EATERS DIGEST: Pizza Series, Gilman Brewing to replace two old Tony & Alba’s; Huda’s new flavor-packed vegan lunch

Syrian pop-up Huda serves a flavorful vegan lunch in downtown Santa Cruz inside the NahNa Eritrean food kiosk.
Syrian pop-up Huda serves a flavorful vegan lunch in downtown Santa Cruz inside the NahNa Eritrean food kiosk.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Pop-up Pizza Series finds a permanent home at the old Tony & Alba’s in Scotts Valley, while in Santa Cruz, Berkeley’s Gilman Brewing Co. plans a fall opening at the Tony & Alba’s location on Soquel Avenue in Midtown. Plus, Huda wows with a flavor-packed vegan lunch on Pacific Avenue.

Greetings, fellow food lovers. Changes are coming to two Tony & Alba’s restaurant locations in Santa Cruz County. In Scotts Valley, owner Terri Terwilleger announced this week that the restaurant will close by the end of the month after 16 years. But residents won’t be without pizza for long — pop-up Pizza Series is moving in and plans to add more pizza styles, a pizza window and taproom to the space. And in Santa Cruz, I received confirmation from brewer Sean Wells that Berkeley-based Gilman Brewing Company will open a fourth location, at the old Tony & Alba’s on Soquel Avenue in Midtown, later this summer.

Lily

This week, I had a flavor-packed vegan lunch in downtown Santa Cruz at the NahNa Eritrean food kiosk. Guest chef Fadi Dabs draws inspiration from his Syrian heritage and his travels throughout the Middle East. This Saturday, the Slough Brewing Collective will host an all-vegan beer release party in Watsonville, and Lúpulo Craft Beer House celebrates its eighth birthday.

Read on to find out more …

News

Tony & Alba’s restaurant in in Scotts Valley is closing at the end of the month, owner Terri Terwilleger announced Wednesday. Her husband, David Terwilleger, ran the restaurant in the Kings Village Shopping Center for 16 years, but his recent death and the continued effects of the pandemic have led to the decision to close.

Matt Driscoll, owner of the Pizza Series, hand-tosses a New York-style pizza.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

However, Scotts Valley residents have more pizza coming their way — Pizza Series is taking over the location and has big plans for the space. Earlier this year, I reported on Matt Driscoll’s popular pizza pop-ups at the Enterprise Building in Scotts Valley, where he served hefty Detroit-style pizza and New York-style pies. In March, he suddenly ended the pop-ups to open a slice shack at the Treehouse food court on the Stanford University campus with restaurant developer Ray Klein. Now, Driscoll and Klein are teaming up again to open a permanent home for Pizza Series.

In addition to Driscoll’s Detroit- and New York-style pizzas, they plan to build a wood-fired oven in order to offer Neapolitan-style pizzas as well, which would make it unique in the area with three different styles of pizza under one roof. They will also offer homemade pastas and fresh salads, Driscoll tells me.

On the first level of the three-story restaurant, Driscoll is excited to open a unique taproom, where local breweries can take over for monthslong residences, although he hasn’t spoken to local brewers yet. The team also wants to take advantage of its location next to the CineLux theater with a window where moviegoers can order pizza by the slice.

Pizza Series looks forward to continuing Tony & Alba’s tradition of participating in community events and fundraisers, says Driscoll. He’s hoping to finish a remodel over the summer and open in early fall. Find more information at thepizzaseries.com and on Instagram at @the_pizza_series.

