Right in our own backyard

For over a year we’ve lived around the corner from a restaurant called Mercatto (literally: it’s 200m away, on Toronto Street) but haven’t tried it. Last night, after leaving an overstuffed beerbistro where the wait was 45 minutes, we decided to try Mercatto instead. It’s actually a pretty decent little spot: nice, not flashy, friendly servers and very good food.

I had a grilled gamberi (shrimp) appetizer with chickpeas, lemon and some kind of fiery demon excrement called peperoncino. It wasn’t that hot, except that I wasn’t expecting it, and just shoveled the appetizer in my mouth, not knowing some or all of it had been soaked in this hell-broth, and so my mouth caught fire. Nellie had the calamari: very tasty, equally spicy. Then the mains arrived: Nellie’s was a spaghetti semplici with mushrooms thrown in; mine was an orecchiette pugliesi with rapini & olive oil, but no sausage, alas. The pasta seemed homemade and more doughy than I’m used to, but still very tasty. For dessert we split a pumpkin creme brulee…very tasty, if a little runnier than normal creme brulee. All this was, of course, accompanied by several glasses of wine. Nellie showed her usual flair for inadvertently picking the most expensive by-the-glass wine on the list, something called a Super Tuscan. At least we didn’t order by the bottle…there’s a $500 bottle of Amarone on there.

Pretty good spot, all in all. Nice to know it’s there.