.Venus Pie Trap Brings ‘New Haven-style’ Pizza to Aptos

Sean Venus’ new pie, coffee and pizza joint opens next to his beachfront Venus Spirits Cocktails and Kitchen in Rio del Mar

The words “Pie, Coffee, Pizza” across the front of this sparkling white seaside cafe say it all. Yes, Venus Pie Trap (mega-points for clever name) does indeed specialize in all of the above, as well as a variety of bagels from Holey Roller, pastries from Manresa, little hand pies and quiches (from Edith’s Pie of Oakland) and house fired pizzas of the New Haven—as in Connecticut—variety. And what exactly is New Haven-style pizza, you might wonder. (I did.) Well according to the internet, it means a thin-crust, rustic, non-cheese-intensive pizza that’s easy to eat.

Melo and I met at one of the black wrought-iron cafe tables out front, took a moment to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful little white clouds sailing by over Rio del Mar beach and then ordered what amounted to brunch. Thanks to an alliance with 11th Hour Coffee, Venus Pie Trap offers righteous coffees, including an outstanding macchiato ($3.25). We shared a hot and fragrant Mootz ($18) pizza topped with a thin glaze of mozzarella, provolone, pecorino, romano cheeses and tomato sauce. Easy peasy.

Our Caesar salad ($12) arrived in a clear plastic container, with the dressing in a separate plastic container. Not tossed. Obviously destined for a picnic on the beach. In fact, as we watched people come in, grab a coffee or a pastry and head out to the beach, we realized that the entire concept here is really geared toward grab-and-go dining. We were happy with the outdoor cafe vibe, but next time we’ll aim for lunch on the beach.

For dessert, we each ordered something different from the ample selection of Edith’s pies. Mine was a plump slab of cocoanut cream pie needlessly topped with whipped cream, which was a bit too sweet. Melo’s butter walnut chocolate pie was sin itself, like a thick pecan pie only made with walnuts and laced with dark chocolate. Delicious interior, though the crust was tough. We found out later that this is one of Edith’s headliners called Scribble Pie.

Entrepreneur Sean Venus, whose Aptos outpost of cocktails and kitchen sits conveniently right next door to the Pie Trap, believes that “pies should be enjoyed all day.” I couldn’t agree more. But I look forward to one of the luscious Manresa pastries and another of those terrific macchiatos on my next visit. 

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Venus Pie Trap is open Tuesday-Sunday, 7am-3pm, with pizzas starting at 11am. 113 Esplanade, Aptos. venuspietrap.com.

Harvest Festival

The Watsonville version of our original natural foods pioneer Staff of Life wants everybody to come on over to the first-ever Organic Harvest Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1, from noon to 4pm. Just cruising through this amazingly well-stocked store is excuse enough for a visit, but if you want more reasons, here are a few: the free festival will showcase the super fresh, all-organic harvests and products from top growers from Santa Clara to Monterey; there will be live music, samples, tastings, food sales (including Staff’s juicy cheeseburgers and pulled pork sandwiches), and wine/beer tasting for $3. Even better, you’ll be able to meet your local farmers from Coast Produce, Earthbound Farms, Pinnacle Farms, Jas Family Farms, Lakeside Organic, and many more. “We are looking forward to having a great day at our 1st annual Organic Harvest Festival,” says Staff of Life owner Gary Bascou. “We want to showcase the farmers that grow right here in the Tri-valley.” 

Staff of Life, 906 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville. staffoflifemarket.com.

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