Ristorante Avanti is simply the best restaurant in Santa Cruz. Over the many years our family have been eating there the attention to detail, consistent kitchen output, great menu and delightful staff have made Ristorante Avanti the top choice in Santa Cruz. I have a personal restaurant grading scale which is based on how they do their calamari appetizer. This is the best calamari anywhere of it's type (lightly breaded) and I highly recommend it. The wine selection is over the top and a great way to experience new wines. As an incredible bonus to our community, Ristorante Avanti is committed to growing their own organic produce and purchasing only the highest grade local foodstuffs. Combine all of this with classic Italian cooking and, well, Man, I'm getting hungry!
I was very impressed. We had a nice wine on the table, great food, the grated Parmesan is excellent. Service is great. Friendly and open. A bit pricey, for sure, easily dropped over a bill for a dinner for two, but for special occasions it's wonderful. Go there. it is a hidden gem. :)
Do you go to a restaurant once, and it's great, and then a second or third time, and you are disappointed? Avanti never disappoints. Always consistently well prepared food, top notch service, and comfortable atmosphere. We always choose Avanti to mark a special occasion, or enjoy a nice dinner or brunch with friends. solid wine choices, often changing special entrees, and a reliable list of favorites that are always available. As close to Italy as you can get in Santa Cruz.
I have introduced dozens of people to this fine restruant over that past 20 years and every one has loved the food. They don't skimp: from the imported cheese that they grate at your table to the best fresh dry farmed tomoatos to the dipping olive oil and bread, every thing is top notch. Some one in the kitchen is actually tasting what they are cooking. You can spend more for a meal in Santa Cruz, but you can not find higher quality cooking.
Don't let the location fool you. Step inside to the best food and service in town. They use local and organic ingredients when possible. The food is amazingly creative and lovingly prepared and served.
I can easily recall the moment I fell in love with Avanti--over their chicken cacciatore and a glass of red wine. While you could easily overlook this place from the lack of curb appeal (and parking), the high quality organic food never disappoints. If you're a wine lover, be sure to visit their wine bar and chat with the sommelier. They always have something new and delicious. Just eating alone or want a glass of wine while you read a book? Take a seat at the lovely large oak bar. Coming with friends? Make a reservation since this place is always packed. Did I mention the beautiful local ceramic dishes your food is served on? Divine.
Our family has been eating at Avanti for almost 20 years, first as kidless newlyweds then as one then two then three children were born and now are in high school.
As long time westsiders, Avanti has fed us through it all. Good wine, including port and madeira, the best, fresh, locally grown produce, and consistantly fine chefs over the years to cook it al, friendly, extremely knowledgable wait staff (and very low turnover, the mark of good employers) to bring it to table.
You might want to call ahead, the place is often packed with happy people and the buzz of contented conversation, laughter and a variety of delicious aromas.
Cruzio serves Aptos, Aromas, Ben Lomond, Bonny Doon, Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Capitola, Corralitos, Davenport, Felton, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Lompico, Pajaro, Rio Del Mar, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Seacliff, Soquel, Watsonville, and Zayante.