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RestaurantsSanta Cruz
10.14.09

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Phaedra

Photograph by Curtis Cartier
Gracious mountain living: Scopazzi's sun-dappled patio is the ideal lunching location.

Roadhouse Rendezvous

For almost a century, Boulder Creek's Scopazzi has offered food and drink to travelers making their way toward the stately redwoods.

By Christina Waters


SEATED across the street from where my grandfather's house once stood, I soaked up the view of redwood slopes sunning in the late summer afternoon. I was, of course, at Scopazzi's, a roadhouse legend at the bend of Big Basin Way. And it was gratifying, in a world that changes by the minute, to find that this durable landmark still does things in a gracious way. Mountain hospitality is always the special of the house, and I'll swear the ghost of my uncle Bud, a Scopazzi's regular for decades, was seated down at the end of the bar, sipping a scotch while his steak cooked on the grill.

On Sundays, Scopazzi's is a great spot for long lunches or for nursing that Bloody Mary while catching some NFL on the screens over the vintage bar. We arrived hungry and lucked into two of the best classic sandwiches either of us could remember. From start to finish, the service was excellent. The Sunday lunch menu offers nonthreatening standards, from pastas and entree salads to the house signature cheeseburger and several other hot sandwiches. The lone gesture toward the culinarily exotic was the Philly cheesesteak. Beer arrived exceptionally chilled--very welcome on a hot Indian summer afternoon--and we idled away some time talking about my parents' childhood days in this rustic hamlet.

The decorating details at Scopazzi's are unapologetically old school. Oil lamps at each table with bases of polished redwood burl help to reinforce the mountain retro theme. And yet here, at what was once the Locatelli Inn, the deep burgundy wainscotting, wood paneling and dark green linens are not so much a theme as a nostalgic insertion of another era into the digital present. A floral carpet that can only be described as "vintage casino" sweeps its way through the long, low lounge area and back into a huge old reception room. Several generations of improvements are obvious, each with some class but ultimately coalesced into mountain Gothic ambience. What a delight to find something that suggests another era and a setting in which people had a lot of fun together.

For the record, our lunch was delicious. Abundant and utterly flavorful in an all-too-rare, all-American, nondesigner, nonfusion-cuisine sort of way. We kept to the theme by partnering our sandwiches with beer and Coke. The hot San Lorenzo Valley day called for exactly that. It also called for the chef's special sandwich, a skirt steak melt on rye toast with seriously satisfying French fries ($9). Jack jumped at the chance to have a lavish BLT ($8.50) loaded with the flavor appeal of late harvest ripe tomatoes, salty bacon, sweet mayo and plenty of lettuce. His sandwich was good. Mine was great. Incredibly delicious slices of tender, Cajun-spiced skirt steak slathered with melted swiss cheese--this sandwich knocked me out and there was plenty to take home.

Scopazzi's not only served up a memorable lunch, it gave us an excuse to revisit our favorite village in the redwoods.



SCOPAZZI'S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

Address: 13300 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek

Phone: 831.338.6441

Hours: 11:30am-2am Wednesday-Sunday

scopazzisrestaurant.com


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