Taipei: home of soup dumplings, beef noodles and… Italian food? Though this might sound unlikely, a new project that brings Italian food to Asia in a way that has never been seen before is helping to put Taiwan on the global food map.
The project, called “Il Mercato”, aims to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of Italian cuisine and wine, going to great lengths to guarantee the quality and authenticity of everything that is served: most ingredients are imported from Italy; what cannot be imported, is grown locally in a farm also run by the restaurant. Also the wine, 100% Italian of course, is also all directly imported. In the words of its founder, Il Mercato’s logo “represents a wormhole, a portal you can step into to experience real Italian food and wine without ever leaving Taiwan”. Inside the portal, lies an outstanding team of Italian food experts, led by Euro-Toques President Enrico Derflingher. Chef Enrico developed a menu brimming with both Italian classics and his signature dishes, including the now legendary “Queen Victoria Risotto” he served to Queen Elizabeth during his stint as the Head Chef for the British Royal Family.
He also handpicked all the ingredients used in the kitchen among the best that Italy has to offer. Wine is also center stage at Il Mercato: Giuseppe Vaccarini, winner of the “Best Sommelier in the World” contest and current president of the Italian Professional Sommelier Association curated a wine list hand-picking from Italy’s treasure trove of appellation and indigenous grape varieties the best wine to match Chef Enrico’s cuisine. No expense was spared on the interior either; the design was penned by renowned architect Michele Bönan, famous for his long-standing collaboration with Florence design house Ferragamo, and almost all interior components, from the floor tiles to the dinner tables to the whole kitchen, was imported directly from Italy. This first restaurant is just a start: the company plans to expand to other areas of the capital first, then the rest of Taiwan, with the aim to be Italian food and wine Ambassadors to everyone in Taiwan.
by Paolo De Luise