.Itali-Cali Dream-to-Be

Cavalletta brings Nick Sherman’s second restaurant to a stylish spot in Aptos

There are a number of hints that Cavalletta, coming to the former Malik Williams in Aptos as soon as next month, will be a dynamite addition to the local foodscape.

For one, it translates to “trestles,” a nod to chef-partner Nick Sherman’s first spot (Trestles in Capitola), easily one of the top restaurant debuts of the past five years.

Interestingly, in Italian it also translates to “grasshopper” (and, colloquially, voracious appetites). 

This project will be both 1) a leap into a different genre (though Sherman has been cooking Italian for as long as he can remember, has Italian grandparents and calls this “something I’ve always wanted to do”); and 2) an insatiable hunger for the smart sourcing, welcoming vibe and fine dining execution that’s made Trestles a hit.

“A fine dining level of food but an atmosphere that isn’t, with a team passionate about locally sourced and seasonal,” Cavalletta GM Sydney Ruelas says. “I’m excited for people to try it.”

Other promising hints when I swung by last week included the 80-quart pot for veal stock that goes in all sorts of different dishes, the slick Emiliomiti pasta extruder for all the rigatoni, bucatini, strozzapreti and pasta you can eat and the big domed pizza oven that reaches a casual 800 degrees.

On my visit, Ruelas and restaurant partner Shawn Ryberg, a longtime chef and friend of Sherman, were finalizing menus for the next Cavalletta pop up at Trestles, as part of a weekly series which will happen Monday evenings until Cavalletta opens.

The menu hits like a bowling ball—compact and solid—while providing a helpful preview of what’s to come in Aptos.

Squash blossoms with marinated ricotta and Early Girl tomato sauce, rock shrimp fritto misto and halibut carpaccio comprise the starters.

The salads go Cavalletta Caesar, Italian chop and caprese.

The pop-up entrees (sans pizzas) bring on rigatoni pork sugo, malfatti Bolognese, corn-and-truffle risotto with chanterelles and brick chicken piccata.

From the pizza oven on site will eventually arrive thin-crust creations topped with compelling items like foraged nettle and mushrooms.

“Let’s call it, ‘seasonal California produce with Italian inspiration,’” Sherman says. “Creative in an approachable way.”



Felton took a hit when Humble Sea Tavern abruptly closed last week. But don’t cry in your beer too much. H Sea is still on a heater, already hiring for its upcoming Alameda tasting room, and a recent visit to its Santa Cruz pier beer garden—a sunny, scenic and friendly summer situation stacked with fresh merch, craft drafts and BYO grub (Sparado’s fried squid FTW!)—reveals it’s thriving. Now the tavern can find a squad more focused on food (looking at you Bread Boy Santa Cruz), and Humble Sea can concentrate on its core competency.



Scotts Valley Junction has a fly new sushi fusion spot in Far East Kitchen in the former Sushi Garden. The versatile menu, delivered at times by a robot, ranges from ambitious fusion nigiri you have to see to believe, bibimbap, mapo tofu and a bunch of other triple culture cuisine (Japanese-Korean-Chinese) from Hank and Young Kim, who previously owned and operated popular spots Mika Sushi and Sushi Moto on the other side of Monterey Bay. fareastkitchen.menu11.com


  1. “H Sea is still on a heater,” can anyone please translate this? And this part ” Now the tavern can find a squad more focused on food (looking at you Bread Boy Santa Cruz)” ? Read this piece three times, and still no idea what’s being said except HS is quitting Felton, but is still on a heater, and allows BYO grub (???) in Santa Cruz. I guess now I know everything about HS that GT does.

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  2. Geoff
    I had the same impression when reading this article… It seems to be pointed at a select group of readers (not me)

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