Mezza Luna Ristorante - Dining Review
“So… How old are you now?” I asked the hubby, as we sat down to dinner.
We had just been seated at our lovely outdoor table at Mezza Luna Ristorante - for a special Saturday night - a birthday celebration - dinner out.
“29,” he says.
“No, really?” I question him.
“35,” he then says.
“No... I seriously don’t know,” I say. Now resorting to begging for his age. “I literally do not remember your age, and I only remember that I am 40 because I am, right now, at this moment, the big four o.”
“35,” he says, again. “And I’m not getting any older.” That’s it. It’s been authoritatively decided. Discussion over.
Well - I simply knew that wasn’t true. But we proceeded to dine upon some fabulous food, all the time with me not knowing the real number. The age for which we were celebrating this fine night.
Because, you see, I don’t really know if it's a “covid thing” or what, but time is just flying by.
One breath, and a day has passed.
One blink, and a whole week flutters past us.
One sip of water, and a whole month is swallowed up whole.
In fact, by the time we finish eating this very meal, we will be 65 years old.
And the pandemic itself - well that flew by too. I tend to think it’s all because I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, and not because of a global plague that seemingly altered time itself. But, who knows?
Either way, I can barely remember my own age, let alone the age and/or birthdates of anybody else I know and love, including my own husband - and maybe that is not a covid thing? I think I’m just really, really bad at ages... and birthdays... and numbers.
I guess I always have been. But the older I get, it apparently shows more now… As I sit across from the hubby, proceeding to ask my own husband for his age on his own birthday during this very special night out.
Our server comes over. We start with water for both.
Gulp, and another month disappears. Hooray!
I then ask for lemonade, and Bryan requests an old fashioned.
By the time our meal was perfectly prepared, cooked, seasoned, and served to us, we were flying well into the year 2022. But that all hasn’t happened just yet.
Eventually, we settled on 43 (???) Our take on his real age this evening. On this beautiful day in the month of May, in this grand and fabulous year of life on Earth: 2021.
“Are you sure?” I ask. Doubting even the truth, simply because I have no idea or grasp on reality any longer… Ages and time blown apart. The Earth, to me, might as well be spinning around the sun at a rate of 365 rotations an hour instead of 365 rotations a year. No concept of time any longer, not even a smidge, even left in my brain at this point in my life. And that, I finally have come to believe, has something to do with Covid.
And maybe that’s all simply because, when people are asked to stop living their lives - living - becomes increasingly more important. In my head, that is.
It’s a beautiful evening at the beach. We are seated on the outdoor patio of Mezza. Located at 110 First Street in the Beaches Town Center area of Neptune Beach, this local Floridian establishment has always seemed upscale and expensive in my mind, and seemingly a bit out of reach for an everyday occasion. But for birthdays, anything goes, right? So, while I expected quite an expensive dining experience, Mezza Luna ended up being nothing like what I thought and perceived it to be - In a good way. It wasn’t nearly as pricey as I was predicting, and it was a much more casual atmosphere as well - also, in a very good way.
With today’s hits playing loudly on the stereo speakers, intermixed with some oldies and goodies, the vibe was upbeat, happy, and not at all stuffy or too fancy. Our entire dining experience ended up being an absolutely and utterly perfect atmosphere for the type of dinner we were going for that evening.
It’s now May. So at dinnertime - the sun - it’s still out. And, gosh, it was a hot one. There were seats on the back patio - straight in the sun - and I knew we could never last out there. Not even five minutes. I would have easily melted away. I had just finished a shift working outside in the heat all day, and sitting straight in the hot sun was never, ever going to happen that night.
But the whole front end of the restaurant has another outdoor area that is completely covered in shade. It’s actually set up really, very quaint. You’re “inside” the restaurant, with the feel and coziness of being inside and away from the elements, but the front wall is open to the outdoors and fresh air. So we were technically seated outside - per my request placed on my OpenTable dining reservation app. Also, the mask mandate in the local Jacksonville area had just been recently lifted, so for those looking to enter without a mask, no mask was needed. Every single staff member of the restaurant still had masks on though.
If you don’t have OpenTable, and you enjoy dining out, I highly recommend it. The process of booking takes a mere few seconds, it’s free, and it’s easier than a phone call. Plus - all your reservations add up to monetary rewards. I’m a big fan.
Our drinks arrived, and ice cold lemonade never tasted so good. I downed my drink, and another was brought immediately over to me.
We then ordered the meatball appetizer to split, and Bryan ordered a wedge blue cheese salad as well.
The meatballs were seasoned wonderfully, with a creamy sauce of something or other underneath. I didn’t really bother to look at the menu, I really just devoured it as quickly as I did my lemonade; noting later - however, that it was served with creamy polenta, tomato, mint, and piave cheese at $11.00.
And Bryan’s iceberg salad was served with crispy shallots, bacon, sun dried tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing, at $9.00.
Our server asked if we wanted fresh bread, and of course, because we are merely human, we said - Yes.
Dinner was fabulous. And I couldn't remember the last time I had such a marvelous meal, seated that close to the ocean, and so close to home.
