Buon appetito, with style aplenty

Updated: 2012-07-29 07:15

By Li Xinzhu in Shanghai (China Daily)

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A new Italian restaurant has recently opened at Three On the Bund, a historic address on the Bund that has been transformed into Shanghai's premier dining and lifestyle enclave.

Buon appetito, with style aplenty

Mercato uses firewood from fruit trees to add fruity flavor to the pizza. Photo provided to China Daily

The restaurant, Mercato, is owned by three-Michelin-starred French chef Jean Georges Vongerichten, who also runs eponymous French restaurant Jean Georges on the same building. Mercato is Vongerichten's first Italian restaurant in the world.

Unlike his French restaurant, which serves delicate dishes in a fine dining environment, Mercato offers a relaxed space suitable for enjoying a meal with friends and family.

The restaurant is the masterpiece of Neri & Hu, a Shanghai-based design company specializing in handmade products.

The entire room is a wooden structure that bridges the organic and natural with elegance and emotive modernity. The wooden furniture is made from recycled materials.

Reclaimed wood and warm leather tones serve as a gentle complement to the exposed steel, iron and glass. The inspired design imparts a sensual feeling of comfort and lightness that redefines the idea of farm-to-table.

With 240 seats in the dining room, each table boasts stunning views of the Bund.

In the central area of the restaurant is a pizza lounge and bar, equipped with a huge traditional wood-fired oven imported from Italy.

To add a fruity flavor to the pizza, the restaurant uses firewood from various kinds of fruit trees.

The selected cocktails feature the finest Italian spirits complete with freshly muddled fruits, as well as a diverse array of wines from Italy.

Good food comes from good ingredients, says Vongerichten.

All ingredients are strictly selected from reliable suppliers. Instead of purchasing instant products from wholesalers, Mercato makes its own pasta and sauces to maintain freshness.

Buon appetito, with style aplenty

Vongerichten personally recommends a few of his favorite dishes - bucatini served with tuna bottarga and fresh mozzarella with black pepper. The tuna bottarga tastes a bit salty but perfectly matches the bucatini.

For pizza fans, he suggests wild mushrooms, fresh ricotta, fontina and egg as toppings. The egg is placed on the top so that when it's heated, the yolk flows into the pizza to add an extra flavor.

"We want to make everything here family style - suitable for people to share food together and talk to each other," says Vongerichten.

Mercato is now only open for dinner but the chef says he will certainly consider serving lunch in the future.

Contact the writer at lixinzhu@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 07/29/2012 page13)