fresh from the MARKET

Trattoria, Pizzeria and Ristorante Italiano, a haven above the hubbub by Chloe Hodge


a lunch in Borough Market is often a rushed exchange: street food eaten on the move whilst fighting touristic crowds, but with its first floor fine dining experience, Del Mercato literally lifts us out of the chaotic marketplace.

A small board of olives, cured meat and pickled vegetables are brought over to whet our appetites. Restaurant manager, Luigi explains that this miniature selection sums up Del Mercato: it is cross-Italian food, deriving from every area of Italy – even our olives are a combination of a liquoriceblack variety from Genoa, lying beneath the plump green olives of Cerignola.

Service is fast: I start with the lime-scented tuna tartare, thickly cut and heaped onto a paper thin slice of rustic bread; meanwhile my companion opts for cold tomato soup, accompanied by raw prawns. I try one, and somehow they taste no different to those that I ate earlier this year, fresh from the Sardinian seas. Seafood of this quality, served so generously, is hard to find in London.

Our mains are an earthy dish of beans topped with a, crisp-skinned, fillet of Seabass; and a light stew of gently cooked squid, mussels and king prawns, surrounding a firm piece of salmon, speared with whole basil leaves. This is traditional Italian cooking, with an intelligent contemporary twist.

Rotund from our first three courses, we share the Limoncello Baba for dessert. Outside of the Mediterranean, Limoncello can taste like an acidic lemon curd, however here it saturates a cake as light as air – mirroring the scent of a lemon tree rather than the taste of Limoncello. Still, the pool of sweet syrup is definitely the real thing as it leaves us even further lifted, and ready for a real Italian coffee – devilishly served with a stick of rich ganache.

Lunch at Del Mercato is luxurious yet unpretentious, with a set lunch menu to accompany their extensive a la carte menu. This is fine dining, updated – prime ingredients, multilayered dishes, and waiters who leave diners to relax whilst keeping wine glasses full.

Park Street
t: 020 7407 3651

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