Urban Market just opened last week at the Tallahassee Mall. The space is an open space with different areas that specialize in Italian food and drinks. One area has gelato and coffee, one has pizza, one has wine, one has fresh pasta, one is a butcher, one has panini and salumi, and one is the fine dining restaurant called +39 (the area code for Italy).
The place is run by real Italians, which already tells you a lot. Mirko is the owner, Rudy makes the gelato, Davide knows all about wine, Alessandro is the chef of the restaurant and I still need to meet the pasta chef and pizzaiolo. As you know me I am a picky Italian eater when it comes to Tallahassee. I have already reviewed places like la Moda and I still have to find a good pizza in town.
Urban Market does not disappoint. I had the pizza and it is the best pizza in town. It is very authentic, fresh and not greasy and prices are reasonable too. They also have a pizza with Nutella which was very trendy back at home in Lucca. The portion for me are good, not too big, you can easily share two pizza with two/three people.
The panini are also really good, the bread is made fresh (you can buy it) and the ingredients range from mozzarella to prosciutto crudo. In a strange way if you are Italian the panini taste like a panino you buy at the Autogrill in Italy. If you are Italian you will understand.
+39 restaurant is a cozy and sophisticated restaurant inside Urban Market. The menu is simple and curated by the chef Alessandro who grew up and studied between Tuscany and France and worked at the Hermitage in Las vegas. I had the calamari fritti and the gnocchi al ragu toscano. The calamari were perfect. They were crispy but light. They also came with a grilled big piece of calamari which reminded me of grilled fish you eat in Sardegna Italy. It was delicious and very authentic to Italian cooking. The gnocchi were awesome. The ragu is indeed something I would eat in Lucca at friends or restaurants. I would have liked to have tordelli instead of gnocchi but I know I can't just have everything from Lucca!!
The pricing are very reasonable. The gnocchi was at around $17. If you think that when you go to Panera you ended up paying the same price (drink + food) I would say this is a much better option. +39 sits in competition with other restaurant like Cypress, Sage, Cool Beanz, adding some variety to a very saturated fine dining experience in tallahassee. Have you ever noticed how all restaurants in town share the same items?
Room for improvement: the service of the restaurant needs work. I am sorry to say and I know it can be improved. The staff is very young. I almost felt bad just because they were kids and probably nervous but they need definitely continuous feedback. I received my wine while I was eating my antipasti and he did not know where to put the glass; when he served the pasta he did not ask if we wanted parmigiano cheese. He left and had to ask him to bring some. We had Olivia with us and he did not bother to ask if we needed a glass or plates for her. We had to ask to find a glass, which took a while. Just little things that in Italy are basic when you go to a restaurant. As I said since the restaurant is new this is easy to be fixed. There was an older gentleman who brought our antipasto and he was really professional. One last minor thing, I would have loved to have water in a bottle on the table instead of having a single glass with ice (I know, I know, but I am Italian) and would have loved to have Tuscan bread, a more rustic and simple option than small dinner rolls. This is just my preference.
Overall, I am hooked for Urban Market. I went there every day since Thursday. It is a very family friendly place and the food is great. They finally brought a little Italy to Tallahassee and can't seem to stop talking about it. Let me know when you go and check it out!