Greater Santa Cruz enjoys a lot of international elements, as even the briefest romance with the downtown Wednesday Farmers Market can attest. (Give me all the Eritrean lamb from Nahna and Old England-style fish and chips from Scrumptious.)
But nothing on the level of São Paolo.
Admittedly, that’s not a fair fight.
São Paolo, known as “Sampa” by locals, has more restaurants than Capitola does people.
Sampa, with a population of 23+ million, is considered South America’s culinary capital.
That’s partly thanks to the massive amount of influences plying their flavor there, including more Portuguese, Spaniards, Japanese and Italians than any other city outside their native lands.
Three siblings from the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere open their epicurean tribute to São Paolo in Santa Cruz as soon as early May by way of Sampa Brazilian Food.
Natasha Reber, Ricardo Malia and Fernando Neto—named in order of their immigration here, prompted by Reber’s arrival to learn English and her talking her brothers into it—have gathered an enthusiastic following with street food-inspired stuff at Woodhouse Blending & Brewing.
Their new full-service restaurant space sits at the corner of Water Street and North Branciforte Avenue, in a place that locals long knew as Joe’s Pizza (before his brother made it Robbie’s Pizza & Subs).
New floors, reimagined paint and a dog-friendly deck are already in place.
On the menu will appear dishes that made Sampa an integral part of Woodhouse’s welcoming vibe. Think coxinha chicken croquettes and slow-cooked carne louca tri-tip, plus new dishes like savory hand-pie pasteles and traditional feijoada bean and pork stew.
Live music on weekends will accompany draft beers (anticipate Woodhouse specialties), local wines and satisfying flavors from a country underrated for its delicious pop.
It reminds me of something my world-traveling colleague Hanif Wondir told me when we visited São Paolo: “I had no idea Brazil does food this good.”
PENNY FOR YOUR PLOTS
A Penny Ice Creamery scoop: The local legend is opening new stores in Los Altos and Palo Alto, its first outposts away from home turf. Founders Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis are stoked to take the long-anticipated leap. “For years now, Bay Area guests have been asking for The Penny to open locations over the hill,” Baker says. The debuts are expected at the tail end of this spring. thepennyicecreamery.com
SLICE OF HEAVEN
Speaking of long-anticipated: The Pizza Series is open at 226 Mt. Hermon Road in Scotts Valley for lunch and dinner takeout Thursday-Saturday as it awaits its indoor space remodel completion. Five-star Detroit-style pies, hot honey and vegan options are all in play. thepizzaseries.com
SHOOT FOR THE STARS
UCSC astronomy and astrophysics department chair Puragra Guha Thakurta gets intergalactic gourmet with a star-gazing session and a three-course dinner on April 23 at Chaminade Resort & Spa. From the heavens descend gulf prawn ceviche, Petaluma Farm rack of lamb and Pinkberry opera cake, paired with peeks through Thakurta’s telescope. www.chaminade.com