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Little Italy Mercato Blog


July 20, 2012 - 3:30pm
Chris S.


Shop the Little Italy Mercato to set the table for an outdoor birthday bash, bridal shower, barbecue or garden party. Pick up lovely Provencal linens at Desire Tablecloths, and choose a handmade ceramic bowl from The Wheel to fill with market fresh fruit for a centerpiece. Bottlehood’s unique tumblers made from repurposed craft beer bottles are perfect for fresh squeezed lemonade, iced tea, or cold beer.

Visit Contes Bella Vino for whimsical wine bottle stoppers that also make great gifts for your guests. Fill a fair trade wooden salad bowl from Seven Hopes United with farm fresh greens and tomatoes, and pick a beautiful carving board frm Artistic Woodcrafts for a cheese course. Send treats home with your guests in a colorful reusable bag from Re-Pac Bags. Find beautiful candelabras at Iron Eyes if it’s an evening affair, and fresh flowers from Dram and Echter are a great touch for anytime. Happy hosting!


July 20, 2012 - 1:15pm
Chris S.

We all say delicious when ripe summer tomatoes reach the Little Italy Mercato. We love tossing tiny grape tomatoes from Maciel Farm with quinoa from Sustainable Pantry in a spinach salad, and layering beefsteak tomatoes from JR Organics with fresh mozzarella from Taste Cheese. We can’t resist fried green tomatoes from Kawano Farms with a sprinkle of Sel Gris from Salt Farm, or thick slices of stupice tomatoes from Suzie’sFarm topped with their micro basil. Tom King Farm brings some rare heirloom varieties, and you’ll find more red, yellow, green, orange and purple beauties at Schaner Farms and Sage Mountain Farms. Looking for something else to make with the abundance of tomatoes at the market? Try this buckwheat crepe with fresh eggs from Paradise Valley Ranch, corn from Vang's Farm, goat cheese from Nicolau Farm and tomatoes from your favorite farmer. Take home the taste of summer from the Little Italy Mercato today!


July 13, 2012 - 12:08pm
Chris S.

The Little Italy Mercato is the place to find SanDiego’s freshest local seafood. Poppa’s Fresh Fish is famous for their sea urchin ceviche, made with farm fresh citrus and vegetables and served in the urchin shell - so fresh the spikes may still be moving! They’ll also shuck you a dozen oysters, and their fish choices include local sea bass, rockfish and halibut, grouper from Baja and fresh Alaskan salmon. Carlbad Aquafarms has luna oysters and mussels sustainably raised in waters just a few minutes north of San Diego - we love to steam the mussels with tomato and fennel from Maciel Farm. You can’t miss Fish Addiction’s amazing tank full of live Pacific stone crabs - be careful, they do pinch! They also have live sea urchins and scungilli, also known as whelk or top snail. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

Dog Gone It

July 7, 2012 - 9:34am
Catt W


Somehow word has gotten around that the Little Italy Mercato is pet friendly. It's easy to understand how that's happened. Little Italy is possibly the most dog-centric neigborhood in San Diego, despite the small condos that provide most of our housing. Our market is on a city street, and plenty of our neighbors pass by on their way to the de facto dog park at Washington Elementary School. Vendors offer natural pet food, treats, and pet portraits in Amici Park at the market just east of State Street. And our staff is a dog loving bunch outside the market.

But CalCode, the set of regulations that govern food safety at restaurants, grocery stores and yes, farmers' markets and special events, is not so pet friendly. While not restricting service animals, those regulations require that live animals be kept 20 feet from places where food is prepared or stored for sale to the public. In a crowded market like ours, that's tough to accomplish if you're bringing your dog along to help you shop.

Aside from the health regulation issue, the Little Italy farmers' market with its amazing farmers and vendors, live music, and water view is a popular place. It attracts a whole lot of shoppers and Date Street can get tricky to maneuver, even without leashes and dogs below eye level making things harder. We don't want a shopper to trip and injure themselves or one of our canine friends. Pets can be stressed out in large crowds of unfamiliar people and may act unpredictably. That can't be fun for you or your dog.

So while we will never restrict service animals, and won't put you in an embarrassing or stressful situation by asking if your dog is serving a purpose covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have posted larger signs reminding you of health code requirements, and we are asking our patrons to shop responsibly so the market can provide a pleasant experience for everyone. Because our two-legged and four-legged friends all deserve that treat!


July 6, 2012 - 12:35pm
Brijet M.

Get ready for sticky fingers and sweet tastes at the Little Italy Mercato! Peaches are in full force, find just the right ones for you at Smit Orchards and Lone Oak Ranch. Grab a handful of white peaches and puree them for a classic bellini; pick up prosecco at Filippi's or Mona Lisa in Little Italy and snag a basket of ripe rasperries from Pudwill Farms.

Take a dozen donut peaches home, you'll eat half of them on the way. With the rest, halve 'em, grill 'em, slip the skins off and rest on a plate of fresh burrata from Taste Cheese, then drizzle with honey from Mikolich Bees, crimson raisins from Smit Orchards and toss with almonds from Hopkins AG. Spoon that warm mixture over fresh burrata from Taste Cheese for a delicous, decadent brunch dish.

Make a peach trifle like this, substituting brioche from Belen Bakery for the pound cake and layering with slivered almonds from Terra Bella Ranch and raspberry jam from Jackie's Jam! Or just pick up a few yellow peaches, grab a napkin and devour as you shop the market! Peach out! 


