With Valentine’s Day coming up in less than a month, couples – or just one half of the equation – are looking for a romantic restaurant for a delicious dinner for two.

No significant other this year? No problem! I too am a free bird, and I’ve always found creative ways to spend Valentine’s Day, but that is a completely different post altogether.

I recently came across this Italian restaurant called Mercatto and I like their selection in food. Aside from the romantically dim-lit ambiance and the food, they have a pretty good wine selection and a full-service bar to get the right wine pairings for all of your dining desires.  They actually have three locations plus a trattoria for you to go to. The one I went to for this review is the one on Toronto Street.

Mercatto Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio, $14

Carciofi - deep fried marninated artichokes,

Carciofi – deep fried marninated artichokes, $12

I tried a number of their appetizers including their salumi board, carciofi-deep fried artichoke hearts, beef carpaccio and polpette-veal and pork meatballs with crispy polenta. All were good in flavour and great for sharing. My personal favourite was the salumi board which featured 4 different cured/cooked meats. After visiting Patria, I’ve been growing a taste for great salumi boards and just letting the salty and acidic flavours melt onto my tongue.

Salumi Charcuterie Mercatto Toronto

Salumi Board, $16

For the main I chose to go with their seafood saffron risotto. A good risotto takes time and requires a lot of patience from the cook making it. Mess up the process and you get glue. Their risotto was alright, rich in flavour but a bit too salty. The mussels were perfectly cooked and tender and the rice was soft but still held its form.

Saffrom Seafood Risotto - Zafferano

Zafferano – Saffron and Seafood Risotto, $25

Now the part of the meal that won the dinner for me was dessert. I sampled three; their chocolate torte with cherry sauce, a tiramisu and their bitter caramel gelato with whipped cream and salted peanuts. The first two desserts were okay, nothing spectacular about them, but that bitter caramel gelato, mmmmmm, no words can really explain how amazing it tasted. The slight bitter undertone to the sweet caramel gelato with the light whipped cream and salted roast peanuts was such a beautiful play of salt, bitter and sweet flavours in my mouth. If there is one thing I can recommend at this restaurant is this dessert. In contrast with the rest of my dinner, the rest of the food was alright and nothing out of the ordinary for a Toronto Italian restaurant.

Tiramisu Mercatto Toronto

Tiramisu

Chocolate Torte Mercatto Restaurant Review

Chocolate Torte

Bitter Caramel Gelato

Bitter Caramel Gelato with Salted Roast Peanuts – HEAVENLY!

I tried searching for the bitter caramel gelato at their Trattoria location inside Eaton Centre and unfortunately they only have the regular caramel gelato and use marshmallow fluff instead of whipped cream.

Anyway, while I was dining here I saw quite a few couples dining as well so this is definitely a hot spot for a romantic dinner for two. My suggestion is to order a bunch of dishes to share if possible, makes the dining experience much more intimate and adventurous.

I’ll probably write up a post in the next couple of weeks of my top 10 restaurants to go out for a date, so stay tuned for that.

Until we dine again,

-The Piquey Eater

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