I finally went to Eataly. I don't know why it has taken me this long but I have been sitting on this gift certificate since Christmas. It was three of us, my husband, Nick, our foodie friend, Joe and myself. We walked up bustling 5th Avenue from 14th street and saw the Eataly logo when we reached 23rd St. We circled the building a bit before finding the main entrance. What can I say about this enormous Mario Batali brain child that the hype has not already? Go, definitely go there, because words do not describe this massive, remarkably designed carnival of food. Our first impression once inside left us daunted by the size of this market and the crowds of people at every station. This was an amusement park for wide- eyed adults complete with lines that snaked around the counters. We turned to a huddle to hash out a game plan. We were standing in the middle of what is called The Piazza. In Italy, a piazza is usually in the center of town and is commonly known as a gathering place for friends and neighbors with bars, possibly restaurants and gelaterias. This piazza was a sort of restaurant where strangers stand together at tall rectangular tables awaiting table service. Waiters were whizzing by me and my eyes kept falling on cheese plates, rosy, marbled charcuterie and wide bottomed wine glasses. I suggested we have a little tasting right there in the piazza first, then we can do some shopping.
|Nick and Joe picked the wine as it is more their area of expertise than mine. No complaints here. The Gavi del Cumune Di Gavi was a nice choice to go with this plate.|
|Their produce selection was very interesting. We found lots of new varieties of vegetables in particular.|
There is still many aspects of Eataly we did not get to on this first visit. The meat and cheese selection are what stand out first. I have heard rumors that the station to head for is really the Verdure station. It is not crowded because the local tourists don't seem to be climbing over one another to get to the asparagus spears.
|I dolci! The canollis were slightly different than the classic Italian-American traditional we are used too. I loved the lighter, thinner pastry and orange flavored cream, Nick prefers the original from our local Brooklyn places like Settepani.|
At the end of our day we had a lovely dinner from our recent purchases.
|Pork Cheek Ragu over freshly made Taglietelle|
|Mohagony Clams in Butter, Wine and fresh Herbs|
The three of us spent the rest of the evening debating over whether we felt Eataly was really worth the hype. We listed places where the charcuterie met the level of quality we had at a more reasonable price. We noted that the experience did not open our eyes to new and innovative ways to look at food. We noted the same type and quality of products are available at smaller places like Colluccio's and Buon Italia at better prices. That being said, this discussion was had between mouthfuls of simply prepared delicious food because the ingredients were of the utmost quality. I will say it again; Eataly is absolutely a gastronomic amusement park for adults complete with high prices, long lines, and crowds. But who hasn't been to an amusement park, right? And we will most definitely go again.