Italian-style farmers market now open Saturdays at Nicola
Since moving to the States in 1999, Nicola and Speranza Bedalli longed for the open-air markets they knew so well in Siena, Tuscany-people browsing flowers, dried foods and handmade sauces while sipping and snacking. So the owners of Nicola Restaurant + Bar have created their own spin on an Italian farmers market at their Upper Arlington eatery, now open every Saturday.
From 9 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, Nicola Mercato takes over the restaurant's patio. The idea, Nicola says, is that almost everything used in the restaurant's kitchen is available to the public. This includes a slew of house-made and Italian-imported ingredients. Select made-to-order dishes from the restaurant menu are served, too, and can be boxed for takeout. Nicola recommends calling ahead if you're interested in a specific dish or item.
Start your visit with a little morning drinking-Prosecco, sangria and bellinis are among the offerings. Bottles of Italian wine are also open for tasting and purchasing. Next, grab an early morning bite, or prepared lunch or dinner for later. House-made fettuccine, pappardelle and kale ravioli are sold, along with accoutrements such as house-infused honey, vinegar and olive oil. (If you leave with anything, make sure it's some of Nicola's specialty Tuscan-style stuffed pasta.) If you need eggs, veggies, flowers or herbs, those are for sale, too. Many of the veggies and herbs are grown in the restaurant's courtyard garden from Italian seeds.
Lastly, cap off your trip with one of Nicola's house desserts, such as panna cotta or tiramisu, and a cup of freshly made cappuccino or espresso.
"I really like to make new items for the mercato," Nicola says. "I have a ravioli di branzino special on the menu right now because I have fresh fish, so you can get that at the market. It's the difference in my market-that you can see what we use [in the restaurant] and take that home for yourself."