You’re quite the dish, Grilled Octopus at Mercato! Are you good enough to convert even the most stubborn fried-calamari fan?
Eating the fried stuff without ever having tried a bite of me just doesn’t seem right! But I know some folks are put off by my nakedness.
Naked? You’ve got a tasty dressing and salad to boot!
True. I’m served over a baby arugula salad with cannellini beans, capers, five types of olives, grape tomatoes, red onion and a basil lemon vinaigrette. Fresh and simple!
Your salad sounds delightful but let’s dig deeper into your past ...
Well, I was raised at sea ...
Not that deep. Tell us how you’re prepared and what makes you so tender.
I’m a Spanish octopus boiled whole—keep my head attached while cooking, please, for a more natural flavor—in water seasoned with lemon, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic and topped with wine corks. It’s a technique handed down from owner George Anni’s family.
You’re seasoned with cork?
Not exactly. The corks help to tenderize while I soak—kind of like a hot stone massage. Another trick to keep me nice and juicy is to make sure I’m fully submerged in the pot.
Now that you’ve had your cork massage, what’s next?
I’m marinated in my basil lemon vinaigrette and grilled for a light, smoky flavor.
What are fans saying about you?
Whether you’re a first-timer used to fried calamari or a seasoned tentacle eater, they all say I’m the most tender octopus they’ve ever had.
While you are certainly enough food to share, who else on the menu do you get along with?
Pair me up with the Crispy Roasted Artichoke—perfect for sharing—for a rustic, family style meal, or enjoy me on your own along with a meat and cheese plate. I don’t mind taking a swim with a Chenin Blan or Tempranillo, so bring a bottle or two.
Mercato, 1216 Spruce St. 215.985.2962. mercatobyob.com
PW's Taste of Philly 2014