Sol Lopez first developed a fondness for Rio Del Mar years ago while watching her dad paint Café Rio. She eventually met the owner and started working there. Three years later, she took a job next door at the Flats Bistro, where she spent four years. When local restaurateur Sean Venus bought the place and opened Venus Pie Trap, the previous owner recommended Lopez. Venus made her a manager, and Lopez helped open his latest venture on Sept. 1. Venus Pie Trap offers a chill space with ocean views and a modern aesthetic. In addition to quiche and local coffee, the beachfront joint is all about pie.
Along with hand pies, which are similar to empanadas—spinach and goat cheese is the most popular—the flagship is their New Haven-style pizza, known for its thin and crispy crust. Lopez says that using minimal ingredients helps the flavors pop. Her favorite is the sausage and fennel; they also serve a classic tomato pie and a clam and garlic option. There’s a rotating assortment of sweet pies, including coconut cream.
Hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 7am-3pm. Lopez took some time to talk about her affinity for Rio Del Mar and Venus’ first month.
Why do you love Rio Del Mar?
SOL LOPEZ: It’s very community-forward down here. You have a lot of the same people coming in, so making those personal connections and building those relationships has been rewarding. We get many tourists too, and they’re easy to spot because they are the ones determined to have their beach day even when it’s foggy and cold. It’s just a very calm and relaxing space, especially compared to other local beaches. I feel blessed to know that I work so close to the ocean; I can literally see it from work.
How is business going?
It’s been pretty busy. I never really thought people would want so much pie, but they really do, and they just keep coming back for more. Our pizzas have been a big hit; we sell more than I expected, especially on the weekends. We’ve been getting good feedback, but obviously, it’s a learning curve, and there are still things going into our second month that we will dial in.
Venus Pie Trap, 113 Esplanade, Aptos, 831-661-5763; venuspietrap.com.