I've always believed that great memories are made over food and dinner with friends at Mercato just solidifies that belief for me.
The great part about memories over food is that they can be awoken just by tasting something I even vaguely similar. A bite of this, a thought of that and you are lost in the endorphin rush of memories.
This particular dinner was to say see you again soon to a close friend from the MBA and the location had to be cozy yet classy at the same time. After a bit of frentic googling after our initial pick Pici at Wan Chai said that 5 to a table was there max we settled on Mercato following some rave reviews online.
The ambiance of the restaurant fit our needs perfectly with waiters who were present yet not hovering and tables which were close enough to feel cozy. The general feeling of airiness was present though which made the restaurants cliched gold highlighted interiors seem inviting rather than old news.
While flipping through the menu most eyes immediately wandered to the attractively prices Sunday Evening Menu which was a 5 course meal to be shared by two people at around $238 per head. An attractive option for the meat eaters it didn't offer enough for the herbivores like me and we looked to graze on other aspects of the menu.
Luckily I was accompanied by two others who would share vegetarian food with me and I was able to order a decent selection from the menu. To whet our appetite while we browsed the menu the restaurant brought out crunchy shelled fontina cheese arancini.
To kick things off we started with a Burratta and Tomato Salad which came served with nice firm slices of bread. Perfect to soak up the juices with.
The burratta was soft and tasted good yet lacked the completely fall apart texture that I normally love. Top marks to the chilli vinegar served on the table though. Meant i could bastardize dishes with spice whenever i wanted to.
While demolishing the salad, the ones who ordered the set menu were served an appetizer of cheese and jam. Never having tried the combination my self i had to reach over and scoop some onto bread. As unlikely as it sounds a soft cream cheese works with Jam. I'm not sure how so color me happily surprised.
To tackle the bulk of the meal we decided to opt for the black truffle and three cheese pizza. Originally meant to have a fresh egg on top the captain was gracious enough to replace it with mushrooms at my request. Always delightful to have restaurants which are flexible like this.
In terms of taste however the pizza wasnt anything to write home about. Yes there was a char on the crust which lent it smokiness but the base seemed a tad chewy and the lack of sauce on the pizza put me off. I genuinely wonder if there was any at all. Maybe I should have chosen better.
At this point with the set menu having worked it self through being served to my friends the meal was coming to a close.
While the meal wound down we still found ourselves hankering for a nibble and that's where the spicy crispy polenta cubes with cheese came in. Nicely crisp exteriors with a layer of spice and cheese on the outside these were indulgent pop in your mouth treats.
To cap off the meal we all dove in to the set menu tiramisus which was seemed firm but gave way to pillowy softness as soon as you dug the spoon in. The coffee liquer flavour could have been much stronger though but then im a person who likes their coffee black.
All said and done the evening was quite delightful and warrants a second visit but perhaps with a different pizza ordered and the pasta menu explored a bit.
Damages to the wallet were in the 240 HKD per head range.