Berkeley-based Gilman Brewing Co. will open a fourth location in Santa Cruz this fall.
Berkeley-based Gilman Brewing Co. will open a fourth location in Santa Cruz this fall.
(Via Nader Khouri)

It just so happens that changes are also coming to the old Tony & Alba’s on Soquel Avenue in Santa Cruz, too. Anyone who has driven by in the past few months might have noticed a fluorescent Gilman Brewing sign hanging in the papered-over windows. Sean Wells, owner and brewer of Gilman Brewing Company, confirmed with me via email that yes, the Berkeley brewery is opening a new tasting room in Midtown. Gilman Brewing makes 35 different seasonal and annual beers, ranging from imperial stouts to hazy IPAs, sours, lagers and saisons, and regularly hosts live music, comedy, trivia and other events. I’ve been to its Berkeley brewery in a warehouse on Gilman Avenue, and enjoyed a crisp, refreshing pilsner and a fun vibe. Wells says he hopes the Santa Cruz location will be open by late summer. Most of the interior work is complete, and Gilman is just waiting for a timeline from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. This will be the fourth location for Gilman Brewing, which also has tasting rooms in Daly City and Pleasanton.

Eat this

I had the most wonderful lunch earlier this week in downtown Santa Cruz. Guest chefs Fadi Dabs and Zane Sawyer from Full Steam Dumpling operate under the name Huda, and can be found Mondays and Tuesdays from noon to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to sellout inside the NahNa Eritrean kiosk across from Bookshop Santa Cruz, preparing fresh, healthy foods with traditional Middle Eastern flavors. My lunch plate came with creamy, tangy hummus; buttery, smoky baba ganoush made with roasted eggplant; and roasted potatoes tossed in spicy, earthy shatta — a traditional fermented red bell pepper paste — topped with intensely garlicky aioli. Everything was drizzled in fragrant olive oil, decorated with slices of thin-skinned Persian cucumber and fresh herbs, and served with a homemade pita.

At downtown pop-up Huda, owner Fadi Dabs draws from his Syrian heritage to make delicious vegan food.
At downtown pop-up Huda, owner Fadi Dabs draws from his Syrian heritage to make delicious vegan food.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

My meal was intensely flavorful — and entirely vegan. Dabs’ food is the antithesis of the sad office desk lunch too many of us settle for during the workday. I walked away feeling nourished in body and soul and full of energy.

Huda, Dabs tells me, is his late mother’s name, which means “right guidance” in Syrian. His food is a tribute to her, and the flavors are drawn from Latakia, her hometown on the coast of Syria. Dabs grew up in Chicago and traveled around the Middle East for much of his adult life. Drawn back to the kitchen, he worked at the now-closed Le Francais in Chicago, once considered one of the best restaurants in America, and did brief internships, or stagiaires, at fine-dining restaurants in Europe. Now in Santa Cruz, Dabs started Huda out of a desire to bring “good, clean food” to the community.

Dabs plans to expand the menu at Huda with more Syrian dishes, but it will always be mostly vegan, he says. On Wednesdays, if his regular menu is sold out — it has been the past two weeks — visitors can expect a spontaneous menu made from ingredients from the downtown farmers market. Follow Huda on Instagram at @hudasantacruz to see its menu and find out about future pop-ups at 11th Hour Coffee on Center Street, to showcase a wider range of Middle Eastern dishes.

Events

This Saturday, head to the Slough Brewing Collective on Hangar Way in Watsonville for a triple vegan collab party that’s totally cruelty-free and definitely flavor-full. The Slough will release Blueberry Heavy Wheat Champion, a wheat beer made with dozens of blueberry donuts from Watsonville’s Hole Foods Vegan Donuts. There will be lots of tasty vegan eats, including vegan Venezuelan arepas from Areperia 831, vegan al pastor and asada tacos from Charra Vegana, and decadent vegan donuts by Hole Foods. DJ duo Ruca Records will provide the soulful, energetic beats. The event starts at 1 p.m. and goes until the vendors sell out.

Lúpulo Craft Beer House is celebrating its eighth birthday Saturday at its taproom in downtown Santa Cruz. The staff will be bringing out some rare and tasty beers to mark the occasion, manager Tom Bentley tells me, including a one-of-a-kind keg from Oakland’s AltBrau called Money in the Hood, bottles from European breweries Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen, and special beers from Santa Cruz microbrewery Private Press. DJ 2 Row — aka Private Press brewer Brad Clark — will spin records. The fun starts at noon and goes until close.

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