By Melissa Hutsell
Take your taste buds on an adventure out of San Joaquin and into the Mediterranean, where passion and heritage is tasted in each bite. At Stockton’s Mezzo Italian Bistro, that’s exactly what you’ll find – a vacation from your average entrees, so full of flavor it transcends the Central Valley. The modern restaurant, chic atmosphere and intimate patio offers San Joaquin diners Southern European cuisine inspired by local favorites.
The eatery opened its door to the community on June 30, 2010 as a neighborhood bistro, says Melissa Goodman, General Manager. Since, Mezzo has become a local staple in the dining scene, offering an ever-evolving menu that grows with the seasons. “The menu changes every three months,” adds Melissa, with freshly sourced, Central Valley produce. The staff at Mezzo prides themselves on exclusively handcrafted food and drink menus that come complete with house-made sauces like Bolognese, pastas, focaccia and soups made with authentic ingredients.
In addition to extensive meat, seafood and salad options, Mezzo offers vegan, vegetarian and gluten free choices, “we are really flexible,” describes Melissa, who says practically any items can be made to cater to dietary preferences – even the pastas and proteins, which can be substituted for a variety of healthy alternatives including Quinoa and Farro, or fruits and vegetables.
Chef Buddy O’Dell, a San Joaquin native and food extraordinaire, takes a spin on ‘normal dishes,’ adding his own eclectic mix of the Mediterranean with Middle-Eastern influences, “You can’t find anything else like it in town.” With his own fusion of herbs, nuts, grains and dried fruit, O’Dell is changing the game and his own recipes to reflect seasonal offerings, all of which add to the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. Staying true to the Mediterranean-Italian cuisine, Chef O’Dell’s simple yet sophisticated recipes not only inspire the foodie in all of us, but also ignite memories. “The food brings you back to a time and place,” explains Melissa, who describes a moment in the restaurant when a woman began to shed tears while enjoying her meal. The authenticity of the recipe had triggered memories of her grandmother’s cooking.
For this reason and so much more, the Mezzo menu is only part of the experience at this community-based bistro. The restaurant is set apart from others in the region because of “the food, the atmosphere and the people,” describes Melissa, whose staff builds relationships that become part of the customer’s lives, and a part of the community they serve. “They come for the food but come back for the relationships they build with staff and other customers.”
Mezzo’s menu is perfectly complimented with its fantastic wine list, which features San Joaquin wineries such as Klinker Brick, Mettler, Bokisch, McManus and Lange Twins. Also found on the wine list are imported favorites that reflect the themed Italian cuisine. The restaurant goes above and beyond to offer entirely handcrafted cocktails, using no pre-made mixtures, only hand-squeezed juice for the ultimate refreshment to be enjoyed inside or outdoors.
This year, Mezzo celebrates its fifth year with the introduction of the bistro’s Sunday brunch. With classics like pancakes and eggs, the elegant brunch features mouthwatering options such as Eggs Benedict and French Toast with a blueberry compote, pan fried and topped with a black pepper cinnamon whipped cream. Top off your late-morning meal with a house-made Sangria, Bloody Mary, or Mimosa among many more options. On the lighter side, the restaurant offers Tapas Tuesday, featuring small plates and cuisine from around the world.
The remarkable dishes aren’t they only works of art gracing the bistro. While the restaurant’s approach to cultural cuisine and sustainability is impressive enough to draw even the pickiest eaters in, the Mezzo experience is topped off with a gallery of local artwork that changes every four to six months, showcasing the many talents of San Joaquin. Every other Friday, customers can catch a relaxing, romantic evening Jazz ensemble on the patio, courtesy of Lincoln High. The art, music and food all come together for the unmatched authenticity and a relaxing environment that embraces the Italian way of life – great food and family. So, indulge all your senses with this all-around experience.
For more information:
349 Brookside Rd., Ste. A, Stockton