“There are times we think, are we making this too hard on ourselves? Then you taste the food and you pretty much know the answer.”
Sara Watson’s role at Mezzaluna in Fargo includes counting the beans. But she takes the most pride in making sure vegetables and other presentations enhance the dining experience at the downtown Fargo restaurant.
“You have to make sure you compare the textures," said Watson, who runs Mezzaluna with her husband, Eric. Does that vegetable complement the dull beige of the potatoes?
What garnish can pull this all together?
A less enthusiastic foodie could look down at the finished product say simply, “Yum. Steak.” But for Watson, this is another finished piece to add to her gallery, or rather, her hungry customers’ table.
“You have to think about your plate like it’s a canvas” Watson says.
Watson’s work speaks for itself. The drizzle of colorful vinaigrettes and sauces over a hearty entree on a glossy white plate really does look like a painting on a canvas. You almost feel guilty biting into it. Almost.
“I just love the presentation of food,” Watson says.
Watson pursued an art degree in college, but she always had a restaurant job on the side, cooking food or waiting tables. She joked that it didn’t take long for her to realize that food was much more interesting than writing grant proposals. Then she fell in love with a chef, Eric Watson.
Jump ahead a few years, a few moves and a few kids later. Sara and Eric now run Mezzaluna in Fargo. Eric is in the kitchen and Sara juggles the books and dabbles with the meals. They pride themselves on being a fine dining destination that can build intricate, savory dishes without leaving behind the simple classics - $7 burgers - for their more traditional customers.
Just like they preserved the historical quality of their 1917 building, Watson says Mezzaluna keeps making food exactly the way it was meant to be prepared: unprocessed and fresh. She laughs as she talks about her experiences breaking it to new chefs that they won’t be getting any pre-sliced onions here. One tear at a time, they would have to slice their own.
“There are times we think, are we making this too hard on ourselves? Then you see the customers and taste the food and you know the answer,” Watson says.
Mezzaluna opened in 2012, almost 100 years after the building was originally built. During its years in Fargo, the restaurant has embraced the feeling of the city - classic but with a unique way of surprising you. Watson says she loves seeing what happens when someone tries a new mix of flavors on one of their picturesque plates.
“We get a lot of business people that come from all over the world and they are always surprised that something like this is in North Dakota,” Watson says. “People are generally surprised with Fargo overall and how it can be cool and different. But we still want to make sure we can fit everyone’s pallet,” Watson says.
Watson's obvious choice for the best dining in North Dakota is Mezzaluna. She also recommends: