The beauty of Mercato Osteria in Red Hook, NY is that it somehow manages to feel elegant, homey, traditional and trendy all at the same time. When you meet Chef Francesco Buitoni (yes…THAT Buitoni — his father’s family started Buitoni Pasta in 1827), you immediately know why. He has this wonderful mixed pedigree of having learned to cook from his Grandmother in Italy, yet was also a sommelier for Mario Batali in NYC. In fact, a lot of his recipes are his Grandmother’s…all using fresh, local ingredients…just like she did in Italy. Perhaps that’s just one of the reasons why everything tastes so fresh and authentically Italian.
Francesco is not new to the area or to Red Hook. He used to own a very popular small cafe located behind the Red Hook Inn, called Mercato Tivolio, where they sold paninis, biscotti, Italian cheeses, pastas, meats and olive oil. Many were disappointed when the panini shop closed but all waited anxiously for the restaurant to open…. and it was well worth the wait!
The restaurant, like Francesco, is warm and accessible. Joan gives Francesco’s partner, Michelle (a Hammertown customer) a “10” on style and design of the main room. The walls are a soft buttery yellow, the bar is roomy if you just want a quick bite and a glass of wine and for entertainment….the open kitchen allows you to watch the very talented Francesco do his magic. And believe it or not…the bathroom is a must see!!
Mercato’s menu changes daily with the availability of local ingredients and most of the pastas are made fresh. It’s something Francesco believes strongly in:
“I cook because I love to eat and find pleasure in comforting others with good food. The most important thing is to realize that food is pleasure but also nourishment, so what you eat is a vital ingredient to a good life. The food that we ate on the farm in Italy was always in season and just harvested— how can you go wrong when such amazing ingredients are available to you? I love that as well about the Hudson Valley“.
Make sure to call for reservations, as Mercato has become quite the hot spot. We were there on a week night and the place was filled with a terrific cross section of customers. Students from Bard … families … couples … well-dressed and casual … everyone feels welcome and at home here.
Plan a late afternoon Hammertown shopping “fix”, book an early dinner reservation at Mercato (5 or 5:30), and you’ve got yourself an end to a perfect day! Great shopping and good food…what else could you ask for?
Click below for a sample menu —www.mercatoredhook.com
And…for more about Francesco Buitoni click the link below.