Via Mercanti Food Shop
Via Mercanti Food Shop in the heart of Kensington Market is the place to go to for fresh Italian takeout food. It's also a great spot for enjoying an espresso while watching the foot traffic. It's located on Augusta Avenue directly across from its parent restaurant, Pizzeria Via Mercanti .
Owners Romolo Salvati and Lora Spiga opened the shop because their patrons at Pizzeria Via Mercanti wanted to buy their pizza dough, pasta sauce and authentic ingredients to use at home. Spiga said that when the building opened up across the road, it just made sense to take advantage of the opportunity.
The space has a comforting atmosphere. After nearly three months of renovating what was once La Rosa's Bakery Deli and Snacks (a bakery that won't be missed ), Via Mercanti Food Shop opened its doors with no remnants of La Rosa to be found.
The panini are popular here. With 13 options to choose from - 13 being a lucky number in Italy - their two most popular ones are the chicken parmigiana ($9) and veal parmigiana ($9.) There's also the vegetariano ($9) and the salerno ($8), which has homemade meatballs in tomato sauce. Yum.
The food is inspired by Solerno, Italy, which is where Salvati, the head chef, is from. Spiga informs me they want their products to reflect that region as much as possible, and so they import ingredients and products directly from there.
This is the place to come to if you're looking to make an authentic Italian dinner at home. They have plenty of fresh take-home ingredients, including Italian olives and sundried tomatoes ($1.99 per 100 grams) as well as white and whole wheat pizza dough available in balls ($2 each), which flatten out to a 12" pizza.
They have fresh pizza sauce ($5 for small, $8 for large) and pomodoro ($6 for small, $9 for large). There's also delicious olio piccante ($3.50 for small, $7 for large) and fresh pasta ($1.49 per 100g).
While the outside may look small, the space is actually quite large, with soaring ceilings and a massive kitchen in the back. They're using the kitchen to bake their own bread and to make all of their own hot plate items. Spiga's mother, Maria, bakes all of the cookies and sweets.
Their cookie counter is extensive, with sweets made with traditional Solerno recipes. Spiga explains that many of the desserts are usually made for big feasts and the celebration of major Saints.
I had the Chiacchera (which translates to "chat" or "gossip"), which is a yummy, sweet fritter and which would accompany a cappuccino perfectly.
In addition to their hot counter, sweets selection, and Italian coffees, they also offer catering.
The owners' commitment to offering authentic Italian dishes is obvious, and Salvati is certainly passionate about his food. Come here if you're looking for authentic Italian ingredients and dishes - and don't forget to grab an espresso.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.