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[whitespace] New Matisse in Town

Sushi Now! opens second location; local chefs share culinary secrets on TV

By Janet Blazer

WHEN YOUR DREAMS start coming true and opportunity knocks, I guess it's hard to say no. Perhaps that's what's going on for Matisse Selman, chef/owner of downtown's Sushi Now!, who's just opened his second location. Matisse's winning formula of fresh fast sushi has made his first not-even-a-year-old venture a success, and the second location promises to follow suit.

Along with lifelong friend and business partner James Kilpatrick, Selman spent several weeks renovating the former Masayuki's in Capitola Village in preparation for the opening on April 1. The cozy restaurant has been brightened with new lights, a white tiled floor, and stylish birch chairs and tables. The stone fireplace is almost always lit, and several small Japanese-style fountains are scattered around the room, creating a calm and pleasant ambiance. And do check out the bathroom--the walls and ceiling are covered with hundreds and hundreds of wooden chopsticks, individually glued on.

In case you're not familiar with Matisse's concept, Sushi Now! is based on a belief that small and fast is best. That means the menu selection is compact: five kinds of seafood rolls, five vegetarian rolls, seven specialty rolls. Side orders of edamame, miso soup and seaweed salad ($2 each) are also available. And that's it; although the new space is bigger than the downtown kiosk, the menu is the same.

The other catch here is that Sushi Now! Capitola serves breakfast. No, that doesn't mean maki in the morning--instead, choose from The Breakfast Club menu of about half a dozen items, including omelets, eggs Benedict, eggs any style and Belgian waffles. I sampled the frittata, made with red bell pepper, goat cheese and leeks ($7.95), served with fresh fruit and Lyonnaise potatoes--tiny, tender balls of potato sauteed with herbs and spices.

The melange of pleasing flavors, combined with ambient surroundings, lots of early-morning sunshine and no crowds (yet), made for a delightful experience. Matisse sticks to his philosophy when it comes to prices, too: basic rolls are $3.50 for six pieces, with specialty rolls priced at $4. And you won't even have to worry about those pesky Capitola parking meters--there's a free city lot directly across the street. Sushi Now! Capitola can be found at 427 Capitola Ave., Capitola, halfway up (or down) the hill. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, from 7 to 11am, with sushi lunch and dinner served from 11am-10pm. Both Sushi Now! locations also do catering for parties and other events. Call 477.ROLL (7655) for information or take-out orders.

Taste of the Town

For years, print has been the only medium I've been available in--and that's been by choice, folks. You see, I'm basically kinda shy, preferring to be heard (via the written page) but not seen. However, in an attempt to turn over a new leaf (and perhaps foster a new career), for the past few months I've been hosting a Community TV show that airs twice a week.

The half-hour show, Taste of the Town, profiles a local chef or cooking expert and a dish of their choice. I do the interviewing (live! in person!) along with my co-host, veteran television producer Joyce Anderson. Each episode airs for two to three weeks at 7:30pm--Mondays on Channel 71 and Saturdays on Channel 73. Past guests include David Jackman of So Say We and We So Bistro, Eric Carter from the Cabrillo Culinary Arts Department, prize-winning clam chowder cook Tony LeBourveau, Robert Morris of Blacks Beach Cafe and renowned chef Charlie Trotter of Chicago.

The current guest, chef Giovanni Di Maio of Caffe Bella Napoli in Santa Cruz, demonstrates a simple but wonderful entree, linguine with crustaceans (in this case, baby lobster, prawns, scallops and shrimp) often served at his restaurant. This is a simple, delicious dish anyone can make at home, in about 15 minutes, start to finish. Chef Di Maio is a great instructor and makes the whole thing seem easy as pie.

Please tune in and let me know what you think. Future shows will feature Charlie Deal of Charlie Hong Kong, Tad Morgan of Felton's Ciao Bella and his singing and dancing waitstaff (led by the inimitable Agent 99), and a trip to the Farmers' Market with chef Damani Thomas of Oswald.

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From the April 26-May 3, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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