Moonbeam Cafe in Lancaster specializes in comfort food
The Moonbeam Café opened at its new location on Main Street in Lancaster on Aug. 18. Its menu includes nine varieties of bread baked fresh daily on the premises. (KRISTI GAROFALO/Union Leader Correspondent)
Owned by chefs Shannon Williams and Christine Fatterusso, the restaurant opened August 18 and features an American bistro-style menu.
They both share a common passion about the food they serve: fresh ingredients, no processed foods, breathtaking flavor and beautiful presentation.
“The biggest thing is to focus on freshness,” Williams said. “We like to let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
To ensure freshness, the dresssings and sauces are made from scratch. Vegetables and herbs are purchased locally from a greenhouse in Lisbon. Williams and Fatterusso also make their own mozzarella cheese, flavored whipped butters and seasonal jellies.
“If my mouth doesn't water, if my eyes don't see something that's luscious, then it could be better,” Fatterusso said. “We want to get to the place where every plate is a masterpiece ... and it will happen.”
Williams trained at Chez Boucher in Hampton while Fatterusso studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
The restaurant employs a staff of 30, including head baker Lane Nevins, who prepares nine varieties of handmade bread every day for the restaurant's dishes.
Pastry chef Stephanie Watkins creates desserts such as cheesecake truffles and Moonbeam's signature carrot cake, which is loaded with rum-soaked raisins, pineapple and walnuts.
Breakfast items include zucchini fritata with red peppers, leeks and provolone cheese, and crunchy French toast made from Nevins' handmade pumpkin raisin bread.
Lunch specials feature Argentina steak salad, salmon hash, fried haddock filet sandwiches, and “stacked” Angus burgers.
Located in the former Double S Restaurant, the interior was completely remodeled. The new interior is bright and cozy with wide white pine floors, tongue-and-groove sponge painted ceilings, and black and mahogany-stained tables.
Textured plaster walls are accented with luxuriant greenery and framed black-and-white photos of various Lancaster locales.
The lighting reflects Fatterusso's other passion: she's a physician and medical director at the Littleton VA Outpatient Clinic.
“I care deeply about our veterans. Our little patriotic note here with the red, white and blue lighting, it's meant for them,” Fatterusso said.
Moonbeam Café was formerly in Gorham, in a smaller location with six tables. Williams said many Gorham customers have followed them to the new location, which seats 96.
He said Lancaster officials have been very supportive of their new business and so has next door neighbor David Fuller of the Rialto Theater.
Fuller used his marquee to announce the café's opening and has become a regular customer.
“They're great people, and I'm very happy they came to Lancaster,” Fuller said. “It's a great addition to the community. Their menu is excellent — all the basics with some fancy touches.”
He said he hasn't missed a breakfast since the café opened and can't wait to see their dinner menu.
Moonbeam Café, which will soon include a small bakery, plans to open for dinner later this month. Current hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. for breakfast and lunch.
“Having a restaurant is a dream we've been chasing forever,” Fatterusso said. “I want people to be as excited about food as we are and to know it will always just keep getting better.”
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Kristi Garofalo may be reached at email@example.com.
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