Words almost cannot describe Eataly. After about ten minutes of walking around in this place (actually more like aimless stumbling), my husband and I turned to each other with glazed expressions, and claimed over-stimulation. So let me tell you a little about it.
Eataly is a concept that first originated in Turin, Italy in 2007. Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti converted an old vermouth factory into type of mega-market focused on fresh foods, dining and culinary education. Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, and Joe Bastianich partnered up and opened one in New York City near Madison Square Park in 2010. Since then, other locations have been opened in Rome and Tokyo, and one will be opening in Chicago in the fall of next year. (Can we get a fist-pump on that one?)
So what is it exactly? Well, in New York, it is 50,000 square feet of a "grocery store with tasting rooms" according to Batali. Shelves and shelves of all things Italian like sauces, olive oils, spices, dried pasta, cookies. But intermixed with the non-perishable items are stations with fresh foods. Meats, cheeses, fish, vegetables, pasta, DESSERTS, even a fresh mozzarella station where you can watch the guy making it. The items range from your basic organic chicken breasts for example, to the exotic and bizarre like quail eggs and sea urchin.
I saw chef-looking people bustling in to buy ingredients for their dinner preparations that evening. I saw locals with their business attire sitting with their co-workers having some antipasti. Everyone imbibing in wine. The place was PACKED and in very good spirits...standing room only. Here are some pictures I took.
Scattered throughout the market there are actual sit-down restaurants that have different features. Fish, or beef, or pizza and pasta...they are basically serving what they sell in the market. And when you are in Italy (I mean Eataly) you must eat pasta, at least in MY mind. My husband was annoyed at the 45 minute wait for the pasta tables, and would have been just as happy to sit immediately and eat fish, but I was determined.
When we finally sat down, a very friendly retired couple from Arizona started talking to us, and explained they were going to attend a cooking class at Eataly the next day. I commented on how delicious their pasta looked, and the gentleman let me have a taste. I was sold. I had the Spaghettoni al Rancetto (what you see below) and my husband has Tagliatelle al Ragu di Monzo (Short Rib Ragu) with a couple glasses of wine.
This place was pure insanity, but also a feast of the senses for anyone who likes to eat. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you don't have time to eat there, pop in and take a look. It is an experience!
200 5th Avenue
Hours vary for retail store, restaurants, coffee shop and information booth