What’s the secret to becoming one of Windsor’s most award-winning, popular restaurants?
For Mezzo Ristorante and Lounge, it’s simple: make good food and do good things.
“Our goal is to bring Windsor-Essex a fantastic dining experience and help out our community as much as we can,” says owner Filip Rocca.
Now in their 21st year of business, Mezzo has made a name for themselves as Erie Street’s not-to-be-missed hot spot; with an eclectic, contemporary atmosphere, extensive wine list, and innovative Italian cuisine.
“We started it from scratch back in August 2002 and well, now we’re here,” laughs Rocca.
Since then, the restaurant has been consecutively ranked as one of the top spots in the city, most recently named Windsor’s Top Choice Italian Restaurant for the past four years including 2023, an accolade Rocca and his business partner Darcy King are extremely proud of.
It is truly a great honour for our team,” says Rocca. “Top Choice is a prestigious award that recognizes the dedication of our staff and the superior experience we strive to provide.”
Of course, it’s also Mezzo’s mouth-watering food that keeps both locals and out-of-towners coming back, with a diverse menu featuring a mix of classic Italian fare and unique creations prepared by Head Chef Pat Lizzi and his team.
Favourites include the homemade pasta, specifically the ravioli; stuffed with roasted butternut squash and mutsu apple in a ginger, bacon, sundried tomato cream sauce. Other must-try items include the sesame encrusted ahi tuna topped with mango chutney, and the pan-seared ‘AAA’ beef tenderloin.
“The ravioli and the tuna are our most popular menu items, but there are so many great choices,” says Rocca. There are also delicious vegetarian and vegan options, as well as gluten-free items, he adds.
For those with a sweet tooth, they feature a selection of desserts like house made tiramisu and crème brûlée, as well as speciality dessert coffees and martinis.
Mezzo has also become a popular lunchtime destination, notes Rocca, with a variety of affordable soup, sandwich, and salad choices, as well as appetizers and pastas, meat, and fish.
“We see a lot of lunchtime business meetings or people meeting up with friends,” he says, sharing that they regularly host special events, meetings, and parties in their private dining area which seats up to 40 people.
Since their inception, Mezzo has also opened their doors to many community events and charities as well; supporting a number of local initiatives, including Project Christmas. Their most notable event is their annual Christmas lunch. Each year, the restaurant opens on Christmas Day to welcome people in for a delicious free meal; whether they’re homeless, elderly, down on their luck, or lonely.
“It’s great to be able to give back to our community. We’ve been doing it since the beginning,” says Rocca. “We also get donations for hats, mitts, and gifts for kids as well so everyone can leave here with something from us.”
This year, Rocca says Mezzo is looking forward to bringing back some of their other popular events, which they had to pause during the pandemic.
“We plan on bringing a lot more of our events back in 2023,” he says. “We used to do a monthly supper club night with a set menu tied to a charity and that will be returning for sure. It’s like a monthly little party.”
They also host live musical entertainment each week, and offer unique fixed menu dinners for special occasions including Valentine’s Day.
“We’ve put together something great for Valentine’s Day this year that we think people will really enjoy,” says Rocca.
Details about the latest events and entertainment can be found on the restaurant’s socials.
As for what else this year holds, Rocca says the team is looking forward to doing what they do best; continuing to serve extraordinary food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.
“We love our city and being a part of Via Italia,” says Rocca. “We love our Michigan customers who support us as well. We truly enjoy what we do and hopefully we’ll be doing this for another 20 years.”