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Lillian’s Italian Kitchen opened quietly on July 4, 2007. It’s a joint venture of the owners, Joe and Charlotte Moreno and their sons Chris and Matt. Long time residents of Santa Cruz, the Moreno’s dream was to open a neighborhood place that was an extension of their family kitchen. The inspiration was Grandma Lilly’s wonderful home cooking. Lillian was devoted to family and friends and her life was greatly fulfilled by her love and passion for cooking. Born in Yonkers, New York, Lillian was able to combine traditional Sicilian recipes learned from her parents and the many Italian influences in her neighborhood. Executive Chef Chris honors Lillian’s family recipes as well as offering a variety
Special Diets
Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Lunch, Dinner
Gift Cards Available, Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Parking Available, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts Credit Cards, Table Service
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All reviews meatballs artichoke soup tiramisu wild mushrooms sunday gravy italian food the short rib pasta long wait visiting santa cruz lillians sc
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Reviewed 8 July 2021 via mobile

I rally everything about this place was average. Nothing stood out. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t memorable. For those that like a red sauce this one is more “tomatoes”. The gnocchi didn’t have much flavor at all.

Date of visit: July 2021
Reviewed 25 June 2021 via mobile

A taste of Sunday dinner. Their Sunday gravy(not sauce) I knew I was on to something. So good. Kids had meatballs, other adults had fettuccini other dishes I can’t remember EVERONE liked their dinner, that’s unusual. Ordered online and picked it up.

Date of visit: June 2021
Reviewed 12 June 2021

Food is okay for Santa Cruz which in not the culinary capital of Central California but it is okay. Pasta over or underdone. Food not particularly flavorful. Overpriced and rude and disrespectful hosting. Don't recommend.

Date of visit: June 2021
Reviewed 12 April 2021

We went here based on Yelp and TA reviews. We ordered the truffle stuffed gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce, short rib pasta, and the chicken parmesan. All of the portions were huge and definitely would have split a few dishes instead of ordering a separate dish...for each of us. A bunch went to waste because we were staying in a hotel. The winner was definitely the chicken parmesan. The gnocchi was good but really rich. The short rib pasta was disappointing. Too much raw garlic. Wouldn't order that again. There was a line and without reservations it was going to be 1:45 hour wait. So we opted to order for pickup, which was about 40 min wait. It was a bit surprising to find a large industrial size restaurant. They have a large, impersonal looking indoor dining room and a cute outdoor area in the back parking lot.More

Date of visit: April 2021
Reviewed 10 April 2021

We called in a take out order and loved it so much, we came back again the next night. We enjoyed the gnocchi, eggplant parm, pesto pasta and lasagna. All were wonderful. Next time we are in the area, we will make sure to get...reservations early so we can enjoy dining there.More

Date of visit: April 2021
Reviewed 13 September 2020

We’ve been going to Lilians’s since they were in their tiny restaurant up Soquel Ave. I sometimes miss the little cozy atmosphere. Now it’s been more than discovered and it’s always busy even though the dining room is 5 times the original size. I’ve never...had a bad dish, we stick to the pasta. The Sunday Gravy with meat balls on homemade fettuccine is the perfect comfort food. The Gorgonzola gnocchi with or with out a filet minion is beyond decadent. Right now they have a nice set up in their parking lot due to Covid. They’ve set it up nicely so it feels like a patio vs. part of the parking lot.More

Date of visit: September 2020
Reviewed 22 June 2020 via mobile

Excellent atmosphere and great food. I tried eggplant parmigiana, and we shared the risotto balls with cheese inside! Delicious!

Date of visit: June 2020
Reviewed 15 March 2020

We were visiting Santa Cruz for the weekend and were lucky enough to stumble upon Lillians. It was a pretty busy Saturday night and we didn't have a reservation but were seated at a great table within 15 minutes. I can't say enough about the...food here. We shared three appetizers - the meatballs in Sunday Gravy, the Arancini, and the Garlic Bread. All three very good, but you do not want to miss the meatballs - they were so tender and delicious. Our entrees were the fettuccine Alfredo, gnocchi in pesto cream sauce, and the salmon special. The salmon dish was served with mashed potatoes and broccolini with capers in a lemon beurre blanc and was, in a word, amazing. One of the best salmon dishes I've ever had. The gnocchi were also excellent - very very light and tender. Desserts of creme brûlée and cheesecake were equally good. Service was also exceptional. This place is a gem we'll definitely visit again next time we're in Santa Cruz.More

Date of visit: March 2020
Reviewed 15 March 2020 via mobile

Visited the Lillian’s family the other night... 😁 Dinner with friends are always my favorite. The more the merrier and I get to see more of what a restaurant has to offer... 😏 While some restaurants already feel the absence due to the Coronavirus, Lillian’s...seemed unimpressed with a full house. 👏🏼 We enjoyed a great evening with lovely service and amazing food. While everything looked great and all friends were happy, I have to admit that the chicken parm looked so good that that probably would be my recommendation... 😁More

Date of visit: March 2020
Reviewed 14 March 2020 via mobile

I came to Lillians 3 years ago when I last visited and came back again tonight. Still amazing as it was last then. The artichoke soup is absolutely amazing and then had the prawn Diavola fettuccine which was equally as amazing. Highly recommend visiting, we...came early at 5pm so got a spot straight away but I know there’s usually a long wait if you come later.More

Date of visit: March 2020
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Questions & Answers
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29 July 2017|
AnswerShow all 6 answers
Response from ckf722 | Reviewed this property |
Yes, you can substitute gluten free pasta or order your dish over polenta instead of their normal pasta.
Laura B
5 May 2017|
Response from JeriLG | Reviewed this property |
No, it is not. There would be a corking fee. But, they do have a great selection of wines.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Lillian's Italian Kitchen

Yes, Lillian's Italian Kitchen offers takeaway services.

Lillian's Italian Kitchen is rated accordingly in the following categories by Tripadvisor travellers:
  • Food: 4.5
  • Service: 4.5
  • Value: 4