Mercato Metropolitano is a new covered market, deli and outdoor space that’s landed in Elephant and Castle like a glorious, delicious UFO straight from planet Italy. You’ve GOT to go!

It’s a move that makes you proud to be a London foodie, even though its roots are most definitely not London roots. A genuinely exciting, unusual, vibrant, tasty, innovative eating experience. Mercato Metropolitan in Elephant and Castle is bellissimo.

Apologies for the drama – and the clichéd use of the Italian language – but how else can you react to an all-singing, all-dancing celebration of food and drink. And one brought to Londoners by people from Italy who have faith in our capital’s ability to clutch Mercato to its bosom.

img_1827Set up in an old paper factory (yes! How very new York!) Mercato is a covered space with an array of concessions featuring genuine Italian delicacies – wood-fired pizza, prosecco, gelato, pasta, you name it, it’s there.

And this enormous area sits next to the biggest Italian deli HotJoint’s ever seen, all gussied up with molto olive oils, vinos, pastas, meats and cheeses, much like its sister markets in Turin and Milan. And then, next to that, a more outdoorsy space with plenty of cover that will host more events like the one they did with the wonderful Some Voices choir, which is no small undertaking given that their massed ranks number 500 people.

In the concessions area the early morning aromas are of the wood-fired pizza crew firing up their oven and the sounds are the clinking of clean glasses readying themselves for the thirsty masses.

At the gelato stand, run by the award-winning Paolo Pomposi of the Florentine Badiani gelateria, the machines are gently whirring readying the glorious Buontalenti-based gelato. He travels far and wide to spread the gelato word and says he was drawn to the London Mercato by the concept itself.

“You can smell the authenticity, it smells like Italy, and I like the simplicity of the idea that’s why I brought my business here,” Paolo tells HotJoint. “You can find very high quality food here.”

img_1829Badiani present an everchanging line-up of gelato, at times featuring chocolate with ginger, salted caramel, mint, hazlenut with cookies, strawberry, red fruits, lemon yoghurt, chocolate with cinnamon, pistachio and more.

Mercato Metroplitano had a soft opening in summer but is now officially open and rolling out the events attracting the crowds. “They started very quietly,” confirms Paolo, “with a mix of people coming from the local area and many Italians too.”

“It’s getting more and more popular and getting very positive feedback,” he adds.

With Italian craft beer, martini espressos, charcuterie, a gnocchi counter, a fishmonger and a ton of events, for example the wonderful Backyard Cinema, Mercato Metropolitano is an Italian vision with a bright future. As Elephant and Castle drags itself out of the housing lethargy that allowed it to become a rundown area, MM is only going to get busier and better. Why not go now, while it still has that freshly unpacked feel of yummy newness.