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Cafe Mare Italian Restaurant

300 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Special Occasion
  • Good for Groups
  • Fit for Foodies

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Old world charm in the heart of Santa Cruz, authentic Italian cuisine with an extensive wine list and a full bar. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, large groups welcome, patio dining, house made pasta, desserts and bread, gluten free options, all organic produce and sustainable sea food, fresh meats including free range veal. Ample public parking. reservations for groups of 10 or more must leave credit card number, reservations must be cancelled 24 hours prior date of event or $25 per person fee will be charged.
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Italian, Seafood
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Hours of operation
Lunch: Monday - Friday: 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM, Saturday - Sunday: 11:30 AM - 4:00 PM;
Dinner: Monday - Friday: 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM, Saturday - Sunday: 4:00 PM - 10:00 PM
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Phone number
(831) 458-1212
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Jean-Pierre Luliano
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Private party facilities
Cafe Mare is the perfect place for your next private party or a group event. We can accommodate groups up to 150 people and offer private and semi-private seating inside and outside. We offer custom preset menus that will surely satisfy everyone’s craving.
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Private party contact
Jean-Pierre & Andrea Mura: (831) 458-1212
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Please contact the restaurant for details
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Cross street
Cooper street
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Parking details
Parking is available behind the restaurant, at the "Galleria Parking" alley or next to it, at the River Street Garage.
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Public transit
Metro bus station 1 block away.
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Private Parties.
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Special events & promotions
Contact us at 831-458-1212
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Chef's Table, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Farm to Table, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Outdoor Smoking Area, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 300 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
4.3  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OpenTable Diner (New Mexico)
5.0  Dined on September 18, 2017

delicious authentic Italian food. The seasonings were beautifully blended, but the herbs and spices still distinguishable. Good service, though a little over-the-top attentive for my taste.

Colette (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on September 16, 2017

Frutte de Mare with white wine sauce was really delicious. Lasagne left a lot to be desired. Wine was great. Cannoli was excellent. I would return for the fresh, flavorful seafood and romantic ambiance again.

OpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on September 10, 2017

Our waiter was kind and enthusiastic, very good at his job. He had an accent. This place has the best fettuccine Alfredo in town. Nice lighting and great menu options.

vipRalphS (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on September 9, 2017

I would call the food ok to good. My husband and I shared the fried calamari which was a bit rubbery but the dipping sauces excellent, the Caesar salad which was good and we each had a different pinot noir which was good and ok. We each chose a special for the evening again one ( grouper) very good and one (octopus and ling cod linguine) just ok. The service was excellent and we will try again hoping to find the right is definitely worth another try.

OpenTable Diner (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on September 9, 2017

My wife and I have been coming for years and enjoy the variety and authentic foods. Excellent, knowledgeable staff and great overall service. We've even purchased gift certificates for friends and highly recommend this restaurant.

OpenTable Diner (Hawaii)
3.0  Dined on September 9, 2017

Meh. OK food, have had much better for less. My buddy said his meat lasagna was worst he ever had. Other buddy had veggie lasagna and rated it so-so. I had salmon penna and it was OK but nothing special. Was seated quickly on a Saturday night, service was attentive, but later we all thought the waiter was faking his Italian accent.

vipmunchy (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on September 3, 2017

The staff were very attentive and professional. I went on Labor Day weekend and it took 80 minutes for food to arrive from kitchen. Not sure if this is normal or an exception. Everything else was great.

vipBebe (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on September 2, 2017

Great for specials that they offer.
The staff is attentive and several of the waiters have a definite flair when describing the specials.

OpenTable Diner (Sacramento)
5.0  Dined on August 26, 2017

amazing food and lovely waitstaff, most of whom are Italian. we had an amazing conversation with our waiter about his hometown on Lake Garda in Northern Italy and he helped us decide where we would go when we traveled there.
the food was incredibly tasty. and the Limoncello? to die for!

BJBernard (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on August 25, 2017

always a great experience. we had a drink at the bar and they allowed us to bring in a bottle of bubbles! we were celebrating my cousin's birthday so it was a lovely evening. Bella!

Kate (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on August 19, 2017

I always enjoy Cafe Mare. The cuisine is excellent with a good variety to their menu. My only complaint is that I ordered raviolis and only had about five on the plate, which I thought made for an awfully small dinner.

OpenTable Diner (Miami)
5.0  Dined on August 6, 2017

Thanks very much to Daniel and other staff for our pleasantly launch! Very recommend!!!

mjdc (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on August 1, 2017

When our family comes to town, we always enjoy dining here - and this family celebration was no exception. The menu is varied enough to please everyone, and the chef and wait staff are welcoming, friendly, and accommodating. The food and service are exceptional! In addition to the regular menu, the restaurant offers nightly specials, always prepared to perfection. This is our go-to place for a special occasion dinner; we are never disappointed!

