Having attended Jarvis Collegiate for three of four high school years, and then later Ryerson University, Yonge & Dundas and the Toronto Eaton Centre have been a prominent part of my upbringing in downtown Toronto. As you can imagine, I’m familiar enough with the area to confidently say that it has not been a place known for it’s culinary scene. For many years, the height of sophistication was going to the Pickle Barrel to drink Bellinis with your girlfriends. Thankfully, that is no-longer the case.
Notably, the Toronto Eaton Centre has been a huge influence in leading the change in the area. In 2011, the Urban Eatery was launched — a revolutionary new take on what it means to eat “at the mall” that not only includes a worldly selection of foods, but also the largest sustainable scullery operation of its kind, allowing diners to use real plates, glasses and cutlery.
The elevated dining experience at Toronto Eaton Centre can also be found beyond the ‘haute’ food court, and inside of Trattoria Mercatto, located at the Trinity Square entrance; further proving that eating “at the mall” can not only be good, but it can great.
I’ll be the first to admit that heading to Toronto Eaton Centre hasn’t often been the first place that’s come to mind when thinking of a restaurant to frequent. But, considering, how close I now live from the downtown establishment, it’s somewhere that I (still) often find myself, and also often when hungry. To find a restaurant I love in the Yonge & Dundas area would be like a eureka! moment, and also extremely convenient.
When Toronto Eaton Centre and Trattoria Mercatto invited me to “Antipasti with them” on a recent Sunday afternoon, of course I said ‘yes!’ In fact, it felt kind of silly that this would be my very first time visiting Mercatto‘s Toronto Eaton Centre location, and I was eager for the experience. Here’s what I saw, and what I tasted:
No, that is not a Caesar! Trattoria Mercatto is an Italian restaurant after all. To kick off the afternoon we started with the ‘Nonna’s Little Secret‘ cocktail made with vodka, hibiscus, rose hip, house-made peach tea and lime. A light and refreshing drink that was perfect on a hot day.
Nonna’s Little Secret was complimented with Barbabietole Arrosto (roasted beets, burrata, arugula, almonds and aged balsamic, picture above) and Carpaccio Di Manzo (beef tenderloin crudo, brandy creme, pickled onions, grana padano, and arugula, pictured below).
After the cool and refreshing plates came the deep fried calamari — yum! The Calamari Fritti (fried calamari with fennel and garlic crema) was perfectly served with a glass of Italian bubbles, Prosecco Serenissima.
If fried food isn’t your thing (although not too sure how that could be possible?) you can still indulge in wonderful fresh seafood with the Frutti Dei Mare which is a medley of (non fried) marinated shrimp, baby scallops, calamari and red onion, served with crostini.
As we moved into the third course, we were (naturally) presented with the heaviest of foods for the afternoon. Spanish lager, Estrella Damm, was served alongside the Short Rib Crostini (sticky beef short ribs, fior di latte, on grilled sourdough, topped with basil) and the Popette (veal and pork meatballs, roasted eggplant, and tomato caponata, grana padano).
If you can’t already tell from the pictures, this course was like heaven for carnivores.
The overall experience at Trattoria Mercatto inside Toronto Eaton Centre was not only delicious, but also welcomed delight. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been longing for a great (and easy) restaurant in the area, and was surprised to discover that Trattoria Mercatto in the Toronto Eaton Centre has been available to me all along for the past three years. I can assure you, it will never be overlooked again.
Cheers to great eating in the mall!
Thank you Trattoria Mercatto!