Niccolo Angius and Cesarina Mezzoni offer fresh-made pasta served in edible cups from their Cesarina booth in the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market. (photos by John Gregory)
Pasta in pizza bowls: Now that’s Italian!
By John Gregory
Perhaps the most unique hidden secret in this community is the Cesarina booth appearing each Saturday at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s market. It’s not only a treasure for foodies, it’s a great find for regular fans of Italian food who just want to take their pasta on the go.
Essentially, Cesarina offers all kinds of authentic pasta in an Italian sauce of your choosing, and serves it in a bowl made of baked pizza dough. Once you finish eating the pasta, you can break apart the bowl and dip it in the remaining sauce. It’s fresh, handmade pasta served in custom-made pizza bowls. It’s a new idea that allows customers to walk around and eat their pasta at the Farmer’s Market.
To make it simple, you could say the Farmer’s Market offers a place that sells pizza in a cup. Yes, it’s a dream come true.
But the Cesarina pasta booth is so much more. It serves high-quality, all-natural, authentic Italian cuisine with no waste, all in an environmentally conscious manner. It’s good for you, it’s of the highest quality and it’s super convenient.
Niccolo Angius and Cesarina Mezzoni are the founders of this small business. Hailing from Rome, this charming couple moved to the United States about two years ago. They are planning to get married and hope to one day open a restaurant.
Fans of fine cuisine should know that these two put hours and hours of preparation into their items. They make everything fresh themselves — everything — and it’s all natural, created from the finest ingredients.
“As for produce, we only buy local and we mostly buy from farmers who actually work in a farmer’s market,” Angius explained. “The only products that come from outside California are the parmigiana and the mozzarella. … These products come from Italy.”
The tomatoes, basil and root vegetables all come from California. They make their own sauces, pasta and pizza bowls.
“All of the pasta is 100 percent vegan. … We have some vegan and vegetarian options, and we also have some meat-lovers options,” Angius said. “We have meatballs. We have Bolognese, which is the meat ragu. We have alfredo, which we serve with bacon. We have our classic margherita bowl, which is the one with fresh marinara sauce and mozzarella. … We also have a totally vegan one, which is mushroom.”
These two make their own pasta. The red pasta is made with natural tomato powder. The green pasta is made with garlic and parsley.
These natural powders color the pasta and actually add some nutritional value,” Angius said.
They prepare the food in a commissary kitchen, then transport it to the Farmer’s Market where they finish the process. It’s a complicated task.
“I have to make the dough that has to raise for five hours,” Mezzoni explained. “Then I have to do a second raise in the fridge for 12 hours. Then I take it out of the fridge, two hours over here, then we can work with the dough. Then we (form it into a cup) … Then put it in the oven; it’s hard to get the perfect shape, the perfect quantity, the right texture.”
Creating the sauces also takes great care and detail.
“The Bolognese sauce, it takes five hours to cook,” Mezzoni said.
Everything from the Cesarina booth is environmentally-friendly. Not only do customers eat the bowl the food comes in, the forks are made of cork and are 100 percent biodegradable.
Angius and Mezzoni started serving their food in the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market in September. They eventually want to open a permanent restaurant in San Diego — a pasta factory in which customers will buy and eat fresh pasta.
Visit the Cesarina website: cesarinapasta.com.
The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is open for shoppers from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every single Saturday at 10380 Spring Canyon Road, in the Innovations Academy parking lot. Visit srfm.org.