Blame Mr. Greenjeans, JJ Muggs and Baton Rouge as the reasons why I’ve never considered the Eaton Centre to be a satisfying culinary destination. Thankfully the addition of the fourth Mercatto location, Trattoria Mercatto (220 Yonge St., across from Roots near Sears), has officially changed my opinion. The menu is slightly different than their other restaurants but was still developed by Executive Chef Rob Rossi (pictured above), who’s currently one of the three chefs remaining on Season 1 of Top Chef Canada.
In a strange bit of timing, just four days after the tasting event I attended at Trattoria, Rossi announced his departure from the Mercatto group after two years of service via twitter. Thankfully the chef has made his mark in the kitchen focusing on simple and fresh Italian fare, so it seems unlikely that the menu will change significantly without him.
The space is expansive and industrial with a bar area specked with several high communal tables for standing drinks and bites, then there’s seated dining on the main level, mezzanine and large patio.
I’ve showcased the two boards above to encourage you to try their olives, which are honestly the best I’ve had in North America. They’re featured on the Pan e Olive ($7, pictured left) which pairs them with three kinds of homemade breads and olive oil, and on the board filled with local and imported Salumi.
There are 10 optons listed under the Pizze category of the menu, and five are exclusive to this location. They range in price from $13-$17 and in words of Suresh Dosh of Spotlight Toronto, the pies are lighter in taste and sauciness compared to what you’d find at Terroni. When you’re looking to really experience the simpleness of a pizza’s fresh ingredients, this is the right choice.
The moment I see the plate known as Spiducci (lamb skewers with rosemary and lemon), I’m immediately taken back to the grill that I saw outside Cafe Cinquecento at their La Notte Delle Mamme event. These don’t have the same charcoal taste but for an everyday affair, they are juicy and full of flavour.
My favourite dish is the Polpette ($11), Mercatto’s signature veal and ricotta meatballs. Sometimes meatballs are dry or the sauce too acidic but this hits the perfect balance. The veal is well seasoned and the sauce is tasty enough that I can’t wait to order whatever other dishes it’s featured on.
Sadly I had to leave the event early, but later on several chefs from Top Chef Canada showed up to watch an episode together. I will be back to Trattoria Mercatto to sit down for a proper meal, and I promise to raise a glass and celebrate the fact that the Eaton Centre is no longer a restaurant wasteland.
Trattoria Mercatto / 220 Yonge St., Toronto
647 352 3390 / Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 12-10pm