By Andrea Stuart | Photos by Manny Espinoza
If you enjoy the vibrant culinary scene on the Monterey Peninsula, you have probably happened upon one of local restaurateur Soerke Peters’ restaurants. Perhaps best known for his green thinking in the kitchen, Peters has perfected the art of simplicity with the opening of his newest— and the first Certified Green restaurant in Pacific Grove—Mezzaluna Pasteria & Mozzarella Bar.
Formerly a longtime French restaurant, Mezzaluna Pasteria was reinvented in April of 2019 as a pasta palace. Peters and his business partner and girlfriend, Amy Stouffer, who also serves as the restaurant’s general manager and curator of its wine program—which exclusively focuses on Italian and local wines—conceived the pasteria knowing the risk involved with creating a brand on a single food genre. In a world where variety is often heralded as the secret to success, Peters is proving that being a master of one is viable. “It’s the perfect excuse to eat carbs,” he says with a chuckle.
While the restaurant might be bound by its focus, its menu shines without restraint. In typical Peters fashion, most ingredients are organic and locally sourced, and dishes are made from scratch in the kitchen. There are over 20 types of fresh pasta, each made daily from organic flour and free-range chicken eggs—the secret to fresh pasta’s tender bite and rich flavors.
From agnolotti di capra (braised goat with ricotta cheese, braising jus, and parmesan), ravioli di manzo (braised beef short ribs with pearl onions, parmesan, and fresh horseradish), chicken sausage lasagna, and mastro ravioli di granchio (Dungeness crab spinach ravioli with butter sauce and yams), to vegan house-made pastas and Bolognese and gluten-free pastas, menu items are versatile as to satisfy a broad array of palates.
On weekends, patrons can look forward to an expanded menu with unique bar offerings. The restaurant’s extensive amaro menu provides a canvas for creativity, and the Italian theme invites delectable Sunday morning treats, including sgroppino made with Meyer lemons and blood oranges. Brunch is also when diners will find offerings such as lobster macaroni and cheese; Italian toast with tomato jam, prosciutto, poached eggs, and avocado hollandaise sauce; pork belly hash glazed with amaro Averna; pork belly sous vide; house-made tater tot waffles with mustard and smoked salmon; buckwheat waffles with fresh berries and whipped cream; and savory French toast with wild mushrooms and poached eggs, arugula, and shaved cheese. And, of course, more pasta.
Peters is so passionate about pasta that Mezzaluna Pasteria will be offering a retail element for those who would like a restaurant experience at home. Patrons will be able to preorder menu items that are packaged for assembly at home. All they’ll need is a pot for water and another for sauce. “I think of it as a romantic dinner to go. You can order the same dish as at the restaurant, but at a lower price. And you don’t have to pay tips and tax,” says Peters. “Because we have a retail license, we sell our wines, and at less than you can find them in the stores.” It’s the ultimate Netflix and binge date waiting to happen.