Saturday, April 27, 2013

La Posta


Santa Cruz, California has a number of restaurants that inspire people to travel over the hill from the South Bay and San Francisco areas, many open for a long time holding fond memories of family vacations and college days.  By nature, these places cannot change or challenge too much.  Thankfully there are newer places in the process of establishing new traditions. La Posta on Seabright is at the fore of this, and is, in my opinion, the best restaurant in town for either a nice night out or a serious celebration.  

La Posta is called such because it is housed in the old post office.  Its neighborhood is ripe for serious development (see a previous post about another of Seabright's Italian eateries), as it offers a great mix of housing and entertainment and is within a five minute walk to the sea.  But La Posta offers something few places in town can.  First, there is an attention to detail, quality and overall experience that, I dare say, only comes from a restaurant owned and operated by women.  In fact, La Posta is owned by a women, its head chef is a woman and its front-of-house manager is a woman.  I honestly think it shows in a most wonderful way.   

The dining room is simple with a small bar that has a glimpse into the kitchen.  Simple black and white photography of Italy decorates the walls above simple wood benches.  Chandeliers over the bar are also decorated with photography.  It’s a simple, soft setting.  Service on every outing has been spectacular.  Rarely has a server not been able to describe each dish in detail including each ingredient.  Often they also know the provenance of all ingredients and can describe flavors wonderfully.  They also have a good knack for recognizing patrons’ paces and adjusting ordering and plate arrival accordingly.  The music is mostly soft jazz, but on Tuesday nights they have live music and a great pizza-and-wine deal.  The one time we have been there for the live music it was trio playing folk music, and it fit perfectly with the fun, local atmosphere of Tuesday nights.  

What you’re really here for is the food.  Inspired by Italy, using as much locally produced food as possible and presented in perfect portions, the food is phenomenal.  We have had pizzas, pastas, braised meats, salads, seafood, antipastis and soups, and all have been excellent.  The pizzas are always crisp and thin, topped with very light, fresh tomato sauce and top-notch ingredients.  The other night I had the special of the night topped with braised pork and chilis and it was great.  The pastas are always hand and house made and are worthy of an Italian osteria.  Last week we tried a pasta special made with fregula, a small pasta reminiscent of Israeli couscous, topped with mussels and a light, citrusy sauce.  It tasted like summer at the sea.  We also had a bowl of assorted olives lightly warmed (why don’t we all do this?) and a salad of arugula, radish and fennel with lemon breadcrumbs and green garlic vinaigrette…delicious!
The wine list is all-Italian with samplings reasonable to pricey.  They also offer a couple house wines by bottle or carafe that provide a great bargain. One section of the wine list features wines made by women. The beer selection is small, but also all Italian.  The real drink treat is their fizzy water.  They make their own, but somehow it’s just better.  As my wife says, it’s clean, crisp, and “tastes like fresh air.”  You can finish your meal here with a small variety of desserts that have always pleased.  

We have had some amazing meals at La Posta.  Sometimes we just get a couple small plates and a glass of wine and get out for under $30 each.  On the other hand, if you go for three courses, a good bottle of wine, and an espresso you could easily spend two to three times that.  That’s what I love about it.  You can enjoy La Posta for almost any occasion so long as you are in search of great food and excellent service in a casual atmosphere.  In my opinion....the best restaurant in Santa Cruz.   
 
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