There is a special place here in Santa Cruz where Italians go to eat Italian food and my grandmother likes some of it more than her own!
Lillian's Italian Kitchen
It's tiny seats about 36-40 people, serve wine only and play Franks Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Mario Lanza,Tony Benett, Perry Como and well you get the idea. It is always crowded we will wait over an hour without a complaint to partake of the goodness inside the doors.
my cutie and my mamma!
My only tip is to get there within 15 minutes of the doors opening for dinner if you have a big party(anything over 4) and you will be seated right away, of course there are no reservations. It's run by family my grandmother went to school with the owners Father, it gets us no where, just an "oh yah."She always runs into someone she knows when we go.
My grandma Rose with the red hair and Auntie Beegie(means little in Italian )
But we don't care we crave it I eat things there that I just don't like! For example roasted red peppers and pickled vegetables Love them on the antipasto that has wonderful cheese, sopressata and olive oil cured black olives as well.
my butter and sweet hubby
Soft drinks in cans and orange Italian Soda in bottles, the restaurant is so small they don't have a walk-in which means the local ingredients are fresh daily! You have to be guided through the tight kitchen to use the restroom. The Chef and the cooks work like a beautiful clock it is amazing to watch.
This time I created Christmas Polenta. I always order it they make it with cream instead of water and oh it's not like other polentas! and everyone steals from me so I had them bring us a serving topped half in fresh pesto half homemade marinara, it was gone too quick!
Hubby got one of the specials of the day Cabonera oh with the egg on top, fresh peas and pancetta was so deliscious.
grandma, auntie B and mamma all had handmade beef and spinach raviolis in a delicate tomato cream also a special that night
Mr. Fire Snail had the Alfredo with Chicken mushroom and spinach which is simplistic perfection
Miss Soda Icy POP had a New York charred medium rare with a side of rigatoni
And alas I had the fresh fluffy soft gnocchi in a pesto white wine cream with crimini mushrooms, topped with juicy grilled chicken
We couldn't even think about dessert which is lovely tiramisu or canoli's too bad maybe next time.
Some say" it's not authentic italian" well my answer to them is, it's just comfort food for Italian Americans it's simple, fresh, made with passion and love and oh so delicioso!
So if you are ever in Santa Cruz stop by Lillian's Italian Kitchen and sit on the street watch the cars go by and wait to be delighted.