Set within the newly revitalised Pasaje Comercial Parián, originally constructed in 1926 and once serving as the first market in Mexico City‘s lofty Colonia Roma neighbourhood, Polpo is a beautiful bar and restaurant that is set to write a new chapter in the history of this storied building. Having been given new life in 2020, under the guidance of Alfonso de Garay, the discreet renovation transformed the central gallery, with creamy terrazzo and grey cobblestones adorning the space that now invites a collection of hospitality and design businesses to grace its ground floor.
Helmed by noted Italian chef, Marco Carboni, Polpo is one of those hospitality establishments, and mirrors the diverse inspirations found within El Parián’s captivating façade. Designed by local architect Sofía Betancur, with construction work from M74 arquitectos, Polpo La Roma pays homage to the rich traditions of both Mexican and European markets, the restaurant boasts an open kitchen and two bars that are reminiscent of the cozy tapas spots of Barcelona or Madrid, as well as the coffee-and-amaro establishments that can be found throughout Carboni’s home country.
Looking to encapsulate the Italian essence of the client, while remaining true to the spirit of Mexico, Betancur strikes this delicate balance via the use of local materials, many deeply ingrained in the urban tapestry of the city; the colour palette soaked in rich, wine-like hues and evoking the ambiance of candlelight and the warmth of Barolo.
Embracing the subdivided layout of the original space, the designer brings warmth and character to each area throughout the restaurant: a U-shaped bar encircling an open kitchen; two standing bars at each side decked in a claret-colored terrazzo that is widely used in Art Deco buildings throughout the city; a space for glass cabinets which are adorned with an array of cured meats, wines, and cheeses; and a hidden prep and storage area. That’s not to mention the indoor-outdoor, where the restaurant spills out into the Pasaje and evokes the life and spirit of long European nights.
Aside from the soul of European eateries, Polpo’s host country is embraced throughout: a copper counter, hewn from the abundant mines of Mexico’s northern deserts, wraps around the open kitchen; work surfaces feature grey slabs of Santo Tomás marble, a material found on the city’s pavements and Metro platforms and sourced from the nearby state of Puebla; wooden accents in tzalam, akin to the walnut-like wood found in the Yucatan peninsula, echo throughout the distinct spaces.
A fusion of Mexican and European inspirations, with great food, drinks and times at its core, Marco Carboni’s Polpo is an inspired anchor for La Roma’s beautiful Pasaje Comercial Parián. A triumph of vision and execution, Sofía Betancur and M74 arquitectos have conjured a space that exudes a unique spirit that brings together the best of all that has inspired it.