I once heard that Japan is the land of milk and honey . . . on pizzas. Thankfully, this is not the case at Mercato. The only unwanted topping to feature on chef Chihiro Togo’s pizzas is sweet corn, which is best served where it began — on the cob. You can’t blame the Japanese for sweet corn on pizza, though, my own homeland of Ireland (another great pizza country) is awash in sweet corn-infested pizzas.
This is a roundabout way to say I end up ordering the sweet corn pizza: caveat emptor. That said, Togo is serious about his pizzas; certificates line the walls declaring his achievements and accreditations. On my visits, Togo is always the one to shape the pizzas and man the large wood-burning oven — and he definitely makes a good Neapolitan-style pizza . . . if you disregard the sweet corn. What he also does very well are salads. My side has variety and taste thanks to garbanzo beans, succulent tomatoes, marinated carrots and a red wine vinegar dressing. Togo deserves credit for giving the Italian salad the attention and big flavors it deserves.
Mercato opened last summer on the site of a former produce market. It’s a building full of promise, but it has yet to find its feet — or more tenants. If you’re by Umekoji Park and yearning for a break, drop by Mercato. Also, try Togo’s take on the croquet. There’s no sweet corn in it, I promise.
1-1 Kyoka-kan, Suja-ku, Shokai-cho, Shimogyo, Kyoto; 075-353-4777; open 11 a.m. till 9 p.m.; closed Wednesday; pizzas from ¥1,100; nearest station JR Tanbaguchi; smoking OK; Japanese menu; Japanese spoken.
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