One of the nicest things about living in New York is that even though it sucks all the money out of your wallet, there is always a way to pretend you are on vacation without leaving the city. Some people choose to refresh their sense of culture by going to the park or to a new museum exhibit, but I fulfill my needs with cultural eating adventures.
Cultural eating adventure (n): when a hungry individual embarks on a new eating experience. IE: going to a restaurant in a new neighborhood or trying a different type of cuisine to entertain the taste buds. Best enjoyed with company.
I have always wanted to go on a Mediterranean vacation extravaganza, but living in New York and pursuing a career in eating is not the most reliable way to fund this dream. So that is why I decided to go to Mezetto for a nice, long, treat-yoself 7 course meal while every last one of my friends embarked on spring break vacations!
Some info about Mezetto before I show you what I consumed
Mezetto is a Mediterranean-fusion restaurant in the lower east side that serves weekly and weekend brunch and dinner. Yes, they serve brunch on weekdays with bottomless mimosas. I hope you wrote that down somewhere. The chef takes pride in it's menu that puts "a twist on the traditional" fusing Greek, Italian, Israeli and other Mediterranean flavors together to take diners' mouths on a tasty cruise around the Mediterranean.
The name of the restaurant itself is derived from the word, 'Meze,' which refers to a selection of small Mediterranean dishes meant to be served with alcoholic drinks. Why this is the first time I'm hearing of Meze, I don't know. But I love it and think I should have Meze for every meal starting today. Some of the "small dishes" are big enough to feed 3-4 people, making it possible to completely skip entrees and order tons of apps and tons of dranks. But if you like that traditional appetizer, entrée, dessert chronology, the entrées most certainly live up to par.
Here's a roundup of my spring break cultural eating adventure Mezetto:
Falafel on a steamed bun with israeli pickle salsa and harissa aioli. Harissa is a hot sauce or paste made from chili peppers, paprika and olive oil. Harissa aioli is essentially that in garlic mayo form.
Grilled Shrimp Saganaki
Talk about a hidden Greek gem on the menu. This wouldn't have been my first pick as I was distracted by chickpea crab cakes, but hot damn I'm glad the waiter talked me into it. Fresh shrimp with crispy chickpeas (seriously crumble in your mouth type of crispy) , preserved lemon, halumi & harissa cream. Considering naming my next pet Harissa.
Cheesy balls in an oyster mushroom cream sauce with parmesan. Proof that you don't need to go on a wild sprang break to get a generous serving of juicy balls.
This usually comes with two generously sized pieces, but since only so much food can be consumed by humanity, we got one. This octopus is served with heirloom bean succotash, spicy tahini, mint and citrus vinaigrette. It has a great consistency and just the right amount of charred taste.
We wanted to get a true feel for what Mezetto has to offer, so we opted to try a brunch dish, a lunch dish (served at both brunch and dinner) and a dinner dish.
Baked eggs, chickpea, kale, red onion & toast. A rich brunch choice packed with flavor.
Served with goat cheese, basil pesto and roasted red peppers on a fluffy bun. They recommended medium, but I like bloody meat so I would have gotten it medium rare. Regardless, great for lamb lovers.
Seriously... gnocchi on fleek. Giant gnocchis with portobello, shitake, porcini and parmesan. This is a dinner entrée, but could be split with the table as it's very rich and filling.
I had never heard of halva until this dessert was placed in front of me. For those of you who don't know what halva is, it's a Middle Eastern dessert made from sesame flour and honey. The waiter told me that lots of children who grow up in Israel and other areas where halva is popular, tend not to like it when they're young because it's such an acquired taste. This halva is served frozen topped with shredded halva (kind of like cotton candy) and surrounded by a pistachio-filled pool of toffee-coffee sauce. I think if the kids were served this they would have a different opinion.