Asian Fusion: East meets West—and past meets present—at the top of a historic Shanghai building, where a rustic Italian restaurant treats diners to a seasonal menu, amidst layers of time and richly applied materials.
Enter Mercato and your first impression is its rawness. The rough concrete, weathered steel, and exposed ductwork might seem out of place in Shanghai, a city where fine-dining interiors tend to be blingy. Then again, it might seem less surprising for a restaurant with diverse international roots. Located on the sixth floor of the city's colonial-era Three on the Bund building, the Italian-country restaurant is owned by the French-born, U.S.-based restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten, a chef known for tailoring the mood of his dining rooms to suit the context of the food. It was designed by architects Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu, partners at the Shanghai firm Neri&Hu Design Research Office, a team that previously infused popular European and American aesthetics into such local establishments as Capo, Commune Social, and Table No. 1. According to Neri, Shanghai is becoming a vibrant, contemporary metropolis. Such a global city, it seems, requires a global look. And the “farm chic” touted in Mercato's press materials is one of the Western world's favorites. “One could argue it's what everyone is doing,” says Neri. “But the design is really a play on materials. It's not so much a stylistic thing.”