Back in 1972, when Imma and Mario Caparaso founded their humble little continental delicatessen on St Bernards Road in Rostrevor, they probably never imagined Adelaide would fall so hopelessly in love with their authentic Italian fare. But we did. And thanks to our fanatical and enduring loyalty to their business, that little family-run shop has grown to become something of a cultural empire in Campbelltown – Mercato.
Ah, Mercato. Wandering through this Mediterranean foodie wonderland is akin to being magically transported to ‘Bel Paese”, the beautiful country of Italy. Your senses are soon overjoyed by a vast palate of sights and aromas. Wheels of parmesan bigger than car tyres. Spectacular legs of prosciutto, pasta for days and buckets of olives bobbing in brine and oils. And then there are the sounds. Clattering. Singing. Probing questions and passionate responses in English and Italian dialects.
At first, one is filled with a sense of wonder and inspiration, such is the range of mouth-watering items on the shelves! But before long, there’s a palpable sense of excitement, a deep longing to want to get home and open your prosecco, start cooking that sugo, break open that alpine cheese, devour those olives, tear apart that freshly baked focaccia and plunge it into the purest of Italian extra virgin olive oils.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it all completely irresistible. And Mercato’s range is hardly limited to food. The shop also has a superb range of kitchenware, glassware, cookbooks and Italian newspapers (that I can’t actually read but certainly have a good go at pretending I can). I am sure I have fooled the odd passer-by into thinking I am fluent.
Of course, I have only skimmed the surface – Mercato is like a beautiful onion. Each new aisle is like another layer, waiting to be peeled away, revealing something unexpected. 50 years of love and commitment has produced a shopping experience beyond compare, delivering the very best in authentic Italian food and wine, all wrapped up in one very cool, old school, but thoroughly modern location.
And while you’re there, make sure to stop off at the Mercato Bar and Kitchen for one of their special (I deserve a moment in Italy) treats, snacks or meals. There’s an outstanding selection of beverages too including wines, spirits and – not surprisingly – espressos to die for.
There are also the regular offerings of unique yet very affordable events that include collaborations, wine tastings, masterclasses and cooking lessons (everything from pizzas to panettone) taught by culinary leaders. There really is something for everyone.
In fact, the hardest thing about Mercato… is leaving.
Molto bene Mercato! Here’s to all that was, all that is and all that is still to come.
Photos: Duy Dash
Mercato Opening Hours
(Open 7 days a week):
Mon-Fri 7:30am to 6:30pm
Sat-Sun 7:30am to 5pm
Public Holidays 9am to 3pm
Bar Mercato Kitchen
7:30am to 2:30pm
625-627 Lower North East Rd, Campbelltown