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Grand opening party for Santa Cruz restaurant Lago di Como with free appetizers

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The new Santa Cruz restaurant Lago di Como Ristorante & Pizzeria is having its grand opening celebration Monday, and this event includes delicious complimentary appetizers. Owners Mary Ellen and Giovanni Spanu invite you to attend the party on Monday, January 28 from 5-9 p.m. Wine and beer will be available for purchase.

Husband and wife Mary Ellen and Giovanni opened Lago di Como Ristorante & Pizzeria in mid-December; Giovanni is the restaurant’s chef. While Mary Ellen is a California native with Italian roots, Giovanni is from Bellagio, an Italian small town on Lago di Como (Lake Como). Giovanni’s diverse cooking experience includes working as a chef in various areas of Italy plus London, Santa Monica, Campbell, and San Jose. It has always been his dream to have a restaurant of his own where he can plan his own menu, make authentic Italian dishes and pizzas, and be part of the local community.

I dined at Lago di Como in late December, and enjoyed it tremendously. I tried a few dishes during my visit. Standouts included an appetizer with soft polenta, Manchego cheese, butter and garlic; a seafood ravioli entrée (it rotates and highlights a fish of the day in a light cream saffron sauce), and absolutely amazing tiramisu that’s served in a coffee cup for a fun twist. Note that while Lago di Como doesn’t yet offer pizza on its regular menu, there are occasional pizza specials. When the restaurant gains a pizza oven in the future, customers can be assured that pizza will always be available,

The restaurant is at the former site of Nuevo Southwestern Grill (which closed in Summer 2012). It’s undergone quite a transformation and has a sophisticated yet down to earth atmosphere. Former Nuevo customers might not recognize the interior; for example, the upper level separated by a divider has been removed and now the venue feels much more spacious.

“I am excited to be a part of Lago di Como Ristorante because (all biases aside) Giovanni is an excellent chef and makes some amazing Italian dishes,” Mary Ellen shares. “I also know that Giovanni takes pride in the food he prepares and has high standards in the kitchen. I enjoy seeing customers enjoying their food, relaxing and having a good time in our restaurant.”

“We love living in Santa Cruz and wanted to open a restaurant of our own right here in town,” adds Mary Ellen. “We both grew up in Italian families where mealtimes were social events. Italian families get together and have long multi-course meals and talk, eat, drink wine, and are in no hurry to get up from the table. It wasn’t a matter of waiting for a special occasion to have a nice meal — because having the nice meal became the special occasion. It was what brought everyone together.” Lago di Como definitely has the ability to bring people together for good Italian food in a pleasant environment – I recommend visiting soon, and going to the grand opening party if you can.

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Lago di Como Ristorante, 2-1490 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz

Hours: Tue-Thurs and Sun 5 – 9:30 p.m., Fri-Sat 5 – 10:00 p.m.
Phone: (831) 454-8257