Restaurant Review: Mercato West

>> Friday, November 2, 2012


I’ve been meaning to check out Mercato West since they first opened earlier this year. However, due to the location we always found ourselves wandering back to their 4th street location in Mission. So when we were meeting our good friends for dinner, we decided it was a good time to check out the elusive west location.

Atmosphere: A wide open dining room, featuring contemporary tables and streamlined interior while showcasing the open kitchen in the middle.

Price Range: Mid $10s-$40+


Food and Wine: It was our friends first time to Mercato’s so we decided to follow their traditional menu of ordering antipasti, primi, secondi followed by dolce (of course), all family style, which is what Mercato specializes in. Our friend recently started to venture in to pork territory so we decided to make a meal of it, starting off with the Bruschetta and Prosciutto. As you can imagine, the prosciutto came as thinly shaved slices of Italian prosciutto di parma, that’s been aged for 24 months, drizzled with olive oil and parmigiano reggiano. The meat itself was perfect, slightly salty with the tang of the olives coming from the oil. It was a good sized portion to share amongst the group.


The bruschetta was served in three different styles over classic Italian grilled bread. One was topped with classic tomatoes, the second - a white bean puree, and lastly prosciutto. The traditional bruschetta is always welcomed with perfectly plump tomatoes, but my favourite was the white bean version. The taste and consistency reminded me of hummus, creamy but less garlicky. We decided to put a bunch more prosciutto that we had ordered on to the prosciutto bruschetta, you really can’t go wrong with more pork.

Our primis were the Gnocchi and Linguini. The handmade potato gnocchi was served with peas and pea shoots, coppa (Italian for pork shoulder or neck) and pecorino romano cheese. I really enjoyed the culmination of flavours but others at the table found the dish slightly over salted. It was definitely a dish meant to be shared family style since it could become a bit heavy. This was contrasted by the linguini featuring prawns, halibut, guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon) and cherry tomatoes all in a light lemony garlic olive oil sauce. We did specify that we wanted a bit less olive oil as not to overpower the delicate flavours from the seafood. Although we found this dish to be a little under salted, so between the two pastas we were able to find a nice balance.


Now that we were filled with carb-goodness, it was time for the main entrees (secondi). To follow through on our pork theme, we had the Rosticciana, which are Calabrese style seasoned pork ribs, roasted with scallion and fresh peppers. The ribs were nicely seasoned but we did find them a bit dry. They’re not your typical fall off the bone type of ribs and if you’re expecting that then I would avoid ordering these. They are meant to be smokey and charred, with a hint of crunch. If you’re looking for melt in your mouth goodness, the Vitello would be your better choice. It’s a seared grain fed veal chop served with red onion compote. Everyone at the table agreed that it was extremely tender and succulent, with big flavours from each bite.

For the contorni or side we had the Asparagi, which is asparagus spears wrapped with pancetta and taleggio cheese. Pancetta is salted pork belly which provided all the seasoning that the asparagus needed. I did find the asparagus themselves a bit more done then what I’m used to, but they weren’t inedible.


Dolce was inevitable, dessert is always warranted at the end of a meal, especially when you’re eating family style. It just feels like an end to a feast. We had the Pinolata which is a pine nut and almond marzipan tart drizzled with apricot marmalade and the Stratum a rich chocolate flourless cake layered in between with chocolate ganache. It was really nice having bites of both, back and forth. The tart had a crumbly crust with a slightly sweet marzipan center. We all really enjoyed the apricot marmalade and asked for more because it really pulled the tart together. It also came with pine nuts to add a bit of crunch to the dessert. The chocolate cake on the other hand was dense and rich. Each spoonful was decadent and fulfilled all my chocolate cravings for the week. The texture of the cake was reminiscent of cutting in to a soft brownie.


The wine to pair with our porky meal was the Pacina Chianti, a very Italian wine. A lovely medium bodied wine with smooth tannins and a nice fruit finish. It paired quite nicely with the meat dishes (which was most) that evening and would even make for a nice drinking wine.

My Picks: Gnocchi, Veal Chop


Overall: With its big dining room, Mercato West is a great meeting spot, especially if you have a bigger group. I enjoy round tables so everyone can interact over their traditional Italian menu. The food is just what I would expect from their 4th street location and what made me a fan in the first place. Now I’m just envious of all the people that live downtown and out west. I just I’ll just have to wait until they decide to open one down south? (hint hint).

Mercato West
5000 837 85th Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 263-6996

Mercato West on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Bonnie Huang November 3, 2012 at 2:25 PM  

Mercato's is one of my favorite restaurants in Calgary! The one out west is less homey but just as yummy!

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