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I finally got to Mercato Metropolitano today.

This relatively new Italian marketplace opened last September by Italian businessman Andrea Rasca who has two matching spaces in Italy. He espouses the same principles as one of the other concepts he is involved in: Eataly, supporting small producers, showcasing the best of Italy and creating a good eating experience within an old industrial space in an interesting part of the city.

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Given all the talk about Eataly opening in London, or not, it seems he just got up and opened this in the meantime. It is hip and trendy making the most of an old paper factory just around the corner from Elephant and Castle which is a developing area in its own right. It sort of reminds me of so many of these concepts in New York with all that grunge factor, graffiti styling, brash colours and the obligatory coffee vehicle.

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This is a high open industrial space, with uncomfortable bright yellow seating, lots of street food-esque stalls in pop up wood chip surroundings and an outdoor garden area. Signage is classic black and white. Staff are all young. There is a retro cinema and if you read more on their website lots of community things going on. In time it will settle into itself and I am sure in the Summer it is packed. It was certainly full of lots of young Italians today.

Perhaps I am just getting too old for this trendy happening vibe, or I have seen too many things repeated again and again, but the food stalls were a little bit dull for me…the industrial vibe a bit contrived… and the seats a little bit too thin and hard. I think Eataly has so much more elegance and style which for me is a better mouthpiece for all things Italian. After all style is one of their strengths.

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The best part of the whole thing was the Sicilian market which is a fab shop for all things authentically Italian. The brands there are truly Italian and not seen in any other places around. The shopping experience embraces the whole family with fun baskets and comfy seating areas interspersed between the produce. Everything is fresh and colourful, simply prepared and packed and served by Italians who know their stuff.

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The counter is packed full of wonderful meats and an impressive array of specialist cheeses. The pastas, beans and rice all better than anything you get anywhere else. The antipasti simple and tasty. And it doesn’t seem to be too pricey either. If you want to buy Italian then it is definitely worth the trip. Just take it home to savour in the comfort and warmth of your own home.

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