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Cypress Beach House offers al fresco dining atop Pismo's Inn at the Pier

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Inn at the Pier at Pismo Beach has a new feather in its cap: a breathtaking eatery on its rooftop.

Cypress Beach House opened its doors in July after a major renovation, and now "the sky's the limit," said Caleb Granski, the hotel's food and beverage manager.

Added Kristin Cavalli, regional director of operations for hotel-management firm Quorum, the oceanfront property boasts "the only rooftop dining experience in Pismo Beach, and we're really proud of that."

"It's great to be able to offer our community something completely unique," she added.

FAN FAVORITE Cypress Beach House's cioppino, based on the San Francisco original, features ample fresh seafood in a spicy white-wine tomato broth. Soak up the last drops with grilled sourdough bread. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • FAN FAVORITE Cypress Beach House's cioppino, based on the San Francisco original, features ample fresh seafood in a spicy white-wine tomato broth. Soak up the last drops with grilled sourdough bread.

Granski of Orcutt and Cavalli of Buellton are also over the moon about the eatery's chef and new menu, specializing in Italian and California coastal cuisine.

Formerly the outlet manager for dining experiences at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Georgia, Granski returned to his hometown on the Central Coast in late 2022 and helped reimagine the hotel's original restaurant, The Rooftop.

PIER-FECT VIEW Cypress Beach House—formerly The Rooftop—at Inn at the Pier in Pismo Beach was recently remodeled and now seats 110 guests on an expansive oceanfront patio. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CYPRESS BEACH HOUSE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Cypress Beach House
  • PIER-FECT VIEW Cypress Beach House—formerly The Rooftop—at Inn at the Pier in Pismo Beach was recently remodeled and now seats 110 guests on an expansive oceanfront patio.

"We have all of the right people in place—including Executive Chef Ricky Sausser—to become the go-to spot in Pismo Beach," he said. "I love everything chef puts forth. He leads the team with genuine enthusiasm and really pours his heart and soul into every dish he makes."

Cavalli, a hospitality industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, is equally excited about the restaurant's potential under Sausser.

"Chef Ricky is an incredible talent and master of his craft," she said.

Raised in the Lake Tahoe area, Sausser gained a passion for cooking at the age of 15 when he joined the kitchen staff at Ice Lakes Lodge in Soda Springs. His 20-year career includes stints as chef of 22 Bistro in Olympic Valley, California, and Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern in Missoula, Montana.

PASTA A LA PACIFIC Executive Chef Ricky Sausser tosses Sogna Toscano linguini with Pacific steamer clams at Pismo's Cypress Beach House, specializing in Italian and contemporary California cuisine. - COURTESY PHOTO BY VICTOR RAMIREZ
  • Courtesy Photo By Victor Ramirez
  • PASTA A LA PACIFIC Executive Chef Ricky Sausser tosses Sogna Toscano linguini with Pacific steamer clams at Pismo's Cypress Beach House, specializing in Italian and contemporary California cuisine.

In 2022 he accepted a position at Inn at the Pier, happy to relocate to the Central Coast's "beautiful weather, regional produce, and wine country," he said.

Built in 2017, the hotel was prepping for a massive overhaul and new affiliation with Curio Collection by Hilton, touting "one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts with distinct character."

Sausser was particularly lured by the team's vision of what is now Cypress Beach House.

"We have all new furniture, new china, glassware, and silverware, and an artist painted a beautiful mural as well," he said. "Ownership really went all out to make it a unique spot in Pismo."

With a "laid-back, yet sophisticated setting," drawing locals and tourists, Sausser said he aims to keep them returning with his menu and motto: "Use the best ingredients you can find, cook intuitively using all your senses, and less can be more."

SEASIDE SIPS Signature cocktails at Cypress Beach House include the 'Cicletta, featuring prosecco, strawberry-infused vermouth, Campari, and seltzer. Wine and beer from Italy and California, and a variety of nonalcoholic options are offered as well. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • SEASIDE SIPS Signature cocktails at Cypress Beach House include the 'Cicletta, featuring prosecco, strawberry-infused vermouth, Campari, and seltzer. Wine and beer from Italy and California, and a variety of nonalcoholic options are offered as well.