OpenTable Diner (New England)
4.0  Dined on July 23, 2017

Was good, have had better but served it's purpose. Good service and chef was very accommodating with ordering off menu.

CARBROOKS (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on July 22, 2017

I wouldn't say any of us had exceptional meals, but food was ok. Service, however, was outstanding and all staff were quite friendly. Our server was exceptional. Small portions for an Italian restaurant--especially stingy with pasta servings. Enjoyed that they were able to alter menu to accommodate requests. Great location in Santa Cruz.

vipArthur (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on July 16, 2017

This is a very good Italian restaurant. The kitchen is willing and able to cook just about anything your palate desires. They have good pasta and ravioli. They have a full bar. I ordered the saltimbocca; it was not that tasty but the clams and mussels appetitizer made up for the difference. They have a full bar and the drinks are very good.

TahoeSwimmer (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on July 14, 2017

We were greeted warmly at the door. Our table was ready. The server was warm, friendly and very Italian. The food was amazing. Loved every bit of our meal.

OpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on July 10, 2017

Friendly but fancy atmosphere, a solid place for an albeit expensive date or special dinner.

vipDeniseVivar (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on July 1, 2017

The service here is always exceptional. They are happy to make menu accommodations and will prepare a number of traditional dishes not on the menu just for the asking. Ask for spaghetti carbonara - it is the best in town.

The room is well-built acoustically so even when it's completely full of patrons the noise level is low and you can actually enjoy dinner conversation without yelling.

midscruz (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on June 30, 2017

The service is good and the menu looked good. However the food doesn't live up to expectations. It is uniformly mediocre or worse. Not one dish met potential. I felt like I could cook it better, and I'm not that good a cook. Salads were blah. Pasta with salmon was dry and overcooked. Calamari was tough. Etc.

OpenTable Diner (Central Coast)
5.0  Dined on June 22, 2017

I have been dining here since Café Mare opened 15 years ago. Best restaurant in Santa Cruz. Warm, friendly staff and owner. Very professional. Exceptional all organic menu, homemade pasta and bread. Exquisite attention to detail. Whether your choice is fish or fowl or beef or vegan or pasta or salad or game, Café Mare can serve it up deliciously. Very inventive and attractive dishes. Also traditional Italian dishes and pizza! You will leave happy!

vipDeniseVivar (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on June 20, 2017

Dinner and service were wonderful, as usual! The menu presents many options and there's something delicious for nearly everyone here.

vipFrances (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on June 18, 2017

Great for graduation dinner with the family - lots of long tables being taken care of consecutively which is always a sign of a good restaurant. We enjoyed the traditional Italian menu and everything we requested on the side was accommodated happily. Good staff and good attitude on a busy evening.

vipSantaCruzLady (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on June 18, 2017

It was Fathers' Day and UCSC graduation weekend so the place was packed with several large groups when the three of us arrived to celebrate a birthday. JP, the owner, stepped in for our waiter who was busy with a group of 17. We appreciated his attention, knowing how slammed they all were. The roasted beet starter we shared was delicious, as were all three of our entrees. We also shared the semifreddo limoncello for dessert--we wanted to lick the plate! Our waiter Adrian even sang happy birthday for our friend. Café Mare continues to be one of our favorite local restaurants.

Lilalondres3 (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on June 18, 2017

Customer service was excellent but food wasn't as great. My spinach pasta was bland, chewy and too thick. Dessert was also uninteresting. Wine was good. The ambiance was too quiet and air conditioning was too cold. Location is great and maybe I would go back if there wasn't anything better than that. I visited this place because it said it was Italian home style food and sustainable conscious.

vipSCDavid (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on June 16, 2017

The usual excellent food and service. Comfortable and welcoming.

Gerry (Tahoe)
4.0  Dined on June 16, 2017

Service was excellent and the meal was very good. Specials of sea bass and carbonara very good as was the pasta with chicken and Seafood Mediterranean. Only negative was we had an elderly lady with a walker and there was no place to drop her off close to the door and the walk from the parking area, including the disabled parking, was rather long for someone with a disability. Definitely a restaurant I would like to return to again.

Robert (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on June 8, 2017

Consistently marvelous food, ambiance, and service. We've been going there since they opened in 2002 and there aren't many places who have been that consistently wonderful for that long. We held my stepdaughter's high school graduation dinner there and it was absolutely impeccable in every respect. Milli grazie, Signori :)

OpenTable Diner (Seattle)
1.0  Dined on May 28, 2017

Rude, arrogant service, complete disregard of guests. Could not get water!

santacruztee (San Francisco)
2.0  Dined on May 28, 2017

They were understaffed and one of the waiters was exhibiting strange behavior-- it was distracting. Our service was slow, yet workers were standing at the bar chatting the entire time. Ordered an Aperol spritz that was incorrectly made. Food was decent-- bolognese was very good.