite spots, Seabright Brewing and La Posta.  Now Tramonti joins the party.  It’s a small, simply-decorated, modern space with Ikea-like tables and chairs except for two giant olive-wood tables in the center that are stunning.  The dining area can see into the brightly-lit, white kitchen creating one vast, open, bright space.  The spaces between tables are huge, perfect for the proprietors’ children to ride tricycles through, adding to the family-friendly charm. 

The menu is authentically Italian.  Wood-fired pizzas include 4 Stagioni and Capricciosa.  Pastas include taglioni and the possibility of a simple tomato sauce dressed with Grana Padano.  This place is clearly committed to authenticity. 

Service was almost non-existent until they noticed us, but was then excellent.  Our waiter was Italian in every way – accent, flair, warmth, humorous – and efficient.  Once ordered, our Minabrea birra and Sangiovese wine quickly arrived.  Then came our Santa Croce (Italian for Santa Cruz…clever) salad.  That was truly great.  Kale, mixed greens, arugula, Grana Padano and Feta, and nuts dressed with a citronette (maybe a touch too much) was delicious and large enough to share.  Then came the pizza.  My standard test for any supposed-Neapolitan pizza place is their Capricciosa – mushrooms, prosciutto cotto (cooked) and an egg in the middle.  This was the Tramonti interpretation, but I have also seen this with olives and artichokes, too.  The pizza arrived straight from the oven…charred and bubbled crust lent it visual authenticity while the smell was exquisite.  The flavors were delicious.  The tomato sauce was light and fresh, no tomato paste in sight.  The textures were spot on.  It may not have been the best I have had outside of Italy, but it did the trick.  My lone disappointment was in the prosciutto.  I am reasonably sure that the ham was just that…ham…and not a high quality prosciutto.  And I really love a thin-sliced prosciutto on my pizza – crudo or cotto. 

The bottom line for me…Tramonti is trying to create an authentic Italian experience and not cater too much to an American taste.  I appreciate that.  And they’re doing a pretty good job.  I will return, I will eat more pizza, I will try some pasta, and I will bring the kids.  It was delicious and family-friendly for a very reasonable price.                    
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