Following a 25-year stint working in the Santa Cruz restaurant scene, Jonathan Glass was ready to open his own spot. But it wasn’t that easy: It took the veteran chef five years to find the perfect place. When Glass first walked into Avanti, it just felt right. Beyond the “feeling,” it had everything on his checklist: it’s a stand-alone building with a parking lot, it has an open kitchen and a liquor license. Plus, it already had a built-in Westside customer base.
Three years in, that customer base has grown due to Glass’ revamped menu, which he describes as “seasonal farm-to-table California cuisine.” In addition to the fresh seafood and pasta dishes, his slew of small plates, including a pistachio steak, are widely popular. There’s also a full bar serving up a variety of craft cocktails. Avanti is open 5-9pm, Wednesday-Sunday. Glass recently spoke about his passion for local seafood and Avanti’s outdoor space, a pandemic must-have.
Tell me about your love for local seafood?
JONATHAN GLASS: Something that really gets me excited is to offer some local seafood items that aren’t as often seen on menus around town. When I have the opportunity, I like to offer a simple dish featuring some locally sourced seafood favorites such as fresh anchovies, whole pan-roasted sand dabs and even seared mackerel. And, of course, local calamari, both traditionally fried, and we also offer a unique grilled option. I just find these less often menued seafood items really fun and flavorful, and it gives me joy to eat them and to see them on the plate going out to guests.
How has your outdoor dining space evolved?
Our outdoor patio has been a work in progress that we’re now very happy with, and it keeps our guests comfortable. It’s fully covered, with new electric heaters that pump out a lot of warmth. We have strings of lights, lots of plants and hanging ferns to really provide a garden feel. It’s even comfortable in colder weather. We also have cushioned seats and outdoor speakers for music. I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s a really beautiful place to have a meal.
1917 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 831-427-0135; avantisantacruz.com.