Having been a Londoner for numerous years, I would have never imagined I would be writing these words that Elephant and Castle is becoming a foodie heaven. Yes the gentrification process has hit this part of South London. In fact, we all have to congratulate food hub concepts like Mercato Metropolitano that takes derelict parts of town and completely transforms the whole area.
The core idea did originally come from Italy, hence you will notice a strong Italian influence whether it is at the food stalls or at their artisanal supermarket filled with top quality items from small independent producers mainly from Italy.
All in the name of research, we went around the food stalls to try out what are the best items on offer. We tried a classic tortellini stuffed with meat: they used pork, Parma ham, Mortadella and Parmesan. The pasta had just the right amount of chew to achieve that al dente perfection.
Next we strolled over to warehouse 2 where there are more international offerings and vegetarian options. We had a whirlwind tour with samples of Spanish omelette and cheeky Venezuelan arepas. The stall holders are extremely friendly and more than happy to offer samples where possible.
For our main course, we settled on one of their most popular offerings here: Napoletana Pizza. You might be surprised by their giant wood-fired oven, which is quite an investment. Aren’t they meant to be rotating food stall vendors? I guess this vendor isn’t going back to Italy anytime soon even with the brexit vote.
We went for the beast that is Ripieno, a calzone filled with mozzarella, tomato, ricotta, salame, Parmigiano and black peppercorns. There is just nothing like freshly baked calzone coming out of an oven. The crust is thin and gently chewy with some slight charring. The spicy flavours are well contained in the folded up pizza until you sink your teeth into this delight.
For desserts, there are only 2 options you should choose from. Their addictive gelato from Firenze has won accolades and has an elegant velvety texture or you can try their new assemble your own tiramisu stand where you can choose ricotta cheese as a base along with a multitude of toppings.
This is one place that demands repeated visits, because you will discover a hidden gem every time you come back to Mercato Metropolitano.