I have a strong affinity for large indoor food markets (a bit odd, I guess, but there could be worse things…). They’re like malls, but with fewer teenagers and more things you can eat!
Prime examples include Chelsea Market, Reading Terminal Market, Pike Place Market or Mitsuwa Marketplace, but basically, if it’s big and filled with delicious things, I’ll be visiting. Given this, you can imagine my excitement when EATALY (map!), Mario Batali‘s “Italian culinary funhouse”, opened up last year.
Located in the Flatiron District, Eataly is an impressive 50,000 sq. ft. of all things dedicated to chowing down and loving it. Here, you can shop for any manner of ingredients as well as enjoy the complete and cooked versions at various restaurants. There is so much to see, taste, and smell, you could seriously build a day trip around this place. Sure, it gets crowded on weekends, but it takes more than a few dozen elbows and poorly positioned mini-shopping-carts to keep me from snagging the groceries or dishes I want.
My first favorite thing about Eataly is its massive selection of high quality goods. The prices are reasonable for what you’re getting, and I’ve found stuff here that would be tough to locate elsewhere (really, fresh wood ear mushrooms?? hallelujah!).
There is a department for every genre, and every time I turn around, there’s another area of the store to be explored. Go browse around and stare at stuff: veggies, meat, cheese, beer, pasta (dry/fresh), bread, canned/preserved, cakes and pastries, coffee/espresso, seafood, rotisserie, charcuterie, beer, etc. It’s a chef’s paradise, really.
My second favorite thing is the menu for actual eating. With casual restaurant sections devoted to seafood (Il Pesce), veggies (Le Verdure), and pasta & pizza (La Pizza & Pasta, fittingly), there is something for everyone.
If sitting down isn’t your thing, you can also go to La Piazza, a stand-up eating space to get your wine, salumi, and cheese plate on. Give it a try, you’ll feel so Europe.
There is also Manzo, a formal dining space for a little more haute, and various options for to-go treats and meals.
On one occasion, DH and I went to Il Pesce for some tasty fruits of the sea, and were enthralled by the Fritto Misto alla Ligure (assorted fried seafood Ligurian style):
And recently, we went to La Pizza & Pasta for some satisfying carbs:
Ok, so let’s talk about the fettuccine for a second. This dish was nothing short of mind-blowing. If you can eat only one thing at an Eataly restaurant, you have to eat this. The oxtail ragu? AMAZING. The flavor and texture made each and every bite worth savoring, and I was absolutely brokenhearted when I finally had to look back at an empty plate.
To temper the sadness, of course, we had to get gelato. My top choice remains the fig and chocolate combo, although the fig flavor is seasonal. Still, WHERE ELSE can you ever hope to find FIG-flavored ice cream?? Again, amazing.
So that’s Eataly. Now there’s another reason to head to this neighborhood other than Shake Shack and Home Depot, and it looks like a BEER GARDEN is opening up on the roof in the spring. Even more to look forward to.