It’s only appropriate that my first post should begin with a love letter to one of my favorite BYOBs. In a city distinguished by restaurants with a lack of alcohol (and Italian ones, for that matter), I couldn’t pick just any to celebrate my much-dreaded 27th birthday – the official entrance into my “late twenties” and most importantly, the depressing and decreasing chance that I will ever be featured on Forbes’ “30-under-30” list. And so it was Wednesday evening, accompanied by three good friends equally obsessed with eating, talking about eating and talking about talking about eating, that I ventured to Mercato, recently named “best Italian BYOB of 2013” by Philadelphia Magazine.
In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, (drink more water! Start moisturizing your neck!) which from personal experience have a maximum shelf-life of two weeks, or maybe from my repeated, OCD-like reading of this article, I’ve decided my 2014 aesthetic is going to be “antique minimalism” (I’m sorry I even wrote that sentence). That in mind, I fell in love all over again with Mercato’s interior. White-washed brick, an open kitchen and petite chandeliers are simple and charming enough to make you appreciate the space but not divert your attention from the food; especially in my case, since each visit involves me aggressively eating the short-rib ragu in about three minutes flat without making eye contact with anyone because it’s just that good.
Proving Mercato specializes in Italian comfort food, our meal also included an autumnal risotto and a classic antipasti teeming with winter vegetables. All delicious and all helped down by the seven glasses of pinot noir I insisted drinking on a school night just to forget I’m inching closer to 30 by the second.
Location: 1216 Spruce Street, Phila.
Website: Mercato BYOB
Take Note: Cash-Only, BYOB, quality summer sidewalk people-watching
TLDR: Go for the signature Antipasti, Shortrib Ragu, Pan-Seared Diver Scallops
Image via MercatoBYOB.com