.New Leaf, Cat & Cloud Ready Aptos Village Outposts

New Leaf Community Market will open the doors of a new Aptos Village store—the grocer’s fifth area outpost—on May 1. In addition to kickstarting the long-awaited action at the expanding Village, the newest New Leaf promises an expansion of flavors, including “a delicious deli featuring made-to-order pizza, ramen and wok bars,” according to store manager Justin Reyes.

A large outdoor green space should tempt patrons to stay and picnic during their visits to the new 17,000-square-foot store, which was built to echo the architecture of the vintage 1881 Hihn apple barn that once occupied the location. Expect a huge selection of organic everything, plus a full-service coffee bar, an organic juice and smoothie bar, and the delightful option of soft serve ice cream. We’re all invited to come celebrate the May 1 opening.

But wait, there’s more! In the coming weeks, we can also expect to sample the exceptional coffee and espresso specialties at the new Cat & Cloud Coffee moving in at Aptos Village. Later this summer, look for the opening of David Kinch’s new Mediterranean restaurant, Mentone, named for a city on the French/Italian Riviera. Look for lavish pizza and plenty of highly authentic pesto from the man with three Michelin stars. Next up will be Penny Ice Creamery and a Sante Arcangeli Family Wines tasting room. Sounds exciting, and I know the folks in Aptos will be happy when the multi-year construction dust has settled.

The New Leaf Community Market at Aptos Village will open May 1 at 161 Aptos Village Way, Aptos. newleaf.com.

New Chef at La Posta

After many years of chef Katherine Stern’s exceptional handiwork, the La Posta kitchen has a new creative force. La Posta owner Patrice Boyle (also the owner of downtown’s Soif) tells me that San Francisco native Dante Cecchini took the helm at La Posta last week. After many years of cooking in the city, chef Cecchini has moved into Santa Cruz. “We are very, very happy to be working with him!” says Boyle. I, for one, can’t wait to taste Cecchini’s work …

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New Menu at Avanti

Jonathan and Tatiana Glass, new owners of Ristorante Avanti are winning new fans and keeping old ones happy with beautiful tableware, a patio expansion and a never-better menu. Rita and I are hooked on the fresh seafood specials at lunchtime. Partnered with exceptional seasonal veggies and brilliant, creamy polenta, the lunch entrées are memorable indeed. I have to stop ordering the house duck confit and try one of the new meatball sandwiches on the menu. If wine shaman Bob Marsh feels at home here, that’s a sign of success.

Home Again

Meanwhile, at Soquel’s Home Restaurant, culinary ace Brad Briske is planning a Spring Garden Party on Sunday, April 7, from 2-6 p.m. The outdoor meal will be a collaboration between the cottage restaurant and the Soquel Fermentation Project. Guests can plan to sample new SFP releases, plus locally sourced foods in a truly charming spring garden atmosphere. (Remember when Etan Hamm first planted that garden?) Briske tells us that the party will go on,rain or shine. Plan to be there.

Home, 3101 N Main St., Soquel. 431-6131.

Burger of the Week: Oswald

Anteing up $20 gets you a burger big enough for two—and enough fries for three—at downtown’s Oswald. Blue cheese, aioli and caramelized onions top off the seriously juicy burger.

We paired ours with the evening’s cocktail special involving gin, pomegranate juice, blood orange and more blood orange ($11). Great service, great food and a great chance to see everybody in town. Our go-to downtown cocktail spot.

Oswald, 121 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. oswaldrestaurant.com.


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