Always in search of culinary delights, resident foodie Jodie Jones ventured to newly opened Del Mercato. Through adding sophistication and finesse to a cuisine best associated with hearty, rustic portions, this charming riverside establishment has refreshed the concept of carb-ridden, bursting-at-the-seams Italian dining. The conclusion? Del Mercato ranks highly amongst the best Italian restaurants in London.
Inside, exposed industrial brickwork is offset by natural wooden beams and flooring, with corrugated iron embellishing parts of the arched roof — making a statement about the viaducts above; providing a nostalgic echo of the locations history. In many ways the interior decisions reflect the ethos of the restaurant: traditional with modern spirit.
Entering to a bar laden with classic Italian finger foods and antipasti made for an enticing welcome. Couples perched upon window-lining seats — the perfect advertisement — with glasses of red in hand and the general consensus that this is their hidden gem. Two ample-sized floors suggest a tendency for busy evenings and thus a silent hint to book in advance; a hypothesis which met confirmation as the night progressed and tables filled with contented diners.
Delicate portions were received well, presented with elegance, and wholly satisfying. A starter triumphant in both taste and texture set high expectations: a salty slice of tender mackerel atop a sweet cube of spongey violina pumpkin, beautifully dressed with a wonderfully bright, smooth beetroot cream. The meal beckoned a second course to savor equally, which thankfully did not serve to disappoint.
With the mains, bolder flavours asserted themselves. Most notably a healthy serving of octopus. Making no attempt to disguise its tentacular qualities, the grilled octopus arrived center-plate on a bed of puréed chickpeas with an array of rich steamed greens. Utterly succulent and rich, the octopus is recommended to any intrepid taste explorers and unabashed foodies. If tentacles deter, then opt for the sea bream. Delicate in flavour, the succulent fish sat proud above a warming fish broth, fixed with Sardinian fregola, courgettes, spinach and tomatoes; the perfect counterpart to a wintery evening.
At the arrival of the dessert menu, it was a shame to see so many rich, wholesome choices, none of which appealed when such a resplendent meal had been consumed. Although, pleasingly, a delicate choice of sorbets presented a lighter alternative. Lemon, grape and yoghurt flavours cleansed and sweetened our pallets whilst a rich deep coffee provided a warm note with which to end the meal and venture back out onto the streets of London.
Sitting in the same, sentimental, cobble-stoned neighbourhood that also homes The Borough Market, Del Mercato’s delectable cuisine and romantic location combine harmoniously; resulting in the successful delivery of an authentic highly recommended Italian culinary experience.
Tel: 0207 407 3651
*Del Mercato is part of the Vinopolis complex.