Blog

Celebrating Two Decades of Mezze Bistro

Mezzechalkboard

Photo credit Amy Mendes

“We are so grateful to be part of our food and hospitality community – farmers, makers, servers, chefs, diners – all the people who have helped us become who we are today.
We extend our many thanks to everyone who worked with us, for us, alongside us in celebration of turning 20 this year!” – Nancy Thomas

MEZZE BISTRO CELEBRATES 20 YEARS

Vintage Menu Items, Guest Chef Dinners, Wine Dinners and Dance Parties Planned

DreamNames

Mezze Bistro History: Old-world Exotic Meets Casual Chic

When Nancy Thomas opened the original 50-seat Mezze Bistro + Bar in a cozy Water Street building in Williamstown in 1996, she worked the stove as chef serving up Moroccan fare with tagines and small mezze plates. Her guests were loyal fans, many from the local dot-com crowd, and the collective youthful energy sparked recurring dance parties on the deck overlooking the Green River.

opening invite (1)

NancyThomas_chef_1996_edit

Nancy Thomas, chef-owner

MENU 1, FIRST DAY 1996

Remember this from 1996?

FIRSTMezzeLocation_Deck photos 2001

DJtodd

Chef Omar Montoya came on board in 1998 and the Mezze menu evolved to reflect his Latin-Peruvian background. During the initial years, Nancy partnered with entrepreneur and internet executive Bo Peabody of Tripod and grew the business to include other restaurants and a catering company.

Omar

Chef Omar Montoya

 

FIRSTMezzeLocation_kitchen_1996

FIRSTMezzeLocation_bar_1996

A fire in 2001 forced the restaurant to relocate and a newly renovated Mezze Bistro opened at the top of Water Street in May 2002, doubling the dining space. The popular bistro and bar with exposed brick walls provided a fresh platform for a modern-day dining experience when Thomas hired Chef James Tracey to craft the menu with his spin on contemporary farm-to-table fare.

SECONDMezzelocation_PhotoCredit_Jennifer_Mardus

Second Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Jennifer Mardus

SECONDMezzelocation_1406.016 copy_Photocredit_Kevin_Kennefick

Second Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Kevin Kennefick

Berk Living press 2007 JTpt. 2

Chef James Tracey in Berkshire Living Magazine

MezzeSignJames_Walke6

Mezze occupied their second home for eight years and welcomed Chef Joji Sumi who brought a Japanese take on seasonal cuisine to Mezze diners. During that time, Thomas opened Café Latino at MASS MoCA (now closed) and Allium in Great Barrington, while building Mezze Catering + Events to produce high-end weddings and galas in the Berkshires and New York City.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Chefs Dan Hardy (L) Joji Sumi (C), Nicholas Moulton (R)

From_Parris_with_Love_FABIANI CHAIR SIGNS

Photo credit From Parris with Love

wedding

Photo credit ReadyLuck

In 2010, Mezze Bistro moved to its present bucolic setting just south of Williamstown next to Sheep Hill, protected by the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation. An eclectic mix of old and new, Nancy designed the restaurant to reflect a sense of its history – 1960s chairs from the old Taconic Restaurant down the road, outdoor furniture from Café Latino, recycled marble tops from Jae’s sushi bar which occupied the space previously, and wood from the Verdura bar where Allium is now located.

CURRENTMezzelocation_Mezze-029-Edit-lg copy_PhotoCredit_Jason_Houston

Current Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Jason Houston

CURRENTMezzelocation_Mezze-064-Edit-lg copy_PhotoCredit_Jason_Houston

Current Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Jason Houston

Current chef Nicholas Moulton, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who worked for four years as Mezze’s sous chef, returned to Mezze Bistro in 2014 and now leads the kitchen team serving up casual-fine food. Producing simple food that is bright and full of life, Moulton is dedicated to the nose-to-tail philosophy and is involved in the harvesting and butchering of ingredients for the restaurant’s menu. As a chef focused on regional cuisine, he places an emphasis on plant-based foods and wild ingredients that grow locally and holds a strong commitment to building awareness of the region’s terroir.

