Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New York Weekend - Eataly

Walking into Eataly last weekend is how I imagine my 10-year-old self would have felt walking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, if it really existed. I always compare Italian import markets to BuonItalia in Chelsea Market, but Eataly is like BuonItalia x 1000. No offense B.I., I still love you.

Eataly is the brainchild of Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Oscar Farinetti. The 50,000 square foot Italian food emporium is across the street from Madison Square Park, and just opened last week.

Upon entering on 23rd street, we first walked through the produce section.

As we were slowing walking through and taking everything in, a guy from Baldor cut open a fresh fava bean pod and gave me one. Yum! And take a look at these mushrooms:

Next we came upon a big open area with tall tables to stand at, and waiters/waitresses serving meat and cheese plates, raw bar items, and wine. Right by the tables were the fresh mozzarella counter, and this:

I think next year for my birthday I just want a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. There's nothing better than eating a fresh piece just cut from the wheel...and did that guy give us samples? Of course! Soft and crumbly with little crunchy spots of salt...mmmm.

We then took a right past the tall tables and came upon a couple aisles of meat and cheese. So many wonderful kinds of cheese. I must have been walking through there with a huge grin on my face, looking like a fool. Cheese makes me so happy. Not to mention these guys:

Past the meat and cheese are the coffee and sweets. A tiny little espresso bar with room for a few people to stand, rows and rows of chocolates and candy and jams, a pastry counter, a gelato counter, and past that a bigger coffee bar with some tables.

Making a u-turn, we walked back past the tall tables to take a look at the butcher and seafood counters.

It was a really beautiful display - Manila clams, langoustines, in-shell scallops, huge shrimp...not