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Bar Mercurio - review

After having read excellent reviews of Bar Mercurio's pizza on CH, we decided to give it a try on Saturday night. Having never been and not knowing anything about the restaurant, we were firstly shocked at the pricepoint for their pizza's - $16-$20 - and none of the ingredients were all that exotic/rare so as to justify the prices!! But I guess that was our mistake - we just assumed that it was a pasta/pizza joint with typical $11-15 pies... oh well. First we were offered a table immediately in front of the entrace, which we refused, but the hostess found us another table - it wasn't a whole lot better. We were seated it a very claustraphobic corner with little to no air circulation. While we received prompt attention at the outset, the service got progressively worse throughout the evening. We had to ask several times for our water glasses to be refilled, and our meals took a particularly long time to be served. There was a lack of attention from our server(s) throughout the meal.

As for the food, we shared the ceasar salad - which was nicely presented (and split into 2 for us which is always nice), and tasty albeit a bit pricey at $9. This was made up for by an abundance of fresh shaved parmasean on the salad, however.... My pizza (with gorgonzola, apples, honeyed walnuts and carmelized onions) was admittedly quite tasty and I really enjoyed the cracker thin crust. That said, I can get a fairly similar and even tastier pie at Terroni for less $$. My husband was not so enamoured of his pizza however - and although the crust was good, I have to agree that the tomato sauce was rather lacking in flavour and none of the toppings (mushrooms, roasted red peppers (?) and chicken) made up for this lack of flavour.

Over the course of the evening, our little corner got progressively hotter, and by the end of the evening we were suffering tremendously... (partially due to the fact that our water glasses were rarely refilled, and when they were it was with luke-warm water). We asked for the cheque and advised our server that we were overheating so we wanted to leave forthwith - notwithstanding our servers assurance that the cheque was on the way, we waited another 10-15 minutes before it arrived... All in all, while the food was OK, the inflated prices and lousy service will keep us away in the future.

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  1. Wow - that's too bad. Maybe pizza is not the thing at Mercurio?? I was there on a Monday recently (1st time) with DH and we loved it. The place was hopping at 7PM which is novel for a Monday. We shared the grilled calamari for an app & it was quite possibly one of the best , tenderest, and tastiest we'd eaten in some time. I had the 1/2 honey-roasted capon with frites and a fresh cuke/tomato salad on the side. I rarely order poultry, but this was truly divine - juicy and flavourful. DH had the butternut squash ravioli which were also excellent. Our serverwas good - not too cheery, but totally capable and attentive enough. I would go back any time. I thought it was refreshingly "un-Yorkville" and thought the price point reflected the freshness of the food and the care in preparation.

    Just my two cents.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: jcanncuk

      I actually just posted my review about Bar Mercurio on another thread today (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387238).
      Our experience there was awful. Service was terrible, food was not much to write home about. In fact, when we ordered our salads, there were a number of ingredients that were listed in the menu that did not actually make it onto our salad plate. I had the pizza and have to agree that nothing was particularly memorable about it, other than the price. Halfway through our dinner, a large party of about 60-ish people showed up, that milled about in the back half of the restaurant, standing around and drinking and eating appetizers just generally being loud and distracting. It made for a very unpleasant evening. When we brought our concerns to the server, we basically just got a shrug.
      I will never go back to that restaurant.

    2. Could both of you be more specific: which Mercurio are you writing about, the one on the north side of Bloor or the one on the south side?

      4 Replies
      1. re: embee

        Oops, sorry, the one on the north side of Bloor. I thought that the one on the south side of Bloor was called something else (with Mercurio in the name though.)

          1. re: pescatarian

            same owners. Couldn't get into BM one night and they sent us to their sister restaurant L'Espresso Bar Mercurio. Not a good call.

        1. re: embee

          Yep, the one on the north side of Bloor.

        2. Strange - I guess no restaurant is consistent.
          2 weeks ago, I had a dinner there - probably the best restaurant service and food I've had in Toronto in a year. I would definitely go back. But I guess any restaurant can "mess up" at times!

          1. Without a doubt, one of the most disappointing restaurant experiences in recent memory. Absolutely ridiculous! Lousy food. Exceptionally horrendous service! This restaurant is highly un-recommended!

            1 Reply
            1. re: rubbish82

              Without a doubt one of the nicest restaurant experiences in years....food was freash and made to order (pizza oven churns out a nice thin crust pizza) and for the huge portions the prices were reasonable (not cheap, but not horrendous either). Service was attentive and quick. There was a small mistake with our order (meat was rare not med). Server quickly whisked the dish away and fixed the problem. Even though we didn't make a fuss, everyone at the table was given a free dessert. This place may not be for everyone as it can be a bit noisy, but it has a really nice cozy vibe. I have no hesitatuion in recommending it.

            2. From what I've read here, it does seem inconsistent. However, I've never had a bad experience there. Maybe I just luck out with servers, but they've all been great. Last time I went with someone who has certain dietary restrictions and they were super accommodating. They are a little pricey, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the pizza there and the roast capon.

              1. I'm not certain what the complaints are on about. Granted, I have been there only for late lunches, and always had a pizza. I've never had a problem with the service, and the pizza has always be above par. It's not cheap, but it's not a rip-off. Bonus points for the decor.

                1. I've been there a couple of times to sit at the bar and thought that the food and atmosphere were both excellent. The staff is very friendly and down-to-earth -- it feels like everyone there is family. And even when I order something I don't love, at least the effort was there. Their menu is certainly not standard Italian fare. In short, I really like it and can't see from where the negative comments (particularly about the staff) are coming.

                  1. Tried the margherita pizza at Bar Mercurio last week, when I wanted a quick bite before visiting the ROM. I was surprised that their version of margherita pizza came with dabs of pesto on top, rather than actual basil leaves. The pizza tasted ok, but it was hard to chew and impossible to cut with a knife. I usually like flatcrust pizzas, but I've never encountered one that was this brittle before. I haven't eaten at Bar Mercurio before, so I'm not sure if this is typical of their pizzas.

                    The gnocchi alla gorgonzola (although a little pricey at $19) that my friend ordered looked like it was a better choice.

                    Our servers were very courteous and friendly. We needed to be in and out of the restaurant within 45 minutes, and this was not a problem for them. I think it's a good option if you need a moderately priced meal near the ROM.

                    1. I am in one of the UofT departments that have moved to Mercurio's building in the course of the past year so I have tried their food just for the sake of immediate proximity. service is unattentive to the point of being insulting. pizza is WAY over priced, ordered their daily special once and was served something resembling a vegetarian stew on a stiff and unappetizing crust. wine selection is very good though.