Food to go in Cagli

Fresh Food from La Mezzaluna

Fresh Food from La Mezzaluna

by Jennifer Brookes

In a time when many residents of Cagli, Italy, look outside the city for employment, Michele Marinelli, a 24 year old entrepreneur, found opportunity inside the city’s ancient walls.  He purchased La Mezzaluna, a modest café, in the beginning of 2009. Proving great things come in small packages; inside holds culinary delights waiting to be consumed.

Michele discovered this tiny treasure while looking for a restaurant to call his own. He now commutes to work from two towns away. Despite living outside of Cagli, he understands the needs of Cagliese families, and welcomes them with his contagious smile.

Artistically displayed fruit cobblers topped with glazed ripe berries snuggle with colorful breads containing raisins, fruit or chocolate chips.  Displayed on the shelf below, various types of fresh pizza compete with these delectable delights.  A sign written in Italian above the counter says in translation: “All food in this business is produced each day and should be consumed preferably on the same day.”

Unlike most cafes in the area, La Mezzaluna offers pre-made food to take home and eat. On the right side of the dreamy dolci (desert) dishes and fresh-made pizzas sits hand-made pasta (which cooks in about four minutes), roasted vegetables, potatoes, chicken, and sausages, along with other lunch and dinner items.

Not in the mood for what’s displayed? No problem. Michele runs his establishment to meet his customers’ needs. With one little request , Michele transforms a meat-based dinner into a vegetarian delight.

Michele admits more people eat in the establishment as opposed to taking food to go. However he offers options, “because some customers may not want to sit here and eat”. He’s right and so his restaurant allows Cagliese families a chance to eat fresh, delicious  food in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare at home.

Family is obviously very important to Michele. His mother, Mariella Polenta, works at the cafe with him, helping to prepare meals and serve customers.  His father frequents the establishment daily to share a meal and catch up on the day’s events.

Michele’s passion has always been food. One neighbor reminisces how Michele began cooking when he was very small. She points to a picture on the wall of six-year old Michele wearing a chef’s hat while devouring a large plate of spaghetti.

A budding chef

In addition to the variety of dining options, Michele keeps flexible business hours. On the door, a sign shows “closed” from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. for pausa (an Italian rest time); however, a knock from a hungry customer trumps advertised hours.  If present, he opens shop and creates a memorable dining experience.

Michele’s passion for food, his honest concern over his customer’s enjoyment and the care he takes in providing the freshest ingredients transforms a simple meal into a lifetime memory.


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