At first glance, Il Mercato Café & Wine Shop looks like a neighborhood restaurant. At first bite, patrons know it's much more. This shoe box-size storefront in the alcove of a Hallandale Beach shopping plaza is serving dishes like duck leg confit, house-made tagliatelle and olive oil-poached shrimp with quinoa. And everything is under $20. Sommelier Michael Lynch and chef Emily Finne Lynch, a husband-wife team, opened the cozy, brick-walled café nearly three months ago. An unfinished, industrial ceiling and granite-top bar add a contemporary accent to the 36-seater (with another 25 seats outside).
The Lynches' motto -- "eat global, dine local'' -- is a perfect fit. She was born in Colorado, grew up in Bavaria learning about Italian food from her Sicilian stepfather, spent summers in Norway and attended a French culinary school in New York. They both worked in Manhattan restaurants (she at Eleven Madison Park and Danube, he at Keens Steakhouse and The Odeon), and later at Miami Beach's Table 8. The young, engaging staff provides warm and friendly service.
Michael Lynch sets the tone out front, making patrons feel welcome and answering questions about his Euro-centric wine list of 85 varietals, mostly under $100. Beer drinkers can choose from a lineup of handcrafted brews. The menu changes weekly and there a few daily specials, so even regulars find something new.