Monday, November 12, 2012

Hitting A High Note At Mezzo

There’s a simple pleasure of eating good food. Okay, maybe not just good food, but great food. Whether you’re a resident of Windsor, or just coming to the city for a visit, I must encourage you to stop by “Via Italia” along Erie Street, for a mix of contemporary and modern Italian delicacies. We were fortunate to be invited by Filip Roca, the owner of Mezzo Ristorante & Lounge, for a special evening filled with food, music, and a masquerade fashion show.

Mezzo is located at the corner of Marentette Avenue and Erie Street, so you cannot miss it. Although it was too cold, they have a stylish patio area that you can sit and watch the passers-by. Once you walk in, the lounge part of Mezzo is uniquely designed and sectioned off from the dining area. It’s the perfect place to just relax and unwind. The bar is fully stocked and although I am not a drinker, they have a huge selection of imported wines, liquors, and more to choose from.

The dining area at Mezzo really stands out with its vibrant bursts of colour combined with sheer classic style. You can also choose from the cozy booths along the side or if you prefer or a table setting for 2 people or more. The decor is minimal yet calming, which works very well with keeping an elegance, while adding in some beautiful paintings.

It is imperative that you bring your appetite because you will not be able to resist some of the creations that Chef Michael Barlozzari offers. You've probably heard it before, but I have to mention that you cannot go to Mezzo without sampling the ravioli!

I know a lot of people may think that if they wanted ravioli they’d go and open up a can of Chef Boyardee. Well, you can taste the real difference when you get an overly-processed can of junk as opposed to what Mezzo offers; a freshly home-made ravioli that is stuffed with delicious roasted butternut squash and mutzu apples, in a light bacon sun-dried tomato cream sauce.

I also tried the Pollo Funghi. It was a pan seared chicken breast served with a wild mushroom, white truffle cream sauce. On the side was an apple wood smoked cheddar mash and daily vegetable, which ended up being asparagus. I love apple-wood smoked cheddar ANYTHING. The flavours that marry together are so tasty. The chicken breast was very moist and had the ideal plumpness. The last thing anyone wants is a deflated piece of meat on their plate, am I right?

For dessert was crème brulée, which I was excited to try. The best part was just gently cracking the hard caramel topping with a spoon to reveal all the creamy custard underneath. My only complaint, I found it a bit too sweet for my taste.

Aside from the food itself, the presentation of each dish was excellent. It was not overly-done where you can’t figure out what is edible and what actually may end up lodging in your throat.

Also, when I’m dining out, delivering proper service to me either makes or breaks the experience. I don’t care if the food is world-class and it takes 3 weeks to even get a reservation, proper service is crucial for success.

I think everyone can relate to the obvious people-pleasing server who comes back at least 5 times within the first 10-15 minutes to ask how your meal was (even before you put your fork to your mouth!) and then returns again to ask if there is anything more you need. At Mezzo, you could really sense a feeling of pride in the servers. They were very attentive, polite, and well-trained to do their job with ease and efficiency. Obviously, customer service is a priority for them.

Another highlight of the evening was the live music. Instead of hearing a recording of songs that are usually heard from above, this time something very unique was offered; a DJ spinning funky jazz house beats. I’m biased, it was my boyfriend Bill Nuvo, but even if I just saw him for the first time, I would be impressed. People were coming up to him after they were finished their meals saying that they really enjoyed his DJ-ing style.

Being a DJ gets a bad rap because most cannot see the value of “live entertainment” but at a place like Mezzo, steering away from the traditional band/singer idea once in a while, or at least dedicating a night for something different, will set them apart from what everyone else does and I think it really adds a creative element to the atmosphere.

Overall, Mezzo Ristorante & Lounge is a hot spot to be, whether it’s for date-night, a corporate function, or any type of party from graduations to birthdays. It should be on your -must-try restaurant list, or if you’ve been there, it’s time to make an excuse for another trip back.

Viva la Windsor!