June 29, 2012 - 9:48am
Chris S.

Get fresh figs from Polito Farm and Pudwill Berry Farms at the Little Italy Mercato this Saturday! Use black mission figs from Pudwill and fresh chevre from Nicolau Farms in this fig and goat cheese bruschetta, or make a classic Sicilian caponata by mixing figs with eggplant from Vang’s Farm or Suzie’s Farm. Adriatic figs from Polito Farm have a pale green skin and a bright pink, almost strawberry colored flesh; they’re especially sweet and perfect in desserts. Combine them with anna apples from Terra Bella Ranch and almonds from Hopkins Ag in this fig and apple tart. Ripe figs have a short shelf life, so plan to use them within two or three days; but we fig-ure they won’t last that long once you taste them!

We Want Mo' Cilantro!

June 22, 2012 - 4:56pm
Chris S

The distinctive fragrance of fresh cilantro fills the air around Valdivia, Vang’s, Maciel, and Gilbert Quintos’ farm stands at the Little Italy Mercato.  You’ve probably used cilantro in salsa made with tomatoes from JR Organics or in guacamole with avocado and limes from Heritage or Paradise Valley Ranch, but it’s also delicious in summer fruit salsas; try it with nectarines from Lone Oak, cantaloupe from Kawano or pluots from Smit Orchards. You’ll want to grab a big bunch if you’re making ceviche from Poppa’s Fresh Fish.

Cilantro is native to Europe and was popular in medieval cooking, but fell out of fashion there  in the 1600’s. It’s now most closely associated with Asian and Latin American cuisine, but it was once key in Italian cooking, and cilantro pesto actually predates the basil version that we know today. Pick up some chandler walnuts from Terra Bella Ranch and parmesan-reggiano from Taste cheese and try it out for yourself, tucked into quesadillas or tossed with Assenti's pasta.


April 13, 2012 - 4:31pm
Chris S

Ruby red rhubarb from Gilbert Quintos Farm adds a dash of color to the Little Italy Mercato farmers' market this week.  Look for long, thin stalks that resemble celery but with a characteristic crimson color and large, red ribbed leaves at the end.  

Botanically speaking, rhubarb is a vegetable, but it’s often regarded as a fruit due its sweet-tart flavor that makes it a favorite in desserts.  It’s traditionally known as “The Pie Plant” because of its popularity as a  pie filling, where it excels alone or in combination with strawberries from Kawano or JR Organics, or apples from Smit Orchards.  It’s also  great in Susan Russo's Rhubard Crumble using Pudwill berries, tarts, muffins, or a cheesecake made with fresh quark from Springhill Cheese Company.  

Something for Every Bunny

April 7, 2012 - 7:21am
Chris S

You’ll find everything you need for a magnificent Easter brunch or dinner at the Little Italy Mercato this Saturday. Begin with an appetizer of grilled asparagus from Suncoast Farms topped with a perfectly poached quail egg from Spur Valley Ranch, and a salad of Sage Mountain Farm’s organic greens, just picked strawberries from Kawano Farms and Nicolau Farm’s fresh chevre. Fill the bread basket with fresh-baked hot cross buns from Bread and Cie or Belen Bakery, brioche from Patisserie Soleil and croissants from Loic Patisserie.

Pick up potted basil, mint and parsley from Rivera’s Treasure Garden to make a super fresh salsa verde to spoon over grass fed lamb chops from Son Rise Ranch. Bring home honey from Mikolich to thicken a Lone Oak Ranch pomegranate juice glaze for a locally raised ham from DaLe Ranch. Polito Farms has tiny potatoes to roast alongside.

Paradise Valley Ranch has beautiful hand woven Easter baskets and they've already hard-boiled your eggs; the various breeds of hens there and at Schaner Farms means pretty colored eggs so there's no need for dye!  Or pick up a Wheat Grass basket from Suzie's Farm.

Buy a box of Caxao Chocolates' exquisite truffles, and add treasures like lavender sachets from Keys Creek or colorful toys from Casa Artelexia to make baskets for all ages.  Don’t forget flowers to give your table a special touch - JR Organics and Maldonado Growers have beautiful Calla Lilies and Hidalgo Flowers and Dram and Echter have gorgeous  bouquets ready to grab. Hoppy Easter to all!


March 30, 2012 - 1:52pm
Chris S

We’re making a slew of slaws from the fresh, crunchy vegetables at the Little Italy Mercato farmers' market this week.  If you think of cole slaw as a bowl of limp cabbage swimming in vaguely mayonaise-y dressing, you’ve been missing out on some great spring salads! Almost any of the fresh produce at the market can be made into a slaw, which is nothing more than fresh, raw fruits or veggies sliced thin and tossed with your favorite dressing.  

Stop by Suzie’s Farm and Smit Orchards to stock up for carrot-apple fennel slaw.  Lacinato kale from JR Organics, an avocado from Gilbert Quintos, and toasted almonds from Hopkins AG combine in this kale slaw.  Make up your own recipe using broccoli, cabbage or kohlrabi from Vang Farms; create a dressing of artisan oil and vinegar from Gianni's, citrus fruits from Paradise Valley Ranch, and Mikolich honey. Or use local olive oil from Marion's pastured eggs from Schaner Farms if you really like the mayonnaised version.  Just make sure everything in your recipe is fresh and local - it’s the slaw of the land!