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

Chef Nicholas Moulton — Photo credit Clay Williams

Eat Local

As a farm-to-table advocate with a commitment to supporting the local economy, Nancy believes cooking should be based on the finest seasonal ingredients produced by local farmers. Mezze Restaurant Group purchases more than $250,000 a year from 50 regional farms and food producers and is one of the earliest companies in the Berkshires to source locally grown and produced foods. In the Northern Berkshires, Mezze has been supporting Peace Valley Farm and East Mountain Farm for many years and Mighty Food Farm and Cricket Creek Farm since their inception. Celebrating native foods and artisan foodmakers, Nancy was the inspiration for the Berkshire Grown Holiday Farmers’ Markets, Berkshire Farm & Table’s Summer of Greylock Gin, Carhartts + Cocktails and numerous other local food-focused events in the region.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Cricket Creek at Mezze

Photo credit Amy Mendes

Upcoming Anniversary Tributes and Collaborations

In honor of the occasion, Mezze Bistro will share early menus, vintage invitations and posters, and photos of fans and friends with online Throwback Thursday highlights and themed photo albums on social media channels. In early summer, an in-house pop-up shop will highlight fun takeaway items commemorating 20 years.

maria weingarten menu valentines

Beaujolais Nouveau party 1st mez

Amazing JAZZ 1999

 

 

A series of special events are planned to commemorate Mezze Bistro’s 20th Anniversary. Guest chef and wine tasting dinners, 90s-themed dance parties, and curated arts and fashion events will take place over the next several months. Circa-1996 mixed drinks including the ever-popular Mezze gimlet, martini and cosmopolitan will be featured on the craft cocktail menu.

 

image1

In recognition of the chefs who helped shape the Mezze Bistro kitchen over the last two decades, Nancy will feature favorite dishes highlighting Mezze’s culinary history on the dinner menu in addition to her Moroccan dishes from the late 1990s. Modern-day Mezze Comfort Sunday, a three-course prix fixe menu, and Pasta Wednesday, a hand-crafted affordable menu special, will continue through late spring.

Dance Party & Valentine’s Weekend

On Thursday, February 11, the official anniversary date for Mezze Bistro, Throwback Thursday postings will begin on social media channels. On Friday evening, February 12, a circa 1996 dance party featuring DJ BFG will kick off the celebration which will blend into Valentine’s Day weekend. On February 13 and 14, Mezze will highlight perfect pairings for Valentine’s Day with a large selection of sparkling wines and a la carte specials including Fruits de Mer.

image2

For additional information about Mezze’s 20th Anniversary, please follow Mezze Bistro on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

nancyfarewell

Nancy Thomas — Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Festive Menus for Family-style Fun

 

netaporter-dinner-los-angeles

Just in time for holiday season, we’ve created some fun family-style dining experiences for friends and family to gather without the fuss of cleaning, prepping, cooking, hosting…

Join Mezze Bistro on the guest side of the table. Create your own event in our Private Dining Room for up to 25 guests… We’ll even set the kids’ table! Choose from one of the following family-style menus and enjoy a sit-down meal in our house.

A minimum four-day lead time is needed to coordinate these dinners. Please call 413.458.0123 for more information or to reserve a private dinner. Menus are available through December 29, 2015.


Whole Roast Chicken Dinner

Seasonal Green Salad with Italian Dressing
Lemon & Thyme-scented Chicken Jus served with Potato Purée, Braised Greens and Roasted Carrots
Housemade Parker House Rolls served with Gammelgarden Creamery Butter

Dessert:  Brownie Sundaes

Price per person: $45 (plus tax + gratuity) | Optional wine service available throughout dinner with select bottles of wine offered between $26 and $30 each.


East Mountain Farm Pork Dinner

Bitter Greens Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Whole Roast Pork Shoulder served with Carolina BBQ Sauce, Charred Winter Greens, Berleberg Cheese, Soft-boiled Eggs, Crispy Pig Ears and an Assortment of Mustards and Pickles
Warm Housemade Epi Bread

Dessert:  Soft Warm Pretzels with Maple-Bacon Glaze

Price per person: $45 (plus tax + gratuity) | Optional wine service available throughout dinner with select bottles of wine offered between $26 and $30 each.


Italian Feast

Seasonal Green Salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grana Padano + Chilies
Antipasti Platter and Baked Stuffed Clams
Two Family-style Housemade Pasta Dishes:  one vegetarian option + one featuring locally-raised meats
Garlic Bread

Dessert:  Tiramisu

Price per person: $45 (plus tax + gratuity) | Optional wine service available throughout dinner with select bottles of wine offered between $26 and $30 each.


Taco Night

Housemade Guacamole + Chips
Pork Carnitas or Spice-rub Roasted Carrot Tacos served with stacks of Corn Tortillas, Refried Heirloom Beans, Cotija Cheese, Rice, Seasonal Vegetable Slaw and garnishes of Cilantro, Mint, Scallions and Limes, plus Salsa Verde, Salsa Roja and Hot Sauce

Dessert:  Lime Ice Cream and Sopapilla

Price per person: $45 (plus tax + gratuity) | Optional wine service available throughout dinner with select bottles of wine offered between $26 and $30 each.

