The renovation looks very Restaurant Makeover with lots of hard surfaces, bright lights, and wine-filled wall units. All of Toronto's restaurants are slowly getting Ikea-fied into one generic interior design regardless of neighbourhood or cuisine, but the new Mercatto is saved by a fantastic chandelier made from tree branches.
I had been to Mercatto several times in the past and remembered having an excellent grilled calamari salad as well as a too salty prosciutto risotto. I scanned the menu online in advance (which has since been taken down) and something called a piadina caught my eye because I'd never heard of it before. A piadina is a thin, crisp Italian flatbread that is filled with ingredients (cheese, meats, greens), folded over, and eaten like a sandwich.
When my piadina came, it looked like an entire pizza folded in half so I thought there was no way I was going to be able to eat the whole thing. I should have known better -- this is me we're talking about. It was filled with delicate slices of prosciutto, milky mozzarella, and lots of fresh, peppery arugula. The bread was much crunchier than a pizza crust with nice charred bits and it was so thin that it went down really fast.
Aside from the food, all the staff at Mercatto from the host who seats you to the busboy who removes your dishes are all exceptionally beautiful (at least they were that day). I could listen to the waiter say 'piadina di proscuitto' all day.
15 Toronto Street
Toronto, ON, M5C2E3
Web site and menus: No longer available