Mezzo Mezzo for dinner, not sandwiches
I have not had sandwiches at Mezzo Mezzo, but my wife and I did enjoy dinner there recently, despite some shortcomings. Bread was a fine example of dense white bread of a kind not often found in restaurants anymore, with good olive oil and balsamic. We started with two carpaccio dishes, she the beef, me the octopus. Beef was, as mentioned above, disappointing and we thought it merely pleasant. The octopus, in razor thin slices, was much better and although my personal taste would have had it even more octopussy in taste. We each ordered the green salad, although had we first seen the size of the carpaccio plates and the greens that came with them, we might have skipped it. And in fact, the servers did skip it. First a busser came by and picked up our app plates and silver, then we waited a good while and our main server came by and asked how we liked the salads. When we said we had yet to get them, she was chagrined and hastened off. But it was still a long while before they came. Nice greens, wonderful balsamic vinaigrette. Our main courses came in good time, however, and they were large plates with a very healthy serving of a selection of al dente vegetables along side. My wife ordered the rack of lamb which came perfectly rare as ordered with a tasty porcini sauce. I ordered the Sicilian-style rabbit (with pine nuts, capers, raisins). My rabbit was too dry but I enjoyed it anyway. Vegetables bland but welcome. I have a suspicion that whatever the confusion with service was may have contributed to the rabbit being overdone. Moreover, my critical notes are more in service of delivering a thorough report than they are seriously negative. I plan to try several more menu items here in every category.
The wine list is short, almost all Italian and Sicilian. We tried glasses of a couple of the Sicilian offerings, in keeping with the cuisine. Unfortunately, I belatedly realized that I did not take note of what they were. Chowhound apologies for the lapse. They went well with our meal, I can say that.
And I save the best for last. We decided to skip desserts but each ordered espresso and it was the best espresso we have ever had. I mean the very best. I would go back for that alone. As we sipped it, our server came by to say the owner wanted a word with us. He came by--very pleasant guy, sincerely interested in our response to the place--and aplogized for the gaffe in service. To make up for it, he asked if we would enjoy a sip of grappa. (They serve only wine and beer; this was to be a gift from his personal supply.) I love grappa, even when it is medicinal and harsh; but this was a very generous pour of wonderfully fruity and smooth grappa.
I assume that the service glitches and minor food issues will be worked out. As it was, we were pleased by the meal, felt well-treated, and will be back. It is the most interesting Italian place in Marin; that is clear. With Om a couple of blocks away, and some places I have yet to try, it seems that San Rafael is developing a nice collection of unique places worth a visit.
1025 C St (just north of 4th St)
Yeah, I hope San Rafael starts to give Petaluma real competition ... for selfish reasons ... it is closer to me.
The beef carpaccio seems to be the dish to avoid. I don't usually eat that, but for people who do.
Thanks for the virtual taste of rabbit that I've been wanting to try. I'm hoping when this place hits its stride, it will remain as exceptional as my first visit.
I really enjoyed that Caffe Mokarabia espresso too. Not sure it is the skill making it or the bean itself. Don't remember seeing that brand before.
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