2015 Graduation Prixe Fixe Menu

Graduation 2015 Prix Fixe Menu at Mezze Bistro + Bar
Friday + Saturday nights, June 6th and 7th
$65 per person

Thank you for choosing Mezze Bistro to celebrate your special day.
Please find below the prix fixe menu our chef will be preparing for you and your family.
In staying true to the philosophies at Mezze, some menu items are subject to small changes based on availability from our local farms.

We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

* * * * * * *

Appetizer
(Please select one)

Chilled Asparagus Soup
green garlic, truffled popcorn

Spicy Salad Greens
brown rice-miso vinaigrette, mint, sesame

Salad of Spring Vegetables
banyuls vinegar, fine herbs, english pea butter

Pipette Pasta
bagna cauda, radish, grana padano

Hen of the Woods
duck confit, peas, egg yolk, sardo crumbs

______________

Entrée
(Please select one)

Orecchiette
spring vegetables, pesto, crowdie, sunflower

Salmon
swiss chard, rhubarb, cucumber, beet dashi

Roasted Breast of Amish Chicken
maine yellow-eye beans, fava beans, radish, basil broth

Garganelli
braised pork, short rib, italian sausage, kale, spicy tomato sauce, garlic crumbs

Duck Breast
couscous, oyster mushrooms, fava leaves, charred asparagus

Hanger Steak
beef fat potatoes, peace valley farm lettuce, baley hazen blue cheese, bordelaise

Scallops
morels, leeks, peas, tarragon, lemon +15 supplement

______________

Dessert
(Please select one)

Honey Cake
orange purée, almond crumble

Chocolate Pudding
whipped cream

Pavlova
lemon curd, blueberries

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
sweet milk ice cream, caramel corn

logo_mezzeB+B_MRG_111KB

Earth Day Wine Dinner at Mezze Bistro

It’s Spring! After this old-fashioned, classic winter, we’re excited to celebrate!

On Wednesday, April 22 in partnership with Spirited Wines of Lenox, Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown will be hosting an Earth Day Wine Dinner featuring the terroir of Austria and Germany. Chef Nick Moulton will prepare a five-course meal and wine importer Daniel Hubbard will be on premise to discuss the wines. Check out our menu below.

The evening will begin at 6:30 pm and reservations are required. The cost per person, all inclusive, is $75. Please call 413.458.0123 for more info.

earthdaywine_menu_web

Mezze & Allium at the James Beard Foundation

The beginning of spring was glorious in our world. On Monday, March 9, members of our two kitchen teams traveled to the James Beard Foundation in New York to present our first dinner as a sister restaurant collaboration.

Hailing from the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Chefs Nicholas Moulton from Mezze Bistro and Daire Rooney of Allium, along with their respective crews, prepared dishes in complementary cooking styles for the “Berkshires’ First Taste of Spring” dinner.

It was hard work, the team was on point and the experience incredible. We were honored and grateful to be there.

Pictures speak louder than words. What follows is a photo essay of the evening.

All photos courtesy of Clay Williams and the James Beard Foundation.

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com  © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com © Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

 

© Clay Williams / claywilliamsphoto.com

Proprietors and co-founders of Mezze Restaurant Group Nancy Thomas and Bo Peabody

firsttasteofspring_invite2

Team Players Wanted

Summer is just around the corner! We are seeking enthusiastic individuals who celebrate life through good food and welcoming hospitality. In the restaurants and in the field, we work with a stellar team and want to include more stars.

Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown, Mass.
Allium Restaurant + Bar in Great Barrington, Mass.
Mezze Catering + Events, all around the Berkshires and beyond

Details on positions available:

Mezze Catering hiring Cooks
We are a full-service event company working throughout the Berkshire region looking to hire cooks experienced in seasonal farm-to-table cooking from scratch.  Our team loves to cook and we’re seeking like-minded players who are just as passionate about food. Email us with your resume copied in the body of the email along with a short note explaining why you feel you’re perfect for the job.  mezzebistro@mezzeinc.com

Mezze Catering hiring seasonal Servers, Bartenders and Captains
We are a full-service event company working throughout the Berkshire region looking to hire servers, bartenders and captains. If you are interested in joining our team, please contact staff@mezzeinc.com and let us know if you would like to work with our catering team.

