The "Reefy's" pastrami sandwich at Reef Dog Deli in Capitola.
The “Reefy’s” pastrami sandwich at Reef Dog Deli in Capitola.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Food & Drink

Lily Belli on Food: Reef Dog Deli closing, a toast to terroir and a Ukrainian tradition

Welcome to Lily Belli on Food, a weekly food-focused newsletter from Lookout’s food and drink correspondent, Lily Belli. Keep reading for the latest local food news for Santa Cruz County — plus a few fun odds and ends from my own life and around the web.

Stay in touch with me by text throughout the week — I send text alerts every time I publish a story. And you can text me back! Share your thoughts, send tips and give feedback. Sign up for texts from me here. Thanks to those of you who’ve already subscribed! Check out all of my food and drink coverage here.

… Sad news for sandwich lovers — chef Anthony Kresge tells me that he will close his Reef Dog Deli in Capitola at the end of next month. The last day will be Saturday, Sept. 23.

But, Kresge says, this is “see you later,” not “goodbye.” His business has outgrown the small shop he opened on Capitola Avenue in Capitola Village, which has only a few tables outside and no indoor seating. He hopes to reopen Reef Dog once he finds an ideal location. “I have a vision in my head of a place that’s family-friendly, with outdoor games, seating, an outdoor smoker, wine and beer,” says Kresge.

I profiled him last year because of his long culinary career in the community, his contributions to many local restaurants and, most importantly, because he makes some of my favorite sandwiches in Santa Cruz County – like the pastrami, made from beef that he brines and smokes himself until the tender, peppery slices practically melt in your mouth. Last year, after much crowdsourcing and taste-testing, I pronounced Reef Dog’s BLT the best in the county.

I can’t wait to see where Reef Dog 2.0 will finally land. In the meantime, Kresge says to keep an eye out for Reef Dog pop-ups on Instagram. He will also lead the Second Harvest Food Bank’s Chefs’ Dinner (more info on that below) and is working on a cookbook, “Beyond the Bread.”

… Save the date for the 21st annual Second Harvest Food Bank Chefs’ Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Elks Lodge in Santa Cruz. At this gala event, seven local chefs team up and each prepares one course of the dinner for a night of feasting and fundraising for Second Harvest’s Food for Children initiative.

This year, the chefs are: Anthony Kresge; Brad Briske of Home restaurant in Soquel; Gema Cruz of Gabriella Café in Santa Cruz; Nick Sherman of Trestles in Capitola; Jesikah Stolaroff of Vim in Santa Cruz; Tabitha Stroup of Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. and Terroir in a Jar in Watsonville; and Tom McNary of La Posta in Santa Cruz. Tickets will go on sale on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

… On Saturday, I attended a Taste of Terroir event at Madson Wines’ tasting room on the Westside in Santa Cruz. It was my first time attending one of these events, which are put on every year by Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, an organization that promotes local wines and wineries.

What impressed me the most about the tasting salon at the beginning of the event was the fascinating confluence of young winemakers like Cole Thomas of Madson, Blake Yarger of Big Basin Vineyards and Ryan Alfaro of Alfaro Family Vineyards pouring next to winemakers who have been doing it for decades, like Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards and Pamela Storrs of Storrs Winery. Not only did we taste some incredible wines; it showcased the legacy of winemaking in the Santa Cruz Mountains and what its winemaking future might look like. Case in point: Madson offered a low-intervention gamay noir, and across the room Emery poured a 25-year-old pinot noir made the year he became the winemaker at SCMV. Further, the event took place inside Madson’s high-ceilinged warehouse winery and tasting room — the same space where Bonny Doon Vineyard made its wine for years. The new and the old (but still vibrant!) converged.

A Taste of Terroir event took place at Madson Wines' tasting room in Santa Cruz in August.
A Taste of Terroir event took place at Madson Wines’ tasting room in Santa Cruz in August.
(Lookout Santa Cruz)

After the salon, we enjoyed a gorgeous family-style feast prepared by chef Amelia Telc of pop-up Brutta. Standout courses included fresh flatbread dragged through silky mascarpone cheese topped with grilled lemon and Parmesan; and grilled steak tagliata with tangy salsa verde, watercress and crispy potatoes. The meal was delicious and also gave a new dimension to the wines. In a speech to those attending, Emery summed up the evening: “This is how Santa Cruz Mountain wines are meant to be tasted.”

There is one Taste of Terroir event left in the season, on Sept. 8 at Thomas Fogarty Winery, and there are still a few tickets available. More info at


Want to stay on top of the latest local food news? I send text alerts every time I publish a story. And you can text me back! Share your thoughts, send tips and give feedback. Sign up below.


After a three-year pause due to the pandemic, the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets pop-up breakfast series returned this summer with two successful events. I attended the final event Aug. 12 — but don’t worry, it’ll be back next year with two to four events, communications and programs manager Nicole Zahm assured me. This event series highlights peak season produce with a multicourse feast prepared by a local chef. Together, both events raised more than $10,000 for the markets’ community food programs.


A traditional Ukrainian korovai bread made by Santa Cruz resident Tatiana Burdiak.
(Via Tatiana Burdiak)

Santa Cruz resident and Ukrainian American Tatiana Burdiak shared this picture of her beautiful korovai, a traditional Ukrainian bread, with me. I was stunned by the intricate, hand-formed details decorating the round, pumpkin-shaped loaf. In Ukrainian culture, bread is sacred, she explains via text, and a korovai is believed to hold magical powers by kneading it during rituals of dance and song. The bread is decorated in ornate, nature-based symbols sculpted out of dough — for example, branches symbolize love and happiness, while a pair of doves represents unity, and braids mean a strong connection. It is traditionally presented to a couple on their wedding day, to guests as a greeting, and, as you can see this weekend, in traditional dances.

Budriak will showcase her homemade korovai in a welcome dance called “pryvit” this Saturday at Ukrainian Art in the Park in Capitola, and it will be on display at the event. Check it out along with a free one-hour Ukrainian dance and music performance and Ukrainian art and food. More info here.


My 2-year-old son, Marco, and I make oatmeal together almost every morning. It’s a nutritious breakfast that we both like, and it’s also a good opportunity for him to practice measuring, pouring, stirring and cutting up bananas and strawberries. On a recent morning, we were fresh out of fruit. So, still just making my way through my first cup of coffee and not in the mood for any critical thinking, I improvised by microwaving a cup of frozen blueberries with a tablespoon of maple syrup. I spooned the warm, jammy blueberries over the oatmeal and, to my surprise, thrilled my toddler. I hadn’t seen him this excited about breakfast since I added cheese to his scrambled eggs (another hit-it-out-of-the-park moment).

Now, according to Marco, fresh fruit is 2000-and-late; microwaved frozen blueberries are in. He literally runs to the freezer every morning to see if we have a bag of blueberries, which I now make an effort to keep stocked. Because honestly, why not? With toddlers, you take your wins where you can, and I’m a fan of anything that guides him toward finding joy in food.


Full Steam Dumpling chef launches Back Door Banh Mi (Lookout)
Wait, it’s Denny’s? The rise of virtual restaurants and the mysterious origins of your delivery order (Lookout)
The bravado, the brand and the beans: Verve Coffee achieves a national footprint (Lookout)


~ Lily