Over Thanksgiving, I flew to New York to share Thanksgiving with my extended family. After the feast itself, I had a pretty lengthy list of places I wanted to try and dishes I had to taste before leaving the city. And when it comes down to it, Mario Batali's Eataly really deserves its own post. It is quite something--all 50,000 square feet of it.
Eataly is touted as the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world, and you certainly sense that upon walking in. The place is overwhelming in its variety, selection, and hungry crowds.
What Mario Batali and partners Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich (and a few others) have done with Eataly is successfully create a high-end marketplace that has distinct sections so it almost feels like a large, airy hall with its own pizzeria, fish market, cheese market, handmade pasta, fruits and vegetables, and wine and coffee bar. There are seven separate restaurants and they're trying to keep it that way, avoiding Eataly taking on more of a food court kind of vibe. We actually experienced this first-hand when my sister and I tried to finish our slice of pizza at the tables where you order your cheeses and meats. Apparently, so not acceptable.
The nice thing about Eataly is you can literally walk through and gawk and savor without purchasing a darn thing. It's an experience in and of itself. Besides our light lunch, we didn't actually buy anything (although there were dozens of opportunities to do so). I can certainly imagine if you lived in the neighborhood, it'd be a fabulous spot to pop in and pick up some homemade pasta or freshly pulled mozzarella. But I think on your first visit, it's all you can do just to take it all in.