Edible Monterey Bay

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PG’s Mezzaluna Brings Fresh, Seasonal Approach to Italian Cuisine

Since opening this past April, Mezzaluna Pasteria & Mozzarella Bar has become the new favorite restaurant for many Pacific Grove residents as well as diners all over the Monterey Peninsula and beyond. Now, in keeping with chef Soerke Peters’ philosophy of eating with the seasons, the Mezzaluna menus have been updated to reflect the winter bounty of the Central Coast.

But that isn’t the only change at the restaurant. Mezzaluna has also added a special Sunday brunch menu that’s creative and playful, paired with bubbly Italian spritz cocktails, and a new to-go menu offering housemade pasta, sauces and gelato, as well as wine to take home.

Tater Tot Waffles at Mezzaluna’s new Sunday Brunch (photo: Manny Espinoza)

Peters was already an energetic force in the Carmel restaurant community, first as chef and co-owner at Basil Seasonal Dining, which he left to take charge of Village Corner. After Village Corner, he opened États-Unis French-American Bistro, which is still under his direction. 

Peters and partner Amy Stouffer really had no plans to run yet another restaurant, but an opportunity to take over a spot in Pacific Grove presented itself early in 2019 and they couldn’t say no. The couple had recently returned from a European trip and inspired by simple, handcrafted cuisine they had enjoyed there, they went about creating Mezzaluna.

“It was a shot in the dark, really,” says Peters. “I didn’t know much about Pacific Grove at all. But we were busy right from day one. We really appreciate the support we’ve received from the community of Pacific Grove.”

Mezzaluna’s name has a dual meaning in Italian. It’s a term for a half-moon (as in pastas), but also refers to a crescent-shaped kitchen tool used for chopping herbs and vegetables. The vision behind Mezzaluna is creating Italian food based on local ingredients from the Central Coast, with a menu that changes depending on what’s in season, built around Peters’ fresh pastas, hand-pulled mozzarella and housemade gelato.

Along with that philosophy of using simple ingredients to create memorable dishes is a commitment to doing good for the environment. Peters—who has received the Ocean Hero Award from the Monterey Bay Aquarium for his responsible sourcing of seafood—also earned Green Restaurant certifications for his Carmel restaurants and recently obtained the same certification for Mezzaluna, for sourcing sustainable, local ingredients, reducing water and energy consumption, recycling and reusing waste, and minimizing disposable containers and utensils.

Chef-owner Soerke Peters

Sustainability has been a way of life for Peters since he was a youth growing up in Germany, where he often helped his grandmother prepare meals, an experience that inspired him to make cooking his profession.

After coming to the United States in 1991, Peters worked in New York City and Los Angeles before coming to Carmel. He is active in the American Culinary Federation Monterey Bay chapter as chair of the Green & Sustainable Committee and chapter president. 

Inspired by the bounty of the Monterey Bay area, Mezzaluna’s new winter menu will include Porcini Fettuccine, topped with foraged chanterelles and other wild mushrooms; Al Nero con Vongole (squid ink linguine with clams); and Mastro Ravioli di Granchio, highlighted with local Dungeness crab, sautéed spinach, and crispy yams.

On the cocktail front, bartender Francis Verrall announces a Sage Gin Tonic with Wilder Gin, Fever Tree light tonic, sage, citrus and juniper.

Peters is also excited about Mezzaluna’s new to-go menu which will provide easy, convenient dinners to pick up at the restaurant. Online ordering will soon be available through the Mezzaluna website so that people can choose an uncooked fresh pasta that they can prepare at home, along with a delicious sauce from the restaurant. Wine can also be ordered to go, since Mezzaluna is a wine retailer as well, and appetizers and gelatos will also be available to take and enjoy. 

“You will be able to order at any time online, then you can walk in, pick it up, and you’re ready to go,” says Peters.

Mezzaluna’s Sunday brunch launched recently, with a unique menu that includes everything from housemade “tater tot” waffles to Italian eggs benedict and lobster mac and cheese. Brunch is available every Sunday from 10:30am to 2:30pm. The innovative brunch menu is highlighted by Chef Peters’ frittatas served in mason jars—one layered with kale, sweet sausage and yams and another with wild foraged mushrooms and Fontina.

Shakshuka Puttanesca served in a cast iron skillet (photo: Manny Espinoza)

Peters and Stouffer are playing up the classic Italian tradition of gathering around food and drink on Sundays, creating a multicourse pranzo filled with food, family and laughter. Making this brunch even more distinctive are light and bubbly Italian spritz cocktails specially crafted for the meal.

Known for its creative cocktail program, Mezzaluna is also offering a drink menu centered around Italian spritz cocktails—refreshing aperitifs that call to mind an Italian piazza at dusk. Some of the highlights include the Sgroppino, which includes chef’s housemade Meyer lemon, blood orange or elderberry sorbetto, blended with Humboldt organic vodka and prosecco; Back to Black, a sophisticated cocktail made with Illegal Mezcal Joven, Campari, Branca Menta and Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur; and Sbagliato Rosa, a twist on a negroni, made with Cappelletti, Cocchi Rosa, sparkling rosé and grapefruit.

Mezzaluna also offers a happy hour Italian style, called the Aperitivo Hour, from 4:30-6:30pm on weekdays (except Tuesday, when the restaurant is closed). In addition to drink specials, a variety of appetizers are available, including a selection of crostini and salumi platters.

Food, fun and community—in less than a year, Mezzaluna has provided a unique gathering place in Pacific Grove, with more innovations on the way.

Mezzaluna Pasteria & Mozzarella Bar • 1188 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove • 831.372.5325 • www.mezzalunapasteria.com

About the author

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Kathryn McKenzie, who grew up in Santa Cruz and now lives on a Christmas tree farm in north Monterey County, writes about the environment, sustainable living and health for numerous publications and websites. She is the co-author of “Humbled: How California’s Monterey Bay Escaped Industrial Ruin.”