Back in September, I fell for some classic clickbait and read about Mercato’s 888rmb (plus service charge – of course there’s a service charge) caviar pizza. I scoffed. In the same article, though, I read about their enduringly popular truffle, three cheese and farm egg pizza, which I desperately wanted to scoff. Six months later, I finally made it. It was worth the wait.
Mercato offers tasting menus from 498rmb. Don’t bother; they’re just truffle pizzas with unnecessary padding. They also serve a predictable range of starters, pastas, mains and desserts, all of which are competent. The Iberico ham (228 / 448rmb), like that of every other Bund joint with tenuous Mediterranean credentials, was delicious but overpriced. The pasta and meatballs (128 / 158rmb) were well-cooked, if lacking in flavour. More memorably, the sharp, lemony Veal Milanese (248rmb) sauce cut well through the pompous pair of breaded fillets.
That’s not why anyone goes to Mercato, though. The flaming pizza oven, visible from almost every seat in the room, is in constant service. Our table of five ordered two truffle pizzas (218rmb each), as well as one with sausage, short rib, prosciutto, mortadella, and every other possible preparation of pig (178rmb). The former is worth the price and the amateurish service. A perfectly-runny egg oozes into the cheeses; with the earthy, charred base, it’s a decadent combination. The pork-feast was also good, but everyone just wanted more truffle.
We also ordered a couple of desserts: ricotta doughnuts and the tartufo (both 72rmb). Each had a good balance of sweet and sour and was technically sound, but they were an anti-climax after the pizza. For five varying appetites, with drinks, we paid 2527rmb.
Mercato isn’t cheap, but there’s at least one dish here worth shelling out for. Happily, it also happens to be meat-free. To save time, money and calories, just order a truffle pizza and a glass of anything – then find somewhere else for dessert.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.