The fair is done, and we’re on the precipice of the end-of-the-year openings. Maybe you missed some of the newer restaurants that popped up over the summer (I know I missed some of them). Anyway, I checked out two new spots—and can recommend them both!
Mercy Bar & Dining Room: Can anything succeed in the Le Meridien Chambers hotel? Jean Georges couldn’t succeed. D’Amico couldn’t do it. Neither could the health-focused Marin. But the chef at Marin, Mike Rakun (rhymes with bacon), bought the space and is doing a great job. Buffalo fish ribs? The menu says “don’t be scared,” and for $10, this is a fantastic appetizer. They look like regular pork ribs, but they’re pacu white fish, smothered in a zippy, tangy buffalo sauce. And they’re awesome.
There’s also a hot pastrami sandwich—”because Aric makes a good one”—for $14, and indeed, sous chef Aric Miech does make a good one. Fatty, with a nice peppery, spicy crust, this isn’t thin pastrami; it’s thick and chunky and slawed up. It’s fabulous, and $16. Entrees are nice, too. The $32 scallops dish was served with grits, succotash, and bacon—a nice combination of creamy and fresh, crispy textures, plus perfectly seared scallops.
In summer, crowds get split between cavernous dining rooms and spacious outdoor patios, which can make it feel empty and make you feel like you’ve made a bad choice of restaurant. The best way to combat this is by going to Mercy. It’s a fun, accessible, delicious menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Mercy, 901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MercyMpls.com
Delicata Pizza & Gelato: There aren’t a ton of restaurants in the Como neighborhood between the State Fairgrounds and Como Park. So, Delicata is in many ways my dream neighborhood restaurant. A great place for adults and an easy place to bring kids, too, it’s the Matty O’Reilly special—the brains behind Republic, Red River Kitchen, and Bar Brigade. O’Reilly has a knack for taking an existing restaurant space, giving it a spit shine, and creating something new. Chef and culinary director J.D. Fratzke’s fingerprints are all over this one, as are chef Noah Barton’s, who runs the joint.
Delicata has a lovely wine list, where everything is priced by the glass. Get a bottle for the price of three glasses (around $27 usually—you should just get the bottle, drink two glasses, and take the rest home). I liked, not loved, the pizza. The crust is softer than a thin crust but firmer than a Punch Neapolitan. I will say that I did like the squash pizza with bleu cheese and prosciutto quite a bit.
The starters have some real winners: The gigande beans are giant white beans in olive oil. I’m still craving the grilled artichokes in a lively romesco sauce ($7). And the fontina fondue (cheese dip), with a hint of giardinera (could use more) and crostini, is a $6 bargain.
If you live near Delicata, consider yourself lucky. If you live within a 20-minute drive, I wouldn’t hesitate to add this spot to your rotation.
Delicata Pizza, 1341 Pascal St., St. Paul, DelicataStP.com