Bar Tulia-Mercato (BTM) is a restaurant opened in February 2021 at the Mercato in Naples, a mixed used commercial/residential development. BTM is the latest offering from chef/owner Vincenzo Batulia, who opened up the first of his many Naples restaurants in 2013.
BTM has a happy hour, which runs from 3-5PM daily at the bar. Here is their food menu for happy hour
|Happy hour food menu|
An excellent eggplant Caponata, one of the best I have had, is brought to your table before the start of your meal.
This is worth your while trying, even if you have no intention to order food and just come to BTM for a beverage. Highly recommended.
The first food item sampled from the happy hour menu was the Bar Tulia meatballs.
|Bar Tulia meatballs|
The meatballs were excellent and are made from beef, veal and pork. They are topped with tomato sauce, pine nuts, currants, ribbons of pecorino cheese and scallions. I would have ordered 2 servings but there was more to sample.
Crispy Brussel sprouts and sausage followed.
|Crispy brussel sprouts and sausage|
This was another good happy hour food menu item. They even had a take-away card with the recipe on it which I think speaks for itself.
|Crispy brussel with sausage recipe, Bar Tulia|
There is some great food made at Chef Tulia’s establishments. It would be nice if they would do more of these recipe cards. It would be fun to recreate some of their happy hour and regular dishes at home. Many high-profile chefs and restaurants routinely do this, even publishing recipes gratis online, without seeming to affect their bottom line. Perhaps one day.
We also sampled the Garganelli, an egg-based pasta with lamb Sugo, a sort of pureed ragu. This egg-based pasta works beautifully with the lamb sugo, enhancing the richness of this absolutely delicious sauce.
|Garganelli with lamb sugo.|
All of the pasta made at Chef Betulia’s establishments are made in-house, which works for me. I think one would be hard-pressed to find in-house made garganelli in many South Florida restaurants.
A caveat on the happy hour pasta offerings, they are half portions. This is a good thing, as it allows the diner to sample a number of the restaurant’s pasta offerings without going all in.
We finished off this visit with a pizza sampling, choosing the parma pizza.
Their pizzas are about 12″, and are the same size whether on happy hour or not. They are cooked under high heat in wood-burning pizza ovens. As one chef remarked to me a while back, “no wood, no good”. I think this is spot on. The parma pizza has prosciutto, mushroom and arugula on it and is very good.
|Cacio e pepe with bucatini|
Cacio e pepe means cheese with pepper, typically black pepper and pecorino, a hard, aged cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Bucatini is an interesting pasta, it’s really a thick hollow spaghetti. When dried in a straight line, buccatini can double as a staw for beverages. As mentioned before, all the pasta here is made in-house and I think one would be hard pressed to find fresh buccatini in Southwest Florida.
The cacio e pepe at BTM was very good. I think most would enjoy this. It’s very minimalist, which to me is Italian cooking at its best
Our second happy hour visit at BTM finished with another pizza, the moderna pizza, topped with ricotta, pancetta and Brussel sprouts.
This, like the parma pizza sampled on our first visit, was excellent and highly recommended. You will not be disappointed by the pizzas at BTM.
The food at BTM is very good and in my opinion, some of the best Italian and Mediterranean-influenced cooking in Naples. The price points, even during happy hour, are up there for Naples menus.
Before eating dinner here, you may want to dip your toes in the water metaphorically before you go all in for their other menus. Happy hour allows you to do that. A word to the wise, Costco has gift cards available for all of Chef Batulia’s restaurants for 20% off, or $100 dollars worth of dining credit for $80. This definitely brings your dining experience here, no matter what it may be, more affordable. As the happy hour at BTM runs from 3-5PM, perhaps a weekend sampling would work for most.
It’s a wrap for another post on Forks.
9118 Strada Place
Naples, FL 34108
Happy hour from 3-5 PM daily; All major credit cards accepted.
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.