We are fortunate at work to have a boss who is Italian and loves good food. This ensures that we eat well during team lunches with him.
He scheduled a team lunch around the corner at a place I always just passed right by without a notice, Mercato (on 39th Street just before 9th Ave, right near Port Authority).
It was decorated in a way that made you feel like you were dining in someone’s eclectic home.
I especially appreciated the mirror frame made out of corks and the wine vault made out of old wine crates.
They did a nice job of making it look inviting and simple.
And the food was QUITE good. We started with some shared apps, including meat balls…
And a trio of bruschetta.
We all got our own dishes including linguini with seafood.
And seafood soup.
And grilled skirt steak with roasted potatoes, broccoli rabe, and balsamic vinegar.
I went with the branzino, which included 2 perfectly prepared fillets with raisins, spinach, celery, and garlic mashed potatoes (which I traded out for the roasted potatoes).
It was very well cooked and I really liked the mild sweet contrast from the raisins in the sauce. I expected a bit more from the potatoes, however.
We put 3 small desserts on the table for everyone to split (I always find it funny how no one ever wants dessert and then when something comes out with multiple spoons… it magically disappears).
They had a special dessert that day which was like a pound cake drizzled in chocolate. It was pretty good.
We also got the pistachio and almonds ice cream cake served with chocolate and honey. This was my favorite.
And we tried the ricotta cheesecake with vanilla beans. It was good, but, per usual with cheesecake, I like mine better.
Overall, this place serves high quality, classic Italian food at reasonable prices for the area (all pastas were $10-$16 and all the main courses were $14-$22). I still give a slight edge to Il Punto and Carbone for Italian in the Penn Station/Port Authority/Broadway/Javitz Center black hole of a neighborhood I live in.
Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10