Bedda Mia brings tantalizing Italian classics to downtown Santa Cruz
We were blown away by the red walls, the family camaraderie, the enthusiastic clientele and the food. Yes, I would say the new Bedda Mia has success written all over its tantalizing menu.
Kudos to the chef/owner Alessio Casagrande and his partner Leo La Placa (from La Placa Family Bakery in Ben Lomond) for bringing us a lovely slice of authentic Sicilian cuisine. (The name is the Sicilian version of the world famous term of endearment “bella mia” or “my beauty”.) Housed in the surprisingly spacious house of the former Pearl of the Ocean, almost around the corner from the Water and from Branciforte, this charming dining room (and foredeck) presented a parade of impeccable dishes last week.
From the generously served and inexpensive glasses of wine (the list of Italian wines by the glass is long) to the obviously sexy desserts, our dinner was fantastic (thanks to our friend Stephen for the recommendation). My glass of 2020 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo offered a balance of tannins and fruit, as did my companion’s glasses of Chianti Classico and Valpolicello ($10 each!), all pairing perfectly with a shared appetizer of luxurious Caponata ($13.50).
Accompanied by a salad of baby greens and three golden toasted crostini, the brilliant mix of spicy eggplant, onions, olives, tomatoes, spicy capers and raisins arrived bright and tangy, the perfect garnish for thin toasts. This caponata is a destination in itself. We cleaned that tray to perfection by the time our main courses arrived.
For Stephane, the salmon al forno, a chewy slice of wild salmon baked with fresh herbs, and joined by a golden tangle of sweet red and orange peppers, a small bouquet of baby greens and crispy squares of roasted potatoes ($26.50). my bowl of doge ravioli was perfection ($25.50). Wrapped in shredded speck ham and sprinkled with fresh sage and Parmesan cheese, the pale yellow ravioli were stuffed with mashed short ribs and drizzled with butter. I could have eaten this dish for hours and hours. Freshly orchestrated flavors bathed each piece of exceptionally light pasta.
I’ll take it a step further: I consider homemade ravioli the pinnacle of pasta, and this superstar dish sums up the best of the genre. When you go, treat yourself to this fantastic creation.
Our third entry last week was a special evening of sea risotto ($29), a large bowl of creamy arborio rice surrounding a central opera of salmon, calamari and a large prawn topped with fresh mussels and clams in their shells. Olive oil and wine brought together the juice of the seafood in a light and fresh sauce. A wonderful dish, absolutely perfect for the hot late summer evening.
Couldn’t leave without tasting something nice and creamy from the tempting dessert case, so we shared a dreamy glass bowl of tiramisu with three scoops ($10.50). Understated in its presentation, this flawless creation of mascarpone cream, cake, espresso, rum and chocolate was downright baroque in its layers of flavor. We consumed every trace without shame.
Barely three weeks old, Bedda Mia is already aptly named.
Bedda Mia, 736 Water Street, Santa Cruz. Every day 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. 831-201-4320.
Figs, glorious figs
The farmer’s market stall Herman Ranches offers the kind of perfect fruit that colonized the book of Genesis. Green figs and Mission figs, $6 a basket. That’s it. Just figs. You don’t have to go through them. Each one is absolutely perfect, bewitching. Look for them at Scotts Valley, Live Oak and Downtown Santa Cruz markets before this short season ends.