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Mezzanotte Review in Charlotte: A Homemade Italian Eatery

Updated: Jul 1

This month’s review is of a restaurant that is new to us yet feels like a place that we’ve been patronizing for years. The reason is that Mezzanotte is the creation of Charlotte restaurateur Augusto Conte. Originally from Ischia, an Italian island off the coast of Naples, he came to Charlotte in 1995. Starting with Conte’s, which was located on Selwyn Avenue, where soon-to-be-closing Nolen Kitchen is located, Augusto has started a host of successful Italian restaurants – each uniquely different. His current restaurants include Toscana, which has been in business for 20 years, to Luce (Uptown), Malabar, and the newest creation, Via Roma, which opens this month in Waverly. The name for this new restaurant comes from the street on which Augusto grew up.

Mezzanotte is located at the corner of Providence Rd Sharon Amity just west of the Cotswold area in the building with Poppy's Bagel & Flywheel. One of the first things that Beth noticed was that it had the feel of a neighborhood restaurant. Beth grew up in a small Indiana town which had a large Italian immigrant community. Mezzanotte reminded her of the small Italian restaurants in her town where the customers all knew each other. In Mezzanotte, it was obvious that many people knew each other and that the restaurant staff knew them as well. We also saw people whom we knew including parents of a childhood friend whom I probably had not seen in 20 years. It brought that sense of warmth into the place that some of the "big name" restaurants in Charlotte simply cannot replicate.

The dining space of the restaurant is divided into two distinct areas. The front section is comprised of booths and a few tables. It's a fairly small area which gives it a more intimate feel. The back section is dominated by a nice bar which also includes the brick pizza oven. There are several tables in that area also. It's a little noisier in that section, so we requested a booth in the front.

It was clear from our research about the restaurant that they have become known for their Neapolitan-style pizza. And, in observing the number of customers eating or picking up pizza to go, it was clear that their pies must be pretty good. As parents of three teenagers, we have eaten lots of pizza - both good and bad. So, we were intrigued and tempted to order a pie. But since this was a date night with no kids, we opted for some more traditional Italian fare with the idea of bringing the kids to give us their expert opinions on how the pie is. Maybe we will report on that at a later date.

After starting with salads, Beth went with the recommendation our server, Antonio, for the Salmonella Siciliana. It was a nice filet of fresh salmon cooked with olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, and just the right amount of garlic. Broccoli and, interestingly, jasmine rice, accompanied the dish. We both commented that we had never had jasmine rice at an Italian restaurant. We were both curious for the chef's thought behind that pairing but we forgot to ask before leaving. Regardless, Beth loved the dish and determined that she would have a hard time ordering anything other than that dish on our next visit there.

I chose the fish special which a sauteed sea bass with a side of spaghetti and marinara sauce. One of my favorite memories of our trip to Italy years ago was some of the great fish that I ate - each time with a side of pasta. This sea bass was good but not great. However, I loved the marinara with its hint of cream infused with the traditional tomato-based sauce. But Beth clearly out-ordered me this time. The menu has a wide variety of pasta, chicken, veal, and seafood dishes. Next time, I will likely try a pasta or veal dish. And we are definitely coming back with the kids for some of that Neopolitan-style pizza, and the warm, excellent service for which all of Augusto Conte’s restaurants are known.



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