What’s on the menu at Cantina Mercatto, the newest addition to the Mercatto restaurant family

What’s on the menu at Cantina Mercatto, the newest addition to the Mercatto restaurant family

Name: Cantina Mercatto
Contact: 20 Wellington St. E., 416-304-0781, cantinamercatto.ca, @mercatto.to
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence
Owners: Jack and Domenic Scarangella and Steve Christian (La Palma, Constantine)
Chefs: Executive chef Doug Neigel and Kevin Mark (Hudson Kitchen, O&B)

The food

“We’re not about sous-vide cooking or gadgets,” says Neigel, of his dishes at the newest member to the Mercatto family. “We’re into fire-and-pan, straightforward cooking.” A handful of the core dishes are shared among all five Mercatto locations (pasta carbonara, diavola and Margherita pizzas), but the majority of each menu is particular to its location. Cantina differentiates itself from the bunch by focusing on cinq-a-sept snacks and an impressive selection of vegetarian plates. On weekends, they serve an Italian-inspired brunch (alongside the more traditional, always popular eggs Benny).

An order of stracciatella cheese (from Vaughan’s Quality Cheese) comes with compressed watermelon, olive oil-preserved zucchini, spiced cashew crumble and some vin cotto. $12.


For this tuna salad, Neigel presses an albacore tuna steak onto a thin slice of sourdough, and then sears the bread-flanked fish carb-side down. The salad component is a mix of pickled fennel, cucumber, pear and celery cress. $16.


This pizza is topped with San Marzano tomato sauce and house-made merguez sausage made from ground New Zealand lamb shoulder. The pie is finished with fior di latte cheese, oven-roasted yellow tomatoes and fresh oregano. $19.


This chitarra alla carbonara is topped with pancetta, pecorino, black pepper and a Conestoga Farms yolk. $17.


“Everyone knows us for our pizza, but a lot of people would be surprised to know you can also get dry-aged, prime steak here,” says Neigel about this 18-ounce 40-day dry-aged prime ribeye with shishito peppers and artichokes in a pool of shallot agrodolce. (Not pictured: the side of fries that come with every order.) $55.


This mascarpone-stuffed lemon roll sits on top of lemon curd. $8.


The drinks

The wine list of more than 100 bottles stocks everything from big California reds to lesser-known Lebanese blends and a few natural wines, too. The focus though, is on classic Italian regions, such as Sicily, Tuscany and Piedmont. Beers, however, are a Canadian affair: local craft brews dominates the list of bottles and cans (Burdock, Collective Arts, Godspeed).

The kalimotxo was created to appeal to the old-school Italian set. “I wanted something Jack’s [Scarangella, president of Mercatto] father would enjoy drinking,” says Smith about the Nonino’s Cantina. The easy-drinking cup combines Chianti Classico, Amaro Montenegro and Chinotto with a squeeze of lime and basil garnish. $12.

The Wellington Martini swaps out olives for a star anise garnish, and the brine for Luxardo Maraschino. Hayman’s Gin and Dolin’s Blanc carry the alcoholic weight of the sipper, served in this too-cute Nick and Nora glass. $14.


The space

The 200-seat room takes up the ground floor of a newly completed 58-storey condo. Alessandro Munge (Studio Munge) designed the first Mercatto on Toronto Street 20 years ago (it closed this past May in preparation for Cantina’s opening). Since then, Studio Munge has designed all of the Mercatto restaurants, including this one. The cavernous, industrial look space is balanced out by stunning hand-painted wallpaper created by textile designer Candice Kaye.

Mercatto president Jack Scarangella found all those glass bottles on the top shelf.


The five-foot-tall floral arrangements that bookend the kitchen were designed by Grace Zeppilli (GZ Art Co.).