Mercato Metropolitano opens its doors in SE1
Based around the values of craftsmanship, sustainability, urban renewal, good honest artisan food and real passion, Mercato Metropolitano is set to be the choice destination for discerning food lovers all over the capital this summer.
In the somehow pretentiously named area of SoBo (‘south of Borough’ which cannot disguise it is just north of the dreaded Elephant & Castle roundabout), lies the very recently opened Mercato Metropolitano, an Italian enterprise which is a market with food court for all things Italian and some, which opens in London following last year’s successful run in Milan (Porta Genova).
While the soft launch happened Thursday 28 July, we had already walked over a couple of nights before, really curious to see our new neighborhood foodie haunt.
It is a large space, owned by the Peabody Trust and formerly a paper factory and a taxi / bus wash depot (we seem to remember). The main warehouse building has thankfully been preserved and turned into an elegant shop and deli, managed by Prezzemolo & Vitale, while upstairs a boxing gym and a co-working space will open soon (the latter called Max). The courtyard and depots surrounding the warehouse have been turned into communal eating areas, with brightly painted tables and indoor, lots of food sales points, which are still very much opening up – in fact from our first visit to the second only two days went by and a few new enterprises had opened up.
On our first visit, when it was quieter, we tried a few items from the food for sale. I had a tasting plate from La Latteria, a London based dairy producer, and also their stuffed scamorza dish. For the two, it came to just over £10 (they price by weight) and I felt the value was pretty good. The products were of good quality, even with some less flavoursome options (for example I wasn’t convinced by the ricottina, and the little mozzarella balls hiding ‘surprises’ were a little odd), but I liked their stracciata, and the smoked cheese, which was not too strong on the smokiness and filled with ham and olives. We also picked up two slices of focaccia from La Focacceria, with toppings (cheese, ham) and they were good, albeit a little dry. Fairly priced at £2.50 each. Yet @bmcboy plate of lasagna from the pasta sellers (could not find the name) was way overpriced at £9, and not really that well presented, the lasagna pretty squashed flat and not very fresh tasting; his white wine plastic cup was also overpriced at £4.50 but a good grape.
We tried some ice creams from Gelateria Badiani. Tiny portions for £3.50, a good choice of flavours, but I wonder how ‘artisanal’ these ice creams really are in this particular location. They were very creamy and had depth of flavours, but also doubtful ingredients such as nutella, which I avoid like the plague.
By the soft launch, more places were trading including Pizza Napoletana, Italian Craft beer and a french champagne and cheese stand which I am not quite sure what is doing here as the site is supposed to offer the best of Italian and British produce. More sellers will open up in the next few weeks.
Before we left, we did wander through the shop. Here is a vast selection of Italian groceries, with varying price points. Lots of good, eco brands (such as the Winny cleaning products) and some lesser known ones too (the wafer biscuits for example). Good chocolate selection (including Modica’s famous from Antica Dolceria Rizza and Venchi), fresh vegetables and fruit (cheap apricots, expensive rhubarb), a counter with plenty of cheeses and hams and olives and some cooked food too (meatballs, aubergine bake) and a predominance of Sicilian products such as anchovies in salt. I bought some very good loose black olives and roast turkey slices, which were delicious.
It’s a well laid out space, and there is a wide selection of familiar, home food; I do see myself walking over to pick up a specific cheese or ingredients,and perhaps have a quick bite as well. I am hoping they will open a bit earlier on weekends to be able to come for coffee or breakfast. We were able to take our dog with us, and I hope this continues to be possible because there are not many grocery stores in Waterloo where we can do that.
On a negative note, worth mentioning that sustainability doesn’t seem to be on the agenda as much as it could. Latteria, despite compostable crockery, used what felt and looked like polystyrene plates (would be great to be proven wrong), and when I asked for a box to take away my left overs, they used a clear plastic box (PET); the pasta was on paper plates at least; the worst is the grocery store, exactly like an Italian super market where plastic and packaging rule. Olives are sold in plastic containers, wrapped in cling film and then wrapped in a paper bag; cold cuts are provided in full on solid plastic containers. While not as bad as in Italy (where they love their polystyrene containers), it is still not ideal to see it here. So I hope things can change soon. The press release states that Mercato Metropolitano “It’s entirely based on a sustainable economic model that is socially responsible and an asset to the local community.”, unfortunately to me is evident it is not the case entirely.
As a local enterprise, I wish Mercato Metropolitano every success, it’s Italian, it’s nearby so I will be visiting soon.
44 Newington Causeway, London SE1, UK
Open tue-sunday, 11am – 11pm