Al Mercato Street
If at this moment there is a formula that is catching on quickly in Milan, it is definitely street food. Perhaps because during the various lockdowns it was possible to improve a practical, fast and cheap type of consumption (and preparation), in fact there are many entrepreneurs who are always investing in this type of project.
Last but not least chef Eugenio Roncoroni who, known and appreciated for his excellent grilled meat, recently opened Al Mercato Street, located in the prestigious context of Piazza Alvar Aalto, next to Al Mercato Steaks & Burgers.
Street food is something extremely simple, in fact Al Mercato Street is very basic in form - compared to the sparkling restaurant adjacent to it, the detachment will make you feel bad if you, like me, accidentally enter the restaurant first where the city is at your feet thanks to the large windows. Starting from the restaurant and crossing the separation curtain, you will be swallowed up in a sort of all-black bunker illuminated by the cold screens of the menu.
In short, the first impact is not the best. Furthermore, there are only about eight stools to linger in, half of which do not overlook the square but in front of the black wall - you will feel like you are in punishment for doing something wrong. My advice is to make a take-away and consume at the Biblioteca degli Alberi Park during a sunny day.
In the premise of this format there would be Asia (evoked by the red lanterns on the ceiling), in reality in my opinion there is more of an American air here, largely inspired by Tex-Mex cuisine. A blatantly fusion formula that on paper announces great explosions of flavor.
You order at the cashier and expect to be alerted by a disc that lights up when the kitchen has prepared your meal. Just like in a fast food restaurant. In the general disorganization you will not be provided with chopsticks, cutlery or napkins. The staff at the checkout and in the open kitchen are polite, but visibly unprepared.
And the menu? It is divided into types of food: house special (fried chicken), hamburger (chicken or red meat), hot dogs, tacos, nachos, cuban sandwiches, burritos, gyoza, ramen and teppanyaki - these last courses will be prepared in front of you in the small visible part of the kitchen.
There are also some vegetarian options and combo options to opt for as a menu with soft drink (or water) and fries. You can also add sauces on the side, while drinking coke and beer.
I tried a bit of everything, starting with the grilled pork gyoza and yuzu sauce, whose dough was definitely the frozen one from the supermarket. I tried the nachos, heavily seasoned (before you dip your hands in, ask for napkins because you will get very dirty!) and the sautéed egg noodles without broth, a meaningless dish, with totally unrelated sauces and condiments and served almost cold (counting that it's a teppanyaki it has to be hot). They reminded me of Wagamama's "empty refrigerator" noodles ...
Instead, everything rises again with tacos: served with two tortillas (probably to have a greater grip and not to make all the sauce dribble), they are certainly the most interesting and best made proposals. I tried them all: Tacos Al Pastor (roast pork, creme fraiche, pico de gallo, radishes), Tacos Prawns (crispy prawns, pico de mango, cabbage) and Tacos Grilled Chicken (grilled chicken, avocado, chimichurri sauce, creme fraiche , fried onion).
My final judgment is a great "so-so". Pretending not to know that there are successful entrepreneurs behind this project, Al Mercato Street is disappointing.
All the proposals are decidedly messed up and at the same time unrelated, assembled without feeling. The taste is flat, with no flavor peaks. The final bill would be low if the experience weren't so meager.
What can I say, a missed opportunity. What a pity!
📍 Viale della Liberazione 15, Milan