December 22, 2020 – Naming a business after a beloved pet is guaranteed to bring smiles to everyone’s face, and if you’ve ever met chef Anthony Kresge’s golden lab named Reef you already know the story. Reef is a living legend and has been chef Anthony’s sidekick since he worked at Burrell School Vineyards in outside sales, back when we were much, much younger. Where did 16 years go?
Kresge, a Napa native who attended high school in St. Helena, and whose parents still live there, has been part of the Santa Cruz scene for over three decades. The ocean drew him here, but it was his love of fine food and wine that fueled his desire to do something other than surf—a deep and abiding passion. If he has a lodestar, it is at the intersection of the best wine, food and friends that one can imagine. He lives to make people happy. Like they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.
Over the years Kresge’s appetite for concocting great food has done him proud, serving up amazing meals at Motiv (Santa Cruz), keeping Silicon Valley engineers well-fed at Arcade in Santa Clara and at other startup cafés as part of the Silicon Valley’s Epicurean Group. Locally, he thrived by creating excellent menus for places like Sotola in Capitola, VinoCruz in Soquel and Red Berry Café in Los Altos. You may remember he also did stints at Shadowbrook in Capitola, and at Seabright Deli, which provided the spiritual framework for Reef Dog Deli. Most recently, Kresge helped build what is now the go-to spot for burgers in downtown Santa Cruz, Belly Goat Craft Burgers at Abbott Square, where you can indulge in divine patties made of your choice of beef, lamb, bison or portabello mushrooms, topped with insanely tuned toppings.
Yet, for all this success, Chef Anthony has always wanted a place of his own, something he could share with his wife Jennet, and a place where he could deliver food from the heart. “I wanted this to be a place where I could showcase the great culinary bounty we have all around us in this community,” says Kresge. “Reef Dog Deli should be a place to come when you’re hungry for something that feeds your soul.”
He says is wife Jennet, a realtor, will be in and out of the kitchen when she’s not showing homes. Even their kids will pitch in, but it’s that sweet old dog Reef, who has been a local on the beaches in Santa Cruz since he was a wee pup, who will oversee your experience at the Deli. His ever-smiling visage, captured in stunning enlarged images by two local photographers, will beam approval of your every choice.
Among the selections will be a craft sandwich bar, featuring house-smoked meats like pastrami on Jewish rye and bone-in roasted ham shoulder with melted Gruyère on brioche, plus seeded seared Ahi with gochujang mayo and celery root slaw. But honestly, this one sounds more like chef Anthony than anything: cherrywood bacon wrapped tenderloin porchetta with fennel-herb stuffing, onion-garlic mojo, pesto aioli and baby lettuce, all on a toasted ciabatta roll. Order up!
There’s a great selection of charcuteries, salami, cheeses and wild boar sausages, a Grab n’ Go bar with locally made items like smoked chicken salad, ancient grains salad with kale and sweet potatoes, housemade artichoke hummus, marinated Castelvetrano olives, roasted garlic confit, organic peppers with garlic and tomatoes, jalapeno pickles, bread and butter, chimichurri and more. Grab sliced cheeses and specialty items like Manchego, Humboldt Fog, Point Reyes Blue and Grana Padano. There will also be a selection of meats and seafood, all ready for home chefs to prepare. Call the shop to order custom cuts.
Kresge says they will constantly add items, based on demand. Although he does not yet have a beer and wine license, there will be plenty of bottled drinks, waters and Italian sodas. They plan to start coffee service in a couple of weeks, serving Cat & Cloud, and he plans a bagel bar, boiled and baked in house with his own smoked fish and lox. At some point, he’ll add complete take away meals.
If you have not yet ordered your holiday meats, call the deli so they can customize something for you: prime rib, filet, local seafood and more. With all those years in the biz, the man has connections galore, so you might as well take advantage of them!
Reef Dog Deli is located at 311 Capitola Ave. Capitola, CA 95010. Winter deli hours are Wednesday—Sunday, 10am—5pm. Closed Monday/Tuesdays, except for Monday Holidays.
Order online at reefdogdeli.com, over the phone (831.854.2184), by email at email@example.com , or in person. All items are To Go only.
Please practice safe CDC COVID-19 prevention guidelines: please wear a mask and practice social distancing. They will offer e-bike deliveries of items anywhere in Capitola Village proper, and within a two-mile radius. “I’m not using any middlemen!” says Kresge.
Welcome, Reef Dog Deli, just in time for the holidays!
Laura Ness is a longtime wine journalist, columnist and judge who contributes regularly to Edible Monterey Bay, Spirited, WineOh.Tv, Los Gatos Magazine and Wine Industry Network, and a variety of consumer publications. Her passion is telling stories about the intriguing characters who inhabit the fascinating world of wine and food.