“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.