Nick Sherman is the chef of the moment, finessing gorgeous food at his new Capitola restaurant Trestles. Food that tastes even better than it looks. From irresistible sauces to impeccable seafoods, the Trestles menu is both playful and serious. Sherman, who opened the attractively decorated restaurant on the site of the former Bella Roma, is a Santa Cruz native who earned his credentials cooking in the Napa Valley until the pandemic brought him back home. From where I sat last week, overlooking charming Capitola Village, Trestles has already found an approving audience for Sherman’s expert way with vegetables and seafoods. Melo, Patti and I shared a seafood special as an appetizer and were treated not only to succulent octopus, but also to its brilliant accompaniment of pale green squash, baby haricots verts and fresh from the cob corn arrayed on a tomato-infused sweet-tart sauce ($20). Octopus so tender and toothsome that we began swapping tales of past visits to Greece. From the eclectic wine list, we chose a trio of generously poured varietals. A light, crisp 2018 Terres Dorees Chardonnay ($14), a 2020 les heretiques vin de rouge, spicy and rustic, full of berries ($11), and a satisfying 2017 Martin Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Clara Valley ($17).
In an effort to try everything on the menu, we next launched into a flawless plate of fresh roasted trumpet mushrooms atop a gruyere fondue with balsamic glaze. Tart baby greens and a generous dusting of cheese played counterpoint to the meaty funghi ($12). Patti’s Caesar salad ($13) was also perfection, offering the right balance of garlic, cheese, and anchovy on crisp baby romaine plus featherlight crouton cubes and a hint of preserved lemon. Nothing is just a garnish at Trestles. Every detail sings.
For entrees, we again wandered the menu. I chose crispy pork belly, sitting alongside pretty cubes of roast watermelon, with jalapeño vinaigrette, frisee, and sliced daikon, on a pool of addictive soy-laced glaze ($17). Chef Sherman likes sauces that spark flavors, rather than mask or drown them. Each dish arrived with a piquant glaze or sauce, and nowhere more intriguing than in Melody’s order of caramelized scallops ($31). The plump golden shellfish was accompanied by tiny dice of kohlrabi, on a bed of kohlrabi puree, amidst a few perfect brussels sprouts leaves. Everything was embroidered with an intense port reduction, flavors yielding to ever-more interesting flavors. Same with Patti’s main dish, a tostado-style layering of crudo tombo tuna. The tiny tostadas were frosted with avocado mousse and layered with radish, rings of micro-thin green peppers and micro cilantro ($16). All sprinkled lightly with togarashi. However complex the flavors that blossomed from each dish, nothing overwhelmed the palate. My cab proved outstanding, with the pork belly and the mushrooms throughout the meal.
We pretty much fell in love with this menu, as did the diners who’d filled up the dining room as well as the outdoor patio by the time we were finished with our early dinner.
Couldn’t resist trying the house desserts, including a luscious butternut squash cheesecake with a crust of almonds and pepitas. Also wonderful was a warm light chocolate brownie topped with its perfect companion, vanilla ice cream (both $10). The comforting desserts deserved a more imaginative presentation. They looked a bit lost in their deep white bowls.
Kudos to the chef and the smart, patient wait staff. Trestles gave me the best variation on bistro-style California cuisine I’ve enjoyed in a long time. A word to the inquiring diner: make reservations as quickly as you can. Trestles is already wildly—and rightfully—popular.
316 Capitola Ave., Capitola. Open Th-Fri 4-9pm, Sat-Sun 4-10pm. trestlesrestaurant.com.