Cozy up at the counter of Cecilia’s Kitchen. Breathe deep and smell empanadas baking. Watch owner Cecilia Marchesini rake crêpe batter into a thin, round cake. Prop on your elbow just like you would in the home of a friend; that’s how Marchesini wants you to feel.
Last week, she quietly opened the little eatery with business partner, Stephane Diaz (the two owned the former Café Soleil on Lexington Avenue). Marchesini runs the food truck Ceci’s Culinary Tour, which often sets up at the North Asheville Tailgate Market and the Wedge brewery. Like the food truck, Cecilia’s Kitchen is not a conventional restaurant venture. “I open my kitchen for people who want to come and get food or grab a bite here,” she says. “This is not a restaurant.”
The former Artisan Catering and Deli location at 961 Merrimon Ave. (a free-standing building, set up on a hill, and the original home of Asheville Pizza Company) is devoted mostly to cooking. A dozen or so bar stools line the walls and the service counter. The perches are perfect for watching Marchesini prepare her specialties: the crêpes, empanadas and tamales that made Ceci’s Culinary Tour a success as well as new soups and salads developed for her brick-and-mortar venture. “It’s very homemade,” she says. “It’s what I would cook for my family and friends.”
Marchesini hails from a small village in Argentina; she brings that background to her cooking, along with the crêpes Diaz taught her to make (he’s originally from France). “I grew up eating really seasonal,” she says. “We didn’t have access to so many things like you have here.” In that spirit, she uses meats from Dillingham Family Farm in Barnardsville and Beulah Farm in Leicester. Despite the expense of hormone- and antibiotic-free meats, Marchesini’s dishes remain affordable: expect to get a complete lunch at Cecilia’s Kitchen for $10 or less.
In addition to her food-truck fare, Marchesini will prepare locro (pork stew with hominy), humita (corn chowder), crêpe specials, such as a beef-bourguignon-stuffed variety, and vegan specials. (The menu is about half vegetarian and vegan.)
Empanadas can be purchased fresh or frozen. “In Argentina, [empanadas] work like pizza,” Marchesini says. “You call, and they deliver, and you eat it with your hands. It’s very practical.”
On weekdays, Cecilia’s Kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Beginning Saturday, Jan. 12, breakfast will be served on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Marchesini promises breakfast crêpe specials. When the weather warms up, the elevated patio will provide additional seating.
Ceci’s Culinary Tour will continue to operate as usual. Look for it at the Wedge on Sundays from 3 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. It also visits the Saturday winter market at the YMCA in Woodfin from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For more information, visit cecisculinarytour.com or call Cecilia’s Kitchen at 545-9107.