At Bantum Benjamin Simms will pull some ingredients from local sources like the El Salchichero butchery. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

More Westside Pizza

The Westside’s newest pizzeria-in-progress, Bantam, is almost ready for prime time. “Sometime in November” is what proprietor Benjamin Sims predicted as he showed me around the spacious scrubbed and polished industrial space at the edge of Fair Avenue, across from New Leaf. The obvious centerpiece of the new restaurant is the Mugnaini wood-burning pizza oven, handsomely tiled by Sims’ cousin, at the center of the exhibition kitchen. The opulent oven will be fired with almond-wood, Sims revealed. The room is lined with two walls of glass windows—“we’re still figuring out what sort of window treatment we want”— and long stretches of banquettes. The “we” in this case is host/proprietor Sims and his wife Sarah, who will manage the front of the house. Although the large butcher-block table in an alcove near the oven is currently a dough rolling station, it will soon be dedicated for large parties, or maybe something else. “The patrons will let us know how to use this space,” Sims believes. “There are so many possibilities.” Sims and contractors buffed the original shop floors until they gleamed, and then epoxyed them. Atmospheric wood paneling from barns, vintage wainscoting and other reclaimed sites has been used to panel the high, far wall behind the wine bar with counter seating. “Pizza will occupy half the menu,” Sims explains, “with three to five appetizer salads, some pastas and a main course special or two.” Some toppings will come from El Salchichero, but Sims plans to run a basic Margarita pizza—Neapolitan-style, 12-inch pies with whatever his chef Melissa Reitz (former sous chef of Oakland’s acclaimed Camino) wants to add. “It’s great having a chef,” he grins. “That way I get to cook on the line, and freshen my own techniques.” Sims says Bantam will be closed on Sundays, and will start out being open for dinner Monday through Saturday. “Eventually we’ll open either for lunches or maybe weekend brunch. The community will let us know what it wants.”


Wine Dinner @ Main Street Garden Cafe Live Earth Farm produce and pasture-raised goat will be featured in the Main Street Garden & Café Chefs Farm Night program on Thursday, November 15, 2012. $50 prix fixe, five courses. Mmmmm. For reservations, contact Main Street Garden & Café.

Fall Passport to SCMtn Wines

More than simply tasting wine in gorgeous backcountry surroundings, the November 17 Passport Day is a chance to visit wineries all over the Santa Cruz Mountains, from noon to 5pm. At Alfaro Family Vineyards, for example, you can enjoy Paul Butler’s guitar while consuming wood-fired pizzas (available for purchase) and sipping one of winemaker Richard Alfaro’s new Sangioveses. More than 50 wineries participate in this rare opportunity to sample wines and visit wineries often not open to the public. For complete listing of wineries, visit the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association website ( and get ready to meet your new favorite wines! It’s a whole lot of tasting for a $45 donation.


West Cliff Wines Debuts

André Beauregard—son of Jim “Shoppers Corner” Beauregard, and brother of Ryan “Beauregard Vineyards” Beauregard—has entered the winemaking arena with his first two offerings, both vintage 2011, and both sporting the West Cliff Wines label. Check out Andrés full-throated Syrah and gorgeous Rosé of Syrah at Shoppers and other fine retailers.


A Few Choice Bites

The Rue sandwich from Kelly’s, the turkey chili from New Leaf, the pumpkin tea cake from Companion Bakeshop, the Turkish coffee ice cream from Mission Hill Creamery and the olallieberry Danish from Hoffman’s—all reasons to get up in the morning.