Friday, February 27, 2009

La Mezzaluna - Princeton, NJ

Tonight we were invited to dinner with Mike, Gabi, and Charnel at La Mezzaluna in Princeton. This is yet another restaurant that we have walked past countless times, but have never taken the time to dine at. What a true pleasure it was tonight, and it will not be our last time there!
Mike had called and made reservations with the owner, who is a friend of his, so we met them there. Upon walking in, and even walking by in the past, I had always thought this was a small little hole in the wall. With only 3 tables in the front room, you would never guess that the back room opens up to a nice large dining room, with vibrant colors, sexy lighting, and stainless steel topped tables. We were seated at a nice booth in the back of the restaurant that seated 6 people comfortably. Within 20 minutes, there was not an open table in the restaurant, and Princeton was out on the town at 8:30 on a Friday night.
As the owner, who's name I cannot remember escorted us to our table, he already had the wine glasses out, and had taken our wine. The first thing I notice is the nice Schott glasses. These are by far the nicest stems I have seen at a restaurant in a long time, and adds a very nice touch. I wish more restaurants would use this philosophy, although we usually bring our own stems when were are dining by ourselves at a BYO.
We started off with appetizers, and being a Friday in Lent, we had to stay away from the meats. That being said, Zelda and I decided to split the gnocchi appetizer, served with nice vodka sauce, accompanied by cherry tomato, sun dried tomato, and fresh leaf of spinach. This had great flavors, and I would definitely order this again. Other appetizers at the table included a shrimp ravioli that looked incredible, as well as a nice risotto that Mike and Gabi shared. In short, the appetizers came out fast, looked gorgeous, and were nice sized portions!
So onto dinner, Zelda ordered the risotto special, that was filled with rock shrimp, zucchini, eggplant, and touch of pesto. The shrimp on this dish could very well be the most perfectly cooked shrimp I have ever, which is a very bold statement considering how much shrimp I eat. The flavor in the risotto itself was absolutely incredible, and she stated, it reminded her of the risotto we ate on our honeymoon in Italy. This was as authentic as it gets, and right here in Princeton! Life is good!
As much as I wanted to order one of the fish dishes on the menu, I opted for the Capellini, filled with shrimp, clams, mussels, sun-dried tomatoes, and baby spinach in a white wine garlic sauce. There is nothing complex about this dish in my opinion, but they did it absolutely correctly. The seafood was all cooked perfectly, and the pasta was perfect. The flavors melded together very nicely, and this too was a pleasure. This is a dish that I could eat over and over, and I could never have too much garlic! I love pasta served in a white wine garlic sauce, and this was no exception. Delish!
Other dishes at the table included the Dorado. This was absolutely gorgeous, and filleted table side. The fish came out with a gorgeous crispy skin, and our server did a great job filleting it. She has definitely had some practice with this, and had it down to a science. This dish smelled gorgeous, and I look forward to going back and trying it for myself in the future.
Char wanted to eat lite and ordered the warm braised duck salad, with crisp goat cheese, butter lettuce, toasted almonds and agro dolce vinaigrette. This looked very nice as well, and was a good sized. Unfortunately, I forgot what the second Mike ordered.
We were told that we could not pass on dessert, and that the hazelnut gelato was to die for. I took that advice, and went for a scoop of the hazelnut, as well as a scoop of the vanilla. This was absolutely incredible, and made right there in house. What a treat! Mike and Gabi ordered the flambe, and topped with hazelnut gelato. The owner came out and cooked this table side, and it consisted of fresh strawberry, raspberries, and blueberry, and looked and smelled delicious! This will definitely be ordered the next time we return.
We capped the night off with the owner's homemade limoncello, which he delivered himself, and this was a nice treat. This was a very smooth limoncello, compared to the "knock your socks off" limoncello that I make every year. I really enjoyed this as it was super smooth, and very easy to sip, and I especially enjoyed the conversation we had with the owner/chef. He is a class act.
All in all, a fabulous meal, with great service, in a cozy atmosphere. La Mezzaluna is the real deal, and we look forward to making this a place that we frequent. As an added bonus, La Mezzaluna is BYOB, so grab a bottle of your favorite Super Tuscan wine, and enjoy a great evening out! Cheers!
La Mezzaluna
25 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ
Phone: 609-688-8515
Fax: 609-688-8518
Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures tonight, and all the pictures that I found online were out of date, so I did not find it fair to post these pictures here as it would not give a feel for the restaurant as it is seen today.

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