When I was in New York earlier this week I stopped in to have a gander at Eataly. This 50,000-square-foot Italian gourmet center opened at 200 Fifth Ave. in the Flatiron District a few weeks ago. It’s a market filled with stalls offering everything from fresh pastas and mozzarella made before your eyes to pedigreed Italian beef and gelato. But it also contains three distinct restaurants (one specializing in pizza and pasta, another in fish and vegetables, and a third in beef and other meats. If you want to grab a panini or a coffee, you can find free seating, as well. All throughout are placards with foodie aphorisms — “don’t overdress raw vegetables” — and places to stop and learn about Italian artisanal food products.
Eataly has been getting gobs of press — surely on account of the lavish press party that was thrown by its American partners, restaurateurs Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich.
Some of the early reports made it sound like Eataly was Batali’s baby, which made me think: “Eataly? Dude, seriously?”
It seems like a trite, punny moniker for a serious project. Why not call it Mangialand or Yummy Pastaville?
Then I found out that this is the first American outpost of an already well established mini-chain of Eatalys in Italy and Japan. The pun must sound better to Eatalian ears.
Whatever, I did enjoy roaming the aisles, even if I didn’t have time to stop for a bite of anything beyond a cup of excellent fig gelato.
The handmade pastas really looked fine and, as did the breads and the amazing assortment of dry goods.
I also got a gander at my first $62 bar of chocolate (left). It was large enough to feed the Brady Bunch several times over.
It reminds me of some of the great European food halls I’ve visited in the past, with its mix of gourmet stalls and dining options.
You should check this place out next time you’re in New York, and let me know if you try one of the restaurants.