Via Mazzini, where bar and restaurant Mercato Vianova now stands, was once home to a regular flood of haggling locals, all congregating around the city’s market in a blur of tastes, smells and hurried conversation. Today, it is smart professionals and bright-eyed students who crowd the street, clinking artfully-constructed cocktails and clamouring over inventive platters of fresh sushi. The image may have changed, but the atmosphere of conviviality through food remains the same.
The downstairs bar and sprawling outside seating area forms one of the city’s most popular destinations for Italy’s ubiquitous aperitivo. Most days this takes the usual, albeit well-constructed, form with an array of focaccia, fried bites and, mercifully, a selection of salads. A couple of days a week however, usually Wednesdays and Thursdays, this post-work dining institution takes on a modern twist: aperisushi. A dedicated chef specialising in Japanese cuisine usually constructs the sushi menu of their first-floor restaurant, conjuring up ingenious options like tempura pumpkin flower uramaki and soft-shell crab with flamed salmon. However, on aperisushi evenings, for 10 euros you can select any cocktail (the classic Pimm’s shaken up with fresh fruit and icy ginger ale is a simple but perfectly sharp sushi accompaniment), a plate of freshly prepped ‘chef’s choice’ sushi and unlimited access to the mostly veggie aperitivi platters inside. The atmosphere is relaxed and sociable, the food carefully sourced and deftly executed. Arrive early to grab a cushioned seat outside and indulge in the final rays of the day’s sunshine.
In addition to sushi, the inside à la carte menu offers a wide selection of other dishes, many retaining the light, playful aspects of the aperisushi, as enjoyed in a particularly delicate dish of raw prawns tossed in a bright mango dressing. The extensive wine list proudly displays Italy’s wide oenological heritage, also proposing a carefully picked selection of organic and natural wines.
With a lively atmosphere and ever-changing seasonal menu, Mercato Vianova has retained all the spirit and the obsession for quality as the original market from which it takes its name.
Via Giuseppe Mazzini, 15
+39 075 573 0445
Photos by Pippa Cole