Sausser's niche is "fusing contemporary Californian cooking with comforting Italian favorites," he explained.

Standout appetizers at the restaurant include bison meatballs, fried calamari, and ricotta toast.

"Our bison meatballs are my personal recipe based on traditional Sicilian meatballs, but we use bison instead of ... beef," he said. "I think it gives it a more rounded flavor. The secret is adding currants, pine nuts, and lots of Parmesan. You also need to let the breadcrumbs soak in milk before mixing.

"We cook them with our spicy pomodoro sauce and burrata cheese. The burrata adds a creaminess to balance the acidity of the pomodoro."

The calamari dish also gets a kick from spicy tomato sauce, complemented by a green olive aioli, while the simple yet elegant ricotta toast offers subtle flavors of honey and orange.

Dinner entrees include pasta, seafood, beef, chicken, and vegetarian options.

Braised short rib rigatoni is the restaurant's most popular pasta.

"It has an incredible depth of flavor and is so comforting," Sausser said, jokingly adding that "it's like the dish itself hugs you."

However, the restaurant's pièce de résistance is its cioppino—"something I recommend to anyone that likes seafood," Sausser said.

SAUSSER SPECIALTY Cypress Beach House Executive Chef Ricky Sausser's original-recipe bison balls—a sharable plate—are slathered in spicy tomato-based pomodoro sauce and creamy burrata cheese. - PHOTO BY CHERISH WHYTE
  • Photo By Cherish Whyte
  • SAUSSER SPECIALTY Cypress Beach House Executive Chef Ricky Sausser's original-recipe bison balls—a sharable plate—are slathered in spicy tomato-based pomodoro sauce and creamy burrata cheese.

"Our cioppino is a recipe based off the original San Francisco seafood stew," he explained. "It's fresh seafood—heavy on the clams because we are in Pismo Beach, after all—cooked in a spicy white-wine tomato broth. We use head-on shrimp to have a more intense flavor. We season the broth with a little fennel seed and finish it with lemon juice and fresh parsley to brighten it up."

On weekends, check out the restaurant's brunch menu, featuring dishes ranging from brioche French toast, buttermilk hotcakes, eggs Benedict, chilaquiles, and short rib hash to shakshuka, a slow-cooked tomato and sweet pepper stew with baked eggs, chickpeas, and yogurt.

Completing the picture is a full-service bar. Sip handcrafted cocktails, curated local and Italian wine and beer, kombucha, espresso, tea, and more.

Sausser and his colleagues are proud of their menu, showcasing imported specialty ingredients, regional proteins when available, and fresh local produce, primarily from wholesale distributor The Berry Man in San Luis Obispo.

"I want Cypress Beach House to be the premier restaurant in Pismo for locals and people traveling to the area," Sausser said. "If you haven't been in yet, come see us. ... We have a fantastic team."

And the view is extraordinary.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CYPRESS BEACH HOUSE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Cypress Beach House

Cypress Beach House Ricotta Toast

Whipped ricotta

• 1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) whole ricotta

• Approximately 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil—more as needed

• Kosher salt to taste—approximately 1/2 teaspoon

• Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Add the ricotta, salt, and black pepper to a food processor and blend. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream to incorporate. Pause to scrape the sides. The mixture should become creamy as it whips. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and olive oil. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate.

Ricotta toast

• 1 piece sourdough bread, sliced 3/4-inch thick

• 2 teaspoons olive oil

• 3 1/2 ounces—approximately 1/2 cup—whipped ricotta in a piping (pastry) bag with a large round tip

• 1/4 teaspoon orange zest

• 2 teaspoons honey

• Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

• Maldon salt to taste

Slather the sourdough bread on both sides with olive oil, season lightly with kosher salt to taste, and grill until lightly charred and toasted on both sides. Remove and cut in half. Place on a plate together as one piece. Drizzle honey over both halves. Top with piped, whipped ricotta. Garnish with orange zest, fresh ground black pepper, and Maldon salt to taste. Serve immediately. Δ

Flavor Writer Cherish Whyte will be returning at sunset for round two. Contact her at [email protected].

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