Urban Food Market is one of the most intriguing new venues to open in Tallahassee during the restaurant boom of 2016, yet it still seems to be under the radar for many diners.
One challenge is that it’s among the first tenants in the former Tallahassee Mall, still undergoing renovation. But Urban Food Market is definitely worth the trip.
In this one 22,000-foot space (not counting the three patios), you’ll find a fine dining restaurant, hot pasta bar, coffee and gelato cafe, a pizzeria, a butcher counter offering fine cuts of meat, paninis, homemade breads, a grill, gourmet items, a wine shop with rows of Italian wines and a small wine and craft beer bar.
The Italians behind the scenes are Mirko Di Giacomantonio, Urban Market CEO and pasta specialist; Rudi Sacchet, an expert gelato maker; pizza chef Ferruccio Cosenza; executive chef Alessandro Di Maggio and butcher Angeloni Maurizio. Wine expert Vittorio Ledda left the market but the wine shop remains.
The focus is on authenticity and tradition, with ingredients, even the pizza flour, imported from their homeland. My husband, friends and I have tried just about everything here and haven’t hit a loser.
The decor at Urban Food Market is minimalist, with concrete floors and few frills, but the place keeps evolving. There’s live music on Friday and Saturday nights, which adds a buzz. There are plans for a juice bar, and starting this Saturday, the venue will host the Brickyard farmer’s market that’s been housed in the mall’s Pavilion. CEO Giacomantonio said this week is a trial run but “we’d like to see it there every weekend or even every day.”
If you’re still discovering the stations at Urban Food Market, here’s a quick tour of the space.
This fine dining restaurant is tucked away in a classy space closed off from the rest of the venue. At the helm is experienced chef Alessandro Di Maggio, who spent years cooking at top European restaurants and later was a chef for the Royal Princess Cruise Line. Here in Tallahassee, he’s creating superb yet reasonably priced gourmet Italian fare including cartoccio (seafood and pasta baked in parchment), lobster and shrimp ravioli stuffed with crabmeat and scallops and pork tenderloin wrapped with pancetta. Di Maggio’s cheesecake is a delight, light and creamy. (Forget Cheesecake Factory, Tallahassee).
The restaurant, which can seat 70 inside and another 40 on the patio, offers a chef’s table and it’s open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Contact 850-536-6843.
The man behind Digia, and Urban Food Market, is Mirko Di Giacomantonio, who grew up in a small coastal town called Tortoreto, located in Italy’s Abruzzi region. Di Giacomantonio sells his Atlanta-based brand of colorful pasta (by the pound or boxed) at a station here and also offers a hot pasta bar.
Di Giacomantionio calls his pasta bar “gourmet fast food.” As you move down the line, select your pasta. (I like the spinach pappardelle). You then have a choice of three vegetables, a protein, sauce and cheese and can watch your dish being prepared to order. Portions are generous for $9, $4 for kids. Salads are $6.
A longtime pizza maker, Ferruccio Cosenza was born in Bescia in northern Italy. As for the name Iolo, it’s a play on the Italian word pizzaiolo, which means pizza maker.
These are primo pies made with fresh vegetables and meats from the Becher butcher shop. You can also create your own Neapolitan pizza. Pies are oak-fired in an Italian brick oven for two minutes at 800 degrees, resulting in a crisp, smoky crust. Pizzas range from $10 to $17; other items include bruschetta, calzones, desserts, beer and wine. During concerts in the mall’s pavilion, Iolo serves pizza by the slice; otherwise order a whole, personal pie.
At a nearby station, Cosenza offers loaves of his fresh-
baked bread and paninis, usually with brie, tomatoes, prosciutto or speck (thinly sliced smoked ham) reminiscent of sandwiches savored on the streets of Italy.
Becher Meat & Provisions
Angeloni Maurizio’s butcher station features steaks dry-aged with Malaysian salts, chicken, pork, lamb and even rib rack of venison as well as a variety of Italian cheeses. You’ll also find cured Italian meats, including salami, prosciutto and sopressa.
The adjacent grill may be easily overlooked but it’s one of the nice surprises at the Market. A highlight is the grilled orange chicken (a half chicken for $10) cooked with slices of fresh garlic and sprigs of rosemary, served with fingerling potatoes. The lineup includes burgers or you can pick anything from the butcher station and get it grilled on the spot.
The gelato and coffee bar is run by Rudy Sacchet, whose family has been making gelato for over three generations in the Dolomites in northeastern Italy. He creates more than 20 flavors including unusual choices like lemon basil.
The large gelato bar also offers an assortment of coffee drinks and bakery items, including he cheesecake from +39.
The wine shop features rows and rows of gleaming bottles from small Italian wineries. If you love prosecco there are dozens of choices here. You can also have a seat at the small bar, which serves wine and craft beer
There are also shelves filled with olive oil, spices and other Italian gourmet products.
When you go…
Urban Food Market
Centre of Tallahassee
2415 N. Market St.; 850-895-1328.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 am. to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday.
+39 hours: lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday, Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Upcoming: A New Year’s Eve all-you-can-eat buffet for $30 per person; all you can eat and drink for $50.