Mezza Luna Pizzeria | Eugene & Springfield, OR

Downtown Eugene: 541-684-8900 | Crescent Village: 541-743-2999 | Springfield: 541-653-8661

Pizzeria Just Superb, No Matter How You Slice It

By Nonie Fish
for The Register-Guard



John Fitzgerald throws a pizza crust under the watchful
eye of Mezza Luna Pizzeria co-owner Sandy Little.

     My grandmother once told me the man in the moon is made of cheese. But I say maybe only half, because for sure the other half is made of tomatoes. I am certain of one thing: Mezza Luna (half of a moon) Pizzeria makes both halves of a pizza deliciose. The sign outside Mezza Luna is a whole pizza pie, half tomatoey with a tempting slice, while the other half is a pizza Bianca, or white pizza. I love this type of pizza popular in the American Northeast - only cheese, rosemary and maybe some garlic and olive oil. Our group almost needed a pizza facilitator while deciding what type of pie to order, but we noticed it was possible to order half-and-half pies. This took away some of the pressure.

     Of course, the bickering started again while deciding on what the halves would be. The antipasto platter (a little of this and little of that) was a perfect distraction during negotiations. The great menu seemed to have something for everyone. The most important part of a pizza is the crust. Great crusts are created in a pizza oven that, hopefully, has a heated ceramic stone or a wood-oven-heated hearth. How did Mezza Luna's crust hold up? It was evenly thin and sealed on the bottom by the intense heat of the stone. Yes, it was fantastic - chewy and crispy.

     We really didn't need anything else to eat besides pizza, but since the antipasto had been ordered, we plunged in. (It's important to ask that pizzas be held back until the antipasto or salads are first eaten; that way, they can be put into the oven to be baked. Nothing should come between a crisp crust and one's lips.) The antipasto platter was enough for five hearty eaters. It included flavorful, fresh slices of soft mozzarella and tomatoes, seasoned with basil and a light balsamic vinaigrette (just great); a generous supply of Kalamata olives; roasted red and yellow bell pepper slices; and artichoke pesto (or vegan pesto) to spread on the warm toasted crostini. All were delish except the tasteless, canned artichoke hearts.

     I never expect too much from a restaurant salad. Mezza Luna's Caesar - with its fresh, crunchy slices of romaine hearts - came with just enough dressing (not drowning in it) and without an overbearing, fishy taste of anchovy. A double thumbs-up around the table. The Fruit and Nut Salad was made with delicate butter lettuce, dried cranberries, candied pecans and soft, sweet, perfect-textured Gorgonzola. Both salads arrived on iced plates (imagine that!) and were wonderful. The salads were made by someone who knows their way inside a refrigerator! It is not often we are treated to an iced plate, let alone amazingly fresh lettuce without brown spots.

     We ordered two large pizzas, each one was a half-and-half. Slices were gargantuan. The first pie was vegetarian. Half was "Marge" (who I'm sure is related to a Margarita in Naples), a blend of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses topped with thinly sliced tomatoes (hooray!). There was nothing to get that magnificent crust soggy. The other half was a Fun-Guy Trio - three types of sliced fresh mushrooms, red and yellow pepper strips, chevre (goat) cheese, mozzarella, tomato sauce and roasted garlic. I can't tell you which I liked better; both were great. The second pizza was made with Italian meats. The prima half, The Boot, was topped with the house sausage, its flavor not overpowering but carefully seasoned. The same great, sweet-tasting Gorgonzola cheese, red and yellow peppers, onions (not raw or too strong), roasted garlic, mozzarella and the sensible scant use of tomato sauce. I loved the melding of flavors and relished each bite. The other half, Nice Spice packed a punch that turned pirouettes on my tongue.

     We had great beer from a carefully constructed tap and bottle menu. Its wine list and other beverages showed thoughtful selection. It was a delightful visit to this new Eugene pizzeria.

     The two owners, John Fitzgerald and Sandy Little, certainly show they are exacting in their craft and take their pizza inspirations seriously. Both hail from the New Jersey area, where a large Italian-American population eats lots of pizza. So it's no surprise they make pies that are a step above the average.

June 24, 2005



Nonie Fish is a free-lance food writer from Eugene. Her twice-monthly Dining Out reviews are based on one, and sometimes two,
unannounced, anonymous visits to local restaurants.

Mezza Luna: This Guy "Nose" Pizza

By Rick Dancer
for Eugene Review


 

John Fitzgerald and the Crescent Village location.

     John Fitzgerald says he can walk into any pizzeria and know by the smell if something’s not right with the pizza. Fitzgerald and business partner Sandy Little own Mezza Luna Pizza in Eugene. They opened the downtown Mezza Luna in January of 05’.

     John is a New Jersey kid who grew up on real, authentic New York City Pizza and it shows. I’m a big lover of pizza and am embarrassed to admit I’d never tried Mezza Luna until a few weeks ago.

     I think it’s one of the best pies I’ve ever had. The crust is wonderful. John says he’s tossed close to 600,000 pizzas in his day and his recipe is the same one he’s used for decades. Mezza Luna’s ingredients are all fresh and every bite proves it. The sausage recipe is also John’s.

     Both John and Sandy are a little obsessed with pizza and I think that’s a good thing. John says “The soul is being taken out of pizza by machinery.” But these guys won’t let that happen at Mezza Luna. They hand toss the dough and still use the stone oven to cook each pizza. Don’t even mention modern ways to these guys. Both have been making pizzas for too long to skimp on anything.

     We visited the new location out at Crescent Village. The feel inside is urban, relaxed, and perfect for friends, family or a date. There’s a small bar where you can find several local beers on tap. There’s also outside seating on the streets of Crescent Village, which is a real nice place to hang out in the evening.

John and Sandy both still make pizzas. John showed me the calluses on his knuckles to prove it. I highly recommend Mezza Luna.

Oh, one interesting side note: Sandy Little’s sister Kristy Little used to be my co-anchor on the news. (Back in the early 90’s)

Eugene Weekly: Winner Best Pizza 2012 - 2016!

Write up from the 2012 Best of Eugene Issue.


Drew Marques tossing dough.



     If you’ve never been to Mezza Luna, do yourself a favor and visit its website so you can check out the litany of meat and veggie slice varieties created since opening in 2005. Mezza Luna’s Jody Nichols says one thing that makes the restaurant special is “the love put into each pie” as each is carefully made from scratch. Even the cheese is hand-grated. She says the Boss Hogg (bacon, spinach, Roma tomatoes, regular and smoked mozzarella, garlic-olive oil base) has made the jump from the slicer menu to the regular menu because “everybody wanted it every time they came in,” and the Savory Garden (artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, roasted red and yellow peppers, roasted garlic, with mozzarella cheese and artichoke pesto sauce) is a winner among vegetarians.