Finally, a new kind of food is available at UBC! Having been a student at UBC for a number of years, I have tried the majority of the food options on campus and nearby (The Village, Wesbrook Village, 10th Avenue). There is not anything that I absolutely love on campus, nor there is anything that I absolutely hate; it is more similar to a “time to fill the stomach” solution. Of course, I was excited to know that a new restaurant was opening up, even though it is still run by UBC Food Services, at least they are trying something new this time! Yes, I consider most of the cafes which they operate to serve “similar” types of food because I can not really tell the difference; it is mostly a rice or noodle dish in those elongated compostable containers that are very oily. Glad to see they are trying to be creative by opening eateries like Mercante and the Hungry Nomad food truck.
The UBC Food Services Website description of Mercante:
“Mercante is UBC’s new authentic Cucina Italiana! It features traditional Italian pastas, salads, soups and of course pizzas cooked in our authentic stone hearth oven. Also offered are Italian-themed pastries, desserts, as well as hot and cold beverages. Treat yourself to an authentic Margherita pizza, an Insalata Caprese, and perhaps a Tiramisu for dessert. Take Out is available. Recycling/Composting | Mug/Container Discount
LOCATION: Ponderosa Commons (6488 University Boulevard)
HOURS: Monday–Friday 7:45am–8:00pm. Closed weekends and holidays.”
Mercante is located inside the new Ponderosa Building on campus. My first time in this new building.
Seating is limited, but creative. Besides this square communal table, there is another longer table on the other side of the eatery. Customers order at the counter and wait for their order to be called. I liked the “wooden” and clean design. There were much more Pizza options than Pasta options; this is not surprising as you will soon find out.
We decided to get a Gnocchi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnocchi) and a pizza. The Gnocchi shown is actually one dish; we just split it into two containers. For around 6, this was a decent price for UBC standards. It was pretty decent and the dumplings were soft and chewy. I think the ingredients were mostly potatoes; the cheese was strong in this one. It might be a bit oily though. Very filling item. Next up, the main attraction.
I just noticed this huge @$$ oven when I was about to leave. This is where they cook the pizza; painted in bright red, this definitely is a “looker”.
We got the Prosciutto Pizza for 9.5 (there was another Italian name, but it has escaped my mind). I could smell the aura of the pizza entering my nostrils; would this be better than pi R^2 in the SUB and other chain pizza restaurants? I did not have much expectations for food at UBC, I would be happy if it was even comparable. Boy was I surprised! Taking the first bite, the bread was soft, yet crispy on the bottom, with the colourful toppings and the crispy and tasty prosciutto augmenting the taste. The amount of toppings was just right. This is definitely a style of pizza that I do not have often (I am just use to Hawaiian, Pepperoni, Cheese, etc. from places like Pizza Hut) and I like it!
Only thing is that the crust was a bit burnt as you can see in the photo.
There are two options for the pizza, either eat-in or take-out. If you go for take-out, they give you a pizza box (environmentally-friendly one). The box is slightly smaller than regular pizza boxes which I thought was really cute. Considering how busy it was when I went, UBC students seem to agree with me that this is a great and affordable new place to eat on campus!