Photo by Prescott Watson

If you’ve read this blog in the past, you know all about my partial-vegetarianism/moral dilemma with almost every food that makes it to my stomach.  I only eat meat from organic farms and humanely treated animals, and recently I’ve been transferring this buying practice to my butter and milk (I’m still working on the cheese).

And you know me… I like to cook! So, a lot of times you can find me at Santa Cruz’s local farmer’s markets, basking in the happiness that comes from knowing where my food comes from, gathering up some local strawberries and kumquats, romaine and onions, tomatoes and cilantro — my choices made depending on what I’m in the mood to make in the coming week.

All of this generally unnecessary background information may show the reader why my experience at Ristorante Avanti, which took all of my values, transferred them to restaurant form and created blissful delight in my mouth, turned out to be so first-rate. This ‘ristorante’ is one of the only restaurants I’ve ever eaten at that buys locally on a daily basis, and only buys meat that has been humanely treated and is organic. They buy meat and dairy from farms that I have bought from myself in the past few months, such as pork from Niman Ranch and butter from the Strauss Family Creamery.

I had almost given up on my dream of being able to eat meat in a restaurant again until my mom took me to Ristorante Avanti last weekend. That’s why I love when she visits: She feeds me good food.

My dish was great. I ordered the chicken cacciatore, and it was the first time in four years that I’ve put chicken (knowingly) into my mouth. The chefs marinated it overnight in red wine, which made it so soft it fell off the bone and I didn’t need to use a knife.  It was served with delicious green vegetables and a side of mashed potatoes.

Photo by Prescott Watson


Not only was my dish great, but so were all the dishes everyone else at the table got too, and choosing what to eat off of the restaurant’s fabulous menu was almost as hard as choosing which chocolate to eat out of your Valentine’s Day heart-shaped box.  Our table ordered chicken pasta, grilled chicken, steak and to top it all off, a deep chocolate pot de crème.  Of course we all dabbled around each other’s plates, which was a newfound pleasure for me.  Usually I can’t do that without coming across something that I can’t eat.

And the specials are always changing, as the food they buy is always fresh and local, and depends on the seasons.

All in all, this restaurant made my taste buds cry out in exaltation. I’m ready for my second course!


Visit Ristorante Avanti online