A little background: Mercato is a new coastal Italian restaurant from celebrated three Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
The experience begins from the moment you enter Mercato’s stylishly rustic surroundings. Reclaimed wood and warm leather tones serve as a gentle complement to the exposed steel, iron and glass to create an atmosphere that is polished yet warm and inviting. The design imparts a sensual feeling of comfort and lightness that redefines the idea of “farm chic”.
Mercato’s decidedly simple and understated approach represents a refreshing addition to Hong Kong’s dining scene. The relaxed sophistication, addictive cuisine, and friendly, thoroughly unpretentious service paints a picture of Italian life as it should be experienced in its purest form.
My visit: You can probably tell that I have a slight love affair for Chef Jean-Georges from my cover photo so obviously I was extremely excited when I heard that he would be opening a restaurant in Hong Kong.
Our night started off with some house made bread accompanied by some butter and a delicious olio de peperoncino.
Our first appetizer was a light salmon carpaccio, sea salt, lime and herbs with a drizzle of olive oil.
The house made ricotta with strawberry was a real indulgence. This dish had it all: crunchy bread, creamy ricotta and sweet strawberry jam. It was the most simple and perfect appetizer.
The octopus, potatoes, fennel herb salad and lemon caper emulsion was a hit. The octopus had a crispy exterior while keeping the interior tender. The seasoning was spot on.
For the main course, we ordered the rigatoni and meatballs with smoked chili and tomato ragu. The pasta was cooked perfectly however I would have preferred a bit more heat.
We were then graced with the black truffle, four cheese and farm egg pizza. The minute it hit the table, we could smell the strong earthy aroma from the truffles. The pizza crust was quite average though, not crackly-crisp but not soggy. But that wasn’t a huge issue for me as it allowed the toppings to shine a little more.
Next came the proscuitto wrapped pork chop, glazed mushrooms with white wine and sage. The pork chop was moist and the sage’s slightly bitter flavor was a bright complement to the rich and salty proscuitto.
For dessert, we ordered the Italian cream cake which was moist and not too dense with a mild cream cheese icing. However we found the raspberry sorbet a tad too sharp for our liking.
The sundae with salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts, popcorn, whipped cream and hot fudge was delicious! It had the right balance of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy.
Verdict: Unlike Jean Georges New York, Mercato is a family-styled Italian restaurant that serves up dishes perfect for sharing among friends and family. The prices are also reasonable considering the location and quality of the food.
Happy eating 🙂
8/F California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
+852 3706 8567