July 13, 2008

Mezzo Bistro Italiano

It was our 11th anniversary yesterday. It started quietly like most anniversaries I can remember in the recent past: Matt waking in the early hours of dawn to go to work, waking me up with a kiss and a "Happy Anniversary" whispered in the dark. Usually I try not to say it back too loudly because I haven't brushed my teeth yet, but he doesn't seem to care. He left for a morning of cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College in a traditional Hawaiian Luau cooking class. I heard a rumor that my banana smoothie was better than the tuna sushi he had for breakfast.

He returned home around 2pm asking if I wanted to try this new Italian restaurant he'd heard a review of on our local public radio station a few weeks ago. I was game for anything! But of course, being Italian & cooking "vegan" Italian is very different from going out for Italian where things are either covered in cheese or cooked w/a meat bone at the bottom of the pot.

He assured me he'd call ahead & talk to the manager about options. It wasn't the manager that got on the phone, it was the Chef himself: Chef Marcus Sgrizzzi! Matt told him that he was taking his vegan wife out for dinner and he was concerned that there wouldn't be anything for her to eat that wasn't appropriate. Chef assured Matt that there was a wonderful beet salad that he could make without the goat's cheese & that the kitchen would whip up anything I could think of - on or off menu. Whoa! Matt quickly made reservations for 5:30pm.

When we arrived at Mezzo, the host said to me, "Oh! You're our vegan tonight! Don't worry, you're going to have a great meal." Excitedly, we sat in our seats near the open kitchen and awaited our server. The waiter read off the specials to Matt then turned to me & said, "The chef has recommended that we start you with the beet salad, then he wanted to make you Linguini Aglio with oil, garlic & spices or a marinara sauce." I thought long & hard... I had just made homemade sauce last Sunday, let's go for the aglio - something I wouldn't make at home because I just don't have access to quality olive oils to make this dish. Eventually, I settled on the aglio, but would the chef add some porcini mushrooms to the mix? Of course!

Beet salad arrived - beets served w/frisee lettuce, balsamic vinegrette reduction & lots of cracked pepper. Simple ingredients, simple presentation, rustic Italian foods just the way I would make them at home. The bread was warm, soft, crusty & served with a dish of olive oil & lemon. After the appetizers (Matt had a bowl of Pasta Fagioli) arrived, the Chef appeared at our tableside.

"You're our vegan! I'm Marc," he introduced himself & shook hands with both of us. He apologized that there wasn't much to offer tonight, but hoped I would like the aglio his cooks were preparing for me. "It's not much, but the next time you come in, call the day before & let me know you're coming. I'll make you something spectacular!"

Ooooh.... two great things here: 1) he wants to make something extra special for me and 2) he's confident enough in his skills tonight to know I'll come back a 2nd time. Yay. I already like this guy.

The Aglio arrived with plenty of chopped garlic, porcini mushrooms and fresh pasta (traditional "pasta" from Italy cannot use anything other than semolina flour & water, salt & oil, to be classified as "pasta" - did you know this?) cooked perfectly al dente!

We did not stick around for dessert - we had big plans for gourmet chocolate at Caesar's Palace.

Mezzo is located just a few miles from our home so we are certain to patronize them again! The prices were spectacular: entrees were $12 each, appetizers under $10. We walked out of there for $54, but left a hefty tip to show our appreciation to our attentive waiter, host & chef.

If you're coming to Vegas, please rent a car & take a trip up to Mezzo Bistro Italiano. And of course, let me know you're coming so I can go with you!!!!

MEZZO BISTRO ITALIANO:

Mezzo Bistro Italiano
4275 N. Rancho Rd.
Las Vegas NV
702.944.8880
Las Vegas Review Journal

5 comments:

Stephanie said...

How fantastic! Table-side chef service. Very nice. :) Happy belated anniversary!

Alan Andersen said...

Simply outstanding restaurant! On our first visit in June we ordered off the menu. The appetizers, entres, and desserts were wonderful and reasonably priced. On a second visit at the tail end of the 4th of July weekend, the chef prepared a special meal of mussels and pasta especially for my 93 year old mother and recommended a great wine to go with it that wouldn't be overpowered by the garlic in the dish and she thoroughly enjoyed both.

Lisa J. said...

Hi Alan! Thanks for stopping by! What a great restaurant, eh? I felt like a queen there!!

Anonymous said...

Glad you had such a great experience. Wish I could say the same. I called a day ahead for a party of six and asked if they could accommodate a vegan. I received a response of, "Oooohhh...we had a vegan party of 12 the other night and there wasn't much we could do for them." I said I would be happy with some pasta with olive oil and garlic and veggies" and was informed that ALL pasta has egg. I mentioned that in Italy, that is not true, which is why I thought to inquire. He kind of wrote me off with a grilled veggie platter option. Didn't even mention the beet salad, hold the cheese. Oh well. We will just end up going elsewhere.

Lisa @ The Vegas Vegan said...

So sorry to hear this. It was 7 years ago that I wrote this post, so I wonder if there was a change in management or ownership? Not a good excuse, though.

You are correct: pasta should not have egg in it. Semolina, oil & water - dry or fresh. I've had restaurants tell me the dried pasta has eggs and I think it's just an excuse to get out of having to make something or put out any effort.

Thanks for letting us all know about this.
-Lisa