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Café Fresco: Innovative Fusion Cuisine in Harrisburg

By Marina Jokic

Nestled in the heart of restaurant row in Harrisburg, Cafe Fresco has been an innovative leader since its opening in 2005. The cafe offers a casual urban café vibe for lunch and changes its guise in the evening into a polished, Asian-inspired restaurant. Co-owner Brian Fertenbaugh believes that his establishment's adaptability is a big part of its success: "If guests know they can come to our power lunch and enjoy a high-quality sandwich and return to relax after work for cocktails or a slower-paced, upscale dinner, then we have lived up to our identities and our guests' expectations," he explains.

Executive Chef Travis Mumma offers an Asian-inspired fusion menu that stays current and boasts seafood and meats that are hand-cut in-house daily. Creative appetizers include pan-roasted sea scallops with sake, apple, bacon, and red beet risotto; edamame ravioli; and and tuna tataki with cucumber salad, wasabi sesame seeds, and ponzu shoyu (a citrus-based Japanese sauce.) For dinner, Fertenbaugh recommends the Chilean sea bass, glazed in a chili-soy sauce and served with miso and sesame-soy soba noodles. "My other favorite - believe it or not - is our filet," he says. Because we are American-Asian fusion, you may not think of us when you're in the mood for a steak, but I believe we have the best in Harrisburg.

Chef Mumma tells us that he likes to explore new flavor combinations and techniques - and seeks to learn from his guests. "I don't get hung up on using tons of ingredients," he says. "Give people what they want - and do it well. Then, when you spring something new and unusual, they trust you. Guests feel confident to order it and that it will taste good." Travis's flair for combining fresh ingredients creatively has given Cafe Fresco a loyal customer following. An assortment of interesting specialty cocktails and martinis - as well as a wide selection of wine, champagne, imported and domestic beer, microbrews, sake, scotch, and other liquors round out the menu.

For lunch, guests can order sandwiches, wraps, pizza, salads, and burgers; breakfast offering include egg sandwiches, wraps, and specialty coffees.

Co-owner Jen Fertenbaugh describes Café Fresco as an urban café by day and metropolitan gourmet by night - and it's amazing to us that a place that serves bellinis, tuna tartare, and tea-smoked duck can also make you an egg and cheese breakfast wrap in the morning and a pepperoni pizza at lunch. "Our goal," says Fertenbaugh "is to provide you with a metropolitan retreat nestled in the heart of a smaller city that will exceed every expectation - an experience that can only be provided by Cafe Fresco."

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About The Author

Marina Jokic holds a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in Russian and East...

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