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A Genuine Italian on the North Shore - Spoon Il Mercato


  • Pákozdi Nóra

01/07/2014 2.00am

Mankind is wonderful: you can munch Asian street food in Rome and hake instead of zander at Lake Balaton. In face of this, it might not be surprising at all that you can eat genuine Italian pizza and an unforgettable panna cotta in Balatonakarattya. The atmosphere does not only rely on the romantic Adriano Celentano hits or the Fiat500 parke don the roof: Il Mercato is authentic and lovable thanks to the Italian-speaking cooks and the dishes cooked of premium ingredients.

We have never been disappointed in the professionalism of Spoon Restaurant joints, so there could be no question about us visiting Il Mercato in Balatonakarattya to examine the Mediterranean garden, the ham slicing machine (a curiosum in Hungary) and a few authentic Italian dishes.

Photo: Spoon Mercato Facebook

The restaurant complex is quite easy to notice from the main road: you can see the lights and the exotic garden of Spoon Lodge in the front, and the spectacular sign of Il Mercato greets you in Brassó utca. They gave it all: the warm Mediterranean colours and the block paving already set the right tone, then there comes value. The patio is huge, and the wrought iron furniture, the terracotta tiles, the lush oleander bushes, and the Italian accessories make it homely and devoid of any tension. One might consider the soft troubadour song slightly kitschy, but the moment you catch the first instruction in Southern Italian accent from the half-open kitchen window even Ramazotti loses some of its mushiness. You have arrived.

Photo: Spoon Mercato Facebook

The executive chef, Károly Pintér talked to us about Il Mercato, the spirit of the place, the kitchen, the ingredients, and the desire to attract not only holidayers, but also people from nearby cities and Budapest; people, for whom the love of Italian cuisine does not only mean bathing their pizza in ketchup and cooking spaghetti. We asked Károly to compile a set menu can speak for the local flavours and specialities. We were slightly inconsiderate for not having eaten of the pizzas baked by Italian pizza bakers, but - in spite of our love for the round mass favourite - our basic concept was to taste other Italian specialities in Balatonakarattya.onakarattya.

Photo: Spoon Mercato Facebook

For starter, we got a plate of the breads of the house, olive oil, aceto balsamico, and artichoke (for 1200 HUF). Then came the anchovies on  sprout salad with cider vinegar and black bread chips (for 1590 HUF). The thin slices of bread were - of course - tinted black with squid ink. Their other antipasto, the Tuscan frutti di mare and shrimp soup (2150 HUF) denotes a filling plate of hot soup on a tomato base with the breads baked on spot, topped with a sizable piece of scampi. All the fruits of the sea on the shore of Lake Balaton bring you a definitely stronger sensation of flavour than roast hake.

We also tasted a pasta: the tagliatelle with half-dried tomatoes, pistachios and king crab (3590 HUF), which was followed by beef ribs "salimbocca" on polenta with dried tomato and Parmesan espuma (4990 HUF). The polenta is a really delicate genre: it is quite hard to chance upon a really delicious plate, but Il Mercato managed to dumbstruck us with their masterful Italian version. The texture of the Parmesan espuma was quite surprising, but it allowed the flavours of the cheese to emerge more dominant. Talking of Parmesan: here the waiters grate parmigiano cheese onto the dishes at your table- which we really appreciated. We loved the desserts as well: we could not go leave without sampling the tiramisu, and almost fainted with pleasure upon tasting the panna cotta with black sesame crumbs and basil strawberry jelly (1350 HUF) served in a small jar - the emblematic dessert of Spoon Restaurants.

After our perfect menu, we were guided around the patio and the closed section of the restaurant as well. The air of the authentic Italian interior reaches all nooks of Il Mercato. There is a counter packed with hams and a numbered Dutch ham slicing machine - a few of the details worth getting lost in. The entire restaurant is quite elaborate, this is true for both the appearance and the brilliant meals. Il Mercato - a piece of Tuscany - is yet another top notch restaurant on the north shore.

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