Italian Week is upon us and there is much to celebrate including Preston Street's very own new Mercato. Growing up as a kid adjacent to Ottawa's Italian village, I spent a lot of time with friends roaming the neighbourhoods. It’s wonderful to be back and to see how much has changed in the intervening years.
Today we explore more of our city with the following:
Let’s take our seat at the table.
—Ralf Joneikies, food and drink editor
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The idea of Mercato Zacconi grew, as so many recent pandemic ideas do, out of necessity.
The Zacconi family had been running their wedding and event space Sala San Marco on Preston Street for approximately 35 years when COVID came along. Wedding party sizes had been shrinking, but overnight, weddings were off the table entirely.
What to do with 8,000 sq. ft. of event space and no one to entertain? Looking at those businesses that were still operating and suceeding, Tony Zacconi had the idea of opening an Italian grocery store. There was no such full-service shop anywhere along Preston and the plan came ever more into focus.
His parents agreed to sell him the Sala San Marco space and he hired a consultancy firm to produce a feasibility study. In the end, they took 5,000 sq. ft. of event space and converted it into a destination for all things fine and Italian.
Yet Tony didn’t want this to be just another grocery store. He envisioned something along the lines of Eataly, those bastions of Italian good taste found in major markets like Toronto, New York and Chicago. Construction on the Mercato began in January of 2021 and by December, they opened their doors to the public.
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