Italian dining close to home: Trattoria by Mercatto

Nothing says comfort like a good old fashioned and well-cooked Italian meal.  With Toronto’s abundance of restaurant choices – it’s hard to find one that stays true to authentic Italian cuisine.  However, I found just that when I attended Trattoria by Mercatto located inside Toronto’s Eaton Centre. From the outside, the restaurant seems unassuming but once inside you’re greeted with an abundance of delicious and fresh flavours in their menu with a beautiful selection of cocktails.

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On the day in question, I sat round-table with some of my closest gastro-minded friends to partake in a selection of Trattoria’s luncheon options. As I walked through the doors, I was greeted immediately by the friendly staff who presented me with one of their cocktails, Nonna’s Little Secret.  Given the heat from outside, this easy and breezy summer cocktail (made with vodka, hibiscus, rose and house-made peach tea) was exactly what I needed to quench my thirst.

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No time was spared in showing us the incredible spread that Chef Istvan prepared for us as he carefully explained each dish as it arrived to our table.  Our luncheon started off on the lighter side of things with the rustic flavours of the Barbabietole Arrosto ($11.95/dish consisting of beets, burrata, arugula, almonds and aged balsamic). The dish was classic and simple and executed almost to perfection which made for an excellent match to our first cocktail du jour.

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As some Prosecco Serenissima was passed around the table, Chef Istvan took to introducing the next course which was all about seafood! Beautiful bowls of Frutti Di Mare ($11.50/dish and consisting of marinated shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, red onion and crostini) were presented. Hits of citrus popped in my mouth creating a flavour explosion with the subtle lemon-lime undertones of our sparkling. It was a match made in heaven, eat and drink wise. I really wish I could have taken a doggy bag home of this.

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When they say that food is the way to a person’s heart, they truly mean it. As we rounded into the third course, I found myself in a warm, content and happy place inspired by not just the meal but the company kept at such a fabulous venue. With our pints of Estrella Damm Pale Lager we decided to cheers one another on good food and good company.

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As they say, always save the best for last and I feel like that was done here. Our final two dishes, the Short Rib Crostini ($12.50/dish) and the Polpette ($11.50/dish for 3 veal and pork meatballs, roasted eggplant and tomato caponata) had balanced complex flavours with wonderful finishes. The short rib was juicy and tender filled with an immense amount of au jus whereas the meatballs had hearty sauce (which you couldn’t leave on the plate). Overall, the richness from each of these meat courses integrated well with the crisp Estrella.

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As our luncheon closed out, it was very apparent that owners Jack and Domenic Scaragella have spared no expense at making their Trattoria by Mercatto an unforgettable dining experience. From the beautiful windows, communal tables and most importantly, the warming atmosphere. Who knew that a little slice of Italy could be found in the Toronto Eaton Centre at Trattoria? If you’re just looking to re-charge those batteries after a day of shopping or looking for a great place for cocktails and antipasta – then look no further.

**It should be noted that all photos in this article are credited to Mauricio Jose Calero. Photography courtesy of Toronto Eaton Centre**

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  1. Tania says:

    Looks yummy. Going to have to check it out next time I’m downtown! :)