It can be easy to walk past long-established restaurants like Dublin’s Mezzo. But that would be a mistake. While Bridge Park is the current suburban “it” destination, Mezzo resides in Old Dublin where he settled in 2011. The name, “mezzo”, translates from Italian to English as “medium “, and it is intended to position the restaurant in the culinary niche somewhere between old school and sophisticated. At the same time, the restaurant fills that niche with a menu of options that are far too good to qualify as mediocre or “mediocre”.
Mezzo has long been renowned for its outdoor dining scene, but there’s also something to be said for its indoor seating options (in addition to air conditioning). Warm service in an interior mix of natural wood and stone with pub-style chandeliers makes the place luxurious and cozy at the same time.
From the aperitifs, the guests can start a meal with a Bruschetta board ($16), luxuriously appointed with a bountiful supply of velvety, positively addictive herb ricotta with layers of subtle flavor that complement the fluffy homemade bread. It’s accented with quartered tomatoes, as well as a punchy tapenade that delivers crisp olive flavor in a spreadable form.
There are a few pizza options, ranging from a traditional cheese to something with sausage and peppers. The pies are built on a crispy crust, and the Daisy ($17) sports a classic marinara base with fresh, silky mozzarella, tomato, and a pleasantly tangy finish courtesy of pecorino romano. All in all a solid pizza…but then Columbus is home to a lot of solid pizzas.
Instead, investigate something along the lines of Gnocchi ($27). This dish is more difficult to make well. At Mezzo, the perfectly tender potato pods are accented with extremely soft short ribs with a copious amount of sauce that fills the space somewhere between the cream and the tomato (not as tangy as a marinara, not as heavy than a traditional cream). Thoughtful bites are best, but there is also a strong temptation to swallow it.
The pasta menu extends to classics that include lasagna and spaghetti, but Mezzo also includes modern vegan versions of traditional combos. Concrete example, the Vegan Orecchiette ($24) dresses tender little cups of pasta with crumbs of meatless sausage substitute and velvety sautéed spinach with sweet onions and tomatoes with a vodka sauce. Although sausage doesn’t necessarily fool a committed carnivore, it does have its own charms.
In addition to the range of pizzas and pastas, the menu has options for more meat-centric meals that venture into high-end steak or seafood dishes. Meanwhile, the bar offers an extensive beer and wine list as well as cocktails that lean toward the classics: Peach Mules, Old Fashioneds, and Pitchers of Sangria.
Things are getting exciting again in the dessert realm. This is where the flourless chocolate cake ($13) resides; an intense masterpiece in its own rite, it plays on a deeply flavored scoop of cherry ice cream that sits on top of an almond crumble that mixes it with a bit of streusel-like textural interest.
Mezzo is located at 12 W. Bridge St. It opens for dinner at 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
For more information, visit mezzodublin.com.
All photos by Susan Post