Eatalian: Mercato Metropolitano


Cannoli is a wonderful thing / For when I eat / My heart will sing

Fresh from a lacklustre and overpriced Chinese meal (Hutong at the Shard. It was a tourist day) we embarked on a walk and a hunt for dessert.

What was just several short months ago a patch of industrial wasteland is now the Mercato Metropolitano, an overpriced slice of Italia at the confluence of Elephant, Borough and Newington.

If you can afford to buy property in London right now, buy Elephant.

Initially set on gelato, the £3.50 per scoop price tag tempered our appetite for  that. Freshly-piped Sicilian giant cannoli for £3.90 was the winner, with a side of Americanos. The Sicialian stall is in the outdoor area and the owner is rarely at his pitch.

For somewhere so close to London Bridge and ‘bustling’ Borough Market, the MM is eerily quiet. I returned on my final day in London with Hans for some celebratory/commiseratory cannolis and it was still the case, even though more had opened.

The MM positions itself as an Italian market, with an Italian grocery, the aforementioned gelateria, Sicialian stall (cannoli and arancini), and café, as well as pizza, bakeries, pasta stalls, delis, and Aperol Spritz by the barrel-load. To try and enhance its commercial viability there is an ever-growing number of non-Italian stalls, including “traditional English food”.

A solid idea, but the actuality feels oddly lacking. Once its roots have more firmly taken, maybe it will entice more people further down Newington Causeway, bringing life to the badlands.

Forza to London’s new Little Italy (Piccolo Italia?) and make Italian food – arguably the greatest of all the cuisines – regain its crown from the sea of fads.