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The Face of Good Taste: Cafe Fresco Center City’s Executive Chef Travis Mumma

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Café FrescoHarrisburg’s Café Fresco Center City was the first restaurant to introduce an American-Asian Fusion menu to central Pennsylvania, according to Executive Chef Travis Mumma. Ten years later, Café Fresco Center City is a staple on Downtown Harrisburg’s Restaurant Row, continuing to blend traditional American dishes with Asian flair. “We’re in a good groove,” says Mumma.

A native of Central Pennsylvania, Mumma says he’s grateful to then-owner Nick Laus for the opportunity to fuse their creative culinary vision together. “I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished and are still accomplishing,” he says. The torch was passed to current owner Brian Fertenbaugh two years ago, who had managed the restaurant for seven years under Laus’ guidance.

The secret to Café Fresco Center City’s popular menu? “Great individual flavors used in fun ways—our glazes and sauces are killer,” Mumma explains. His personal favorite is a Szechuan Calamari, while customer favorites include Mongolian Glazed Short Ribs, Chilean Sea Bass—their top entrée for years, and Szechuan Shrimp—“a twist on chicken wings, combining Asian shrimp with a Buffalo wing style sauce, that won us a prize in competition,” says Mumma.

Chef Mumma is especially proud of the fact that nearly every dish, sauce, dressing and dessert is made in-house. “For appetizers, we offer an Edamame Hummus that is creamy and buttery, served with homemade flatbread. Our Kobe Beef Sliders are always a popular choice,” he explains. “We also do a pickled ginger bleu cheese salad dressing that pops.”

Desserts include Chocolate Molten Lava, Asian-inspired Banana Walnut Spring Rolls, and a Peanut Butter Tart, described by Mumma as “an individual peanut butter pie.” He says it’s fun to create daily Crème Brulee specials: “We’ve done everything—Oreo, Brownie Chunk and Maple Bacon Brulee.”

Traditional breakfast and lunch menus attract downtown traffic to Café Fresco, and an Asian-inspired Saturday Brunch menu has been well-received since its inception one year ago.

“Asian-American is a whole different vibe; I don’t put any borders around it,” Mumma reflects. “I like playful food, things that make me smile. I think the industry is hard enough; if you give yourself the ability to have fun and let your guests have fun, you’ll find success.”

Café Fresco | 215 North 2nd Street | Harrisburg, PA 17101 | 717-236-2599

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