We both ordered steaks for the main course. I had the filet (at $35.00), my usual go to, and Bryan had the grilled flat iron steak frites (at $27.00), any steak - his guaranteed usual.
The bordelaise sauce drizzled over my filet was superb. And I immediately commented to Bryan… “How come we can’t replicate this at home?” I kept eating and I don’t remember what we decided our answer to that deep question was.
Being that it was Bryan’s birthday, dessert was a must. So, we ordered two, of course. And that way we could each try each other’s and share.
I loved the affogato. To death. I would go back to Mezza just to order it once again. At $6.00 it was worth every penny, and a cool treat on this hot night.
And, then there was the cheesecake. Oh, is there anything so good in all this miraculous world as a slice of cheesecake?
Well, maybe the next best thing is taking the leftovers home. At $8.00, and heaven on Earth, I asked for the seasonal sauce to be left off. I just wanted the slice served plain. And as we were too stuffed to eat anymore, I asked for my remaining cheesecake to be boxed up. To be feasted upon later that evening back home of course…. And therein lies the only ‘problem’ of the magnificent evening. And I dare say it was really even a problem. I actually just asked for a box…
Meaning, I would box up the cheesecake myself. But, the server wanted to bring the dish back to the kitchen and box it up. And that’s when I realized he did the same with my steak.
This was the very first time since covid began, that a server wanted to take my meal away from me, that I had already touched, and bring it back into the kitchen. That act seemed to go away, nearly one hundred percent of the time, since the beginning of the pandemic.
As soon as the plague began, everything and anything was all about contact. Touch points were focused upon. And the less touching the better. Along with cross contamination, and risk of cross contamination. So, I naturally thought it was swell when seemingly every single restaurant started bringing the box out to the table, instead of taking the touched plate back into the kitchen to box up there, thus risking more germ spread back onto everyone’s food unnecessarily.
So, I did think it very, very strange that the server wanted to take my slice of cheesecake, that I had already feasted upon, and bring it back into the kitchen to box up. I didn’t say anything, but I did ponder this, deeply.
And as I pondered, my cheesecake was making its untimely transition.
When my lovely piece of food was brought back out to me... it looked like this:
A fine meal. A lovely evening. Everything - perfection. Down to the sights and sounds.
And then - sad face. :(
Or, should I say smoosh face.
My cheesecake went through the ringer back in the kitchen. My cheesecake died a slow death. It transformed from a slice of cake... To cheese mush inside a plastic see through box. Sealed for transport into space. Or somewhere else very far away.
But who am I kidding?! I did not really care one bit. As we learned growing up, it’s not what’s on the outside that matters, it’s what’s inside that really important.
It’s not the gift that matters, it's the thought that counts.
Never judge a book by its cover.
Contents may have shifted during transport.
Wait - none of that is what I was going for here.
Anyway, I could care freaking less what my cheesecake looked like as I carried it out the door. And yes, it got eaten less than two hours later in less than two seconds flat. Presentation be forgotten that night, my dear friends. No, I did not care what it looked like on the outside. I didn’t care. It all certainly did not really matter to me.
Because, if I’m so busy loving my life, so very freaking much, to the point that I cannot remember how old I am, or how old my husband really is, because life is too much fun to stop and think about it. Then I certainly could care less about the doggie bag presentation at a fine dining establishment with today’s hits blasting on the radio overhead as we freely inhaled the salt life.
All I cared about was the birthday that was being celebrated. And the fun time we were having. And the very fresh and very salty air that we were breathing in on that beautiful patio. As we watched tourists and locals pass by on the adjacent sidewalk. And we ate our fresh bread, and slapped on way too much butter.
And scooping up whatever that creamy mush was underneath our meatball appetizer, while enjoying a steak that I could never replicate in my own kitchen. And bringing home with me a cheesy slice of heaven. It all didn’t matter what it looked like. And how it was presented to me. And as I pondered the state of my flattened and battered and weathered and worn and completely beat up cheesecake seated in front of me, sealed tightly for transport across great oceans on a big container ship for a long haul journey… I decided to ask my husband, once again.
I stared at my smooshed cake. And I pondered the physics of time and space once again. “44?” I questioned him.
Desperately aching to know and confirm his real age, yet again. And too lazy to pull out my calculator to simply subtract 2021 from his year of birth, to find the correct number in a matter of seconds.
“NO!” he desperately bellowed back at me. “I am NOT 44 today.”
So we settled, once again, on 43.
He was 43 years old. And yes, I am 40.
We had that confirmed. Leaving no room for doubt.
And so we continued our evening. And we both knew each other’s real ages. At least for that one night. Until I proceeded to forget it all once again. When the day transitioned from Saturday to Sunday and I didn’t even know what universe I was living in, once again.
So, yeah, we knew we were in our forties. We knew we loved our steak dinner. And we certainly knew covid was in the rear view mirror. And life kept moving on. But, the funny thing is, life never really stopped. That’s the amazing thing. Covid never stopped our lives. As we celebrated the transition from 42 to 43… life was still happening. And life would continue to go on. Whether we knew our ages at the time or not. Under a mezza luna moon… life was continuing to happen all around us.~
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