Mezze Bistro hiring full-time Line Cook
We cook from scratch in our farm-to-table kitchen and are looking for others who have experience or want to learn how. Email us with your resume copied in the body of the email along with a short note explaining why you feel you’re perfect for the job.  mezzebistro@mezzeinc.com

Mezze Bistro hiring full-time Host
Administrative position working with Open Table, POS system, some computer work. Evening hours. Email us with your resume copied in the body of the email along with a short note explaining why you feel you’re perfect for the job.  mezzebistro@mezzeinc.com

Allium hiring front-of-house staff: Waiters, Bussers, Host
We’re ramping up for summer. Full- and part-time positions available. Email us with your resume copied in the body of the email along with a short note explaining why you feel you’re perfect for the job.  alliumbar@gmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

From_Parris_with_Love_Mezze_FABIANI STAFF 4

Photo Credit From Parris with Love

From_Parris_with_Love_Mezze_FABIANI STAFF  3

Photo Credit From Parris with Love

w_20141101_Mezze-BasilicaHudson_ChristopherDuggan_059

Photo Credit Christopher Duggan

From_Parris_with_Love_FABIANI STAFF

Photo Credit From Parris with Love

JessicaChris-Wed-209

Join Us at the James Beard House on Monday, March 9!

On Monday, March 9, Mezze Restaurant Group will head to the James Beard Foundation in New York City to present a dinner with our talented chefs.

Hailing from the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Mezze Bistro Chef Nicholas Moulton and Allium Chef Daire Rooney will prepare dishes highlighting food produced in the region in complementary cooking styles for the “Berkshires’ First Taste of Spring.”

Please join us in celebration of this great honor!

firsttasteofspring_invite2

Looking Back… Forging Ahead

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

January is that moment when we reflect on the past year and recognize milestones and accomplishments of our awesome team. Following is a recap of a terrific 2014:

 

Mezze-029-Edit-med

Photo credit Jason Houston

HEY NINETEEN!
Finishing up our second decade… Mezze Bistro + Bar turns 19 this February.
In our third location and in our very own home!

 

wedding

Photo credit ReadyLuck Photography

A BIG 4-0
Mezze Catering + Events planned and executed 40 weddings in 2014.
Blushing brides, beautiful settings, delicious food, fabulous flowers and happy guests. 

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

SIXTY
Mezze Restaurant Group employs 60 dedicated and attentive employees year-round.
We *love* our team!

KKalliumentrance6

Photo credit Kevin Kennefick

8 IS GREAT!
Allium turns eight in May. Rockin’ the southern Berkshire universe!

**************************************

GIVING BACK
$10,000 donated to local charities in 2014.

******************************************

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

FORTY-FIVE
That’s how many hard-working farmers and local foodmakers are our partners.

$200,000
What we spend on local food annually.
Fresh, delicious, high-quality food from our neighbors.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

 

 100 PERCENT
Cooking from scratch. At every turn.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Farewell to Chef Joji Sumi

The following blog post is excerpted from our weekly newsletter,
published on October 6, 2013.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

Farewell to Chef Joji

Mezze Bistro + Bar has been at a few different locations over the years, with a handful of chefs during its progression to a restaurant focused on seasonal, regional cuisine. For the past six years, Chef Joji Sumi has been at the helm running the kitchen and directing the food. On October 15, Joji will leave us and head west, first to Michigan to visit with family and then on to exciting adventures in San Francisco.

Photo credit Angela Cardinali

 

Joji was, from the beginning, a supporter of the Mezze philosophy using local ingredients in season. He worked with a small group of farmers, developing strong relationships and helping farms succeed. He began our program of purchasing whole animals and butchering them in house, with complete dedication to the nose-to-tail cooking philosophy that keeps our kitchen sustainable and our menus delicious. While Joji has the same passion for food common to more notorious chefs, he has never shared their love for the spotlight. We think it’s time to recognize his hard work that helped us arrive at an excellent place.

Farewell Chef Joji. We will miss your dedication to our farmers, your commitment to excellence and the consistently amazing food you have put on our plates over the last six years. We wish you well on your next adventure, hopefully after a long break.

We hope to see you soon at Mezze Bistro to join us in this moment as we send off one of our favorite chefs. Come visit in the next week to wish Joji* well and send him thanks for feeding us deliciously for so many years!

nancyfarewell

A Smooth Transition

Change is part of history. As a restaurant that has been around for more than 15 years, we are always growing and gearing up for the next experience. We welcome new farmers joining the ranks of our seasoned ones to offer us a wider selection of produce, pasture-raised animals and artisan-crafted foods. Menu selections are as important to us as the sourcing of our ingredients and we are fortunate to be evolving during a food revolution of great chefs who truly care about their craft and a following of diners who appreciate the philosophy and all of this hard work. Alongside this progression, we too, are evolving and embracing the next step.

