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Celebrating Two Decades of Mezze Bistro

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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

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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.

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Nancy Thomas, chef-owner

MENU 1, FIRST DAY 1996

Remember this from 1996?

FIRSTMezzeLocation_Deck photos 2001

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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.

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Chef Omar Montoya

 

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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.

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Second Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Jennifer Mardus

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Second Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Kevin Kennefick

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Chef James Tracey in Berkshire Living Magazine

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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)

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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.

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Current Mezze Bistro location — Photo credit Jason Houston

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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Nancy Thomas — Photo credit Angela Cardinali

4 Comments

  1. Posted February 11, 2016 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Ah, yes. Wonderful memories. Congratulations on your creation Nancy. Cheers to another 20 years.

  2. Deborah Fehr
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    The photos from the ’90s make me feel so young!

  3. susan austin
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Hopoing against hope that you will bring back a particular short rib entree, I think braised in stout. My husband gave me a bite of this one wintry February night when you were at the second Water Street Site. Rich, complex, we have never forgotten it.

  4. Wendy
    Posted February 12, 2016 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Happy 20th, Mezze!! My husband and I have dinner there *every* time we’re in the Williamstown area–we make a point to include it in our trip–and we recommend it regularly to anyone we know who’ll be out there, too. I had a Mezze Gimlet on our first visit over a decade ago and I loved it so much he started recreating them for me at home–and it’s still such a treat when he does. If I get one for Valentine’s I’ll be sure to make a toast to Mezze in celebration. :)
    – Wendy & Tom, Salem, Mass