We are excited to announce the arrival of Chef Pedro Rangel who has been working in the kitchen with Joji for a smooth transition. More about Chef Pedro coming soon!

JojiPedro

 

* Although we have previously honored Joji’s request to not publish photos of him for the last six years, this occasion warrants the consequences.

All photos courtesy of Angela Cardinali (who is risking her own hide by publishing these images.)

Laughing in Detail at Solid Sound at MASS MoCA

Amazing. Pure and simple.

The music and festivities at the Solid Sound Festival this past weekend were enough to bliss out thousands. We could feel the energy through the walls and windows while the catering team prepped for Laughing in Detail I, a local food tasting at 5 pm. I had the privilege of hanging around and taking pictures of all things kitchen. My most favorite room in the house.

Both events about to take place were curated and orchestrated by Nancy Thomas, the woman who began Mezze when it was a small bistro on Water Street in Williamstown more than 17 years ago and now the fearless leader of Mezze Restaurant Group. Nancy worked for many months designing the MASS MoCA events — the look and feel of the rooms, the farms represented, the awesome chef team and the all-local menus. Nancy has been a huge local food advocate for this region and was the ultimate ambassador for the role.

Chef Daire Rooney from Allium and Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn, perfect partners in this catering crime, cooked for a few long days and nights preceding the Wilco event at MASS MoCA. Daire and Brian catered two delicious events during the festival on Saturday. One was a really cool, all-local tasting menu at 5 p.m. in Jeff Tweedy’s Loft installation, a re-creation of Wilco’s Chicago music studio.

TheLoftSign_IMG_5257

Guests who signed up for this event had the pleasure of coming inside to cool off for two hours while dining on fresh strawberries and cream from The Berry Patch and High Lawn Farm. Allium turned up the heat with their delicious Steamed Buns made with East Mountain Farm Pork Belly and Daire’s famous kale salad with greens from The Berry Patch. Chef Brian of The Red Lion Inn cooked up Braised Lila’s Mountain Lamb with Berry Patch Kale and Smoked Farm Girl Farm Tomato Purée served over Risotto.

Pot with view_IMG_5053 CandleabraWindow_IMG_5139 Crowd_IMG_5170
SteamingBuns_IMG_5049 PorkBelly_IMG_5048 BunsPrep_IMG_5115
DaireKaleToss_IMG_5071 BunsKalePlatters_IMG_5108 LambStew_IMG_5103

 

Rave reviews all around. After cleanup, the team moved through large cavernous mill spaces with giant windows overlooking Solid Sound to yet another prep area for Laughing in Detail II, a 165-person sold-out dinner scheduled to take place when the clock struck midnight.

MillSpaces

After a short break and some kitchen set up, prep began for the candlelit supper under Xu Bing’s jaw-dropping Phoenix sculpture. While things were heating up in the kitchen, front-of-house staff staged the awesome red-draped ‘single table’ under the installation.

Lamb_IMG_5355  Frittata_IMG_5346  Focaccia_IMG_5345
 Strawberries_IMG_5283 Supper_pretable_IMG_5240 -1

 

Hours later, the dinner was ready to, dare I say, rise from the ashes.

TableCandlesPhoenix_IMG_5304

It was quite a highlight for Solid Sound guests to dine under these amazing 12-ton birds suspended mid-air.

PhoenixUpper_IMG_5315

Members of Wilco stopped in to greet the excited guests pre-dinner and joined the table. After a brief introduction from MASS MoCA director Joe Thompson, a well-dressed service team from Mezze Catering + Events carried out the many platters for a family-style meal in a beautifully choreographed procession orchestrated by Nancy Thomas. Guests enjoyed the gorgeous food, sourced from more than 20 local farms and food producers in the Berkshires and Hudson Valley.

What a treat to sit down to this amazing meal after a whole day of great music and well-curated festivities. Given the internally illuminated Phoenix, Wilco and their fantastic vision for Solid Sound, MASS MoCA’s dedicated staff and volunteers, the glorious food from our farmers, the talented chefs, the hard-working catering staff… it was a once-in-a-lifetime event and we’re so glad to have been a part of it. Our team, including one very psyched behind-the-scenes photographer, cannot wait to do it again!

MASSMoCA_WILCOmenu

All photos courtesy of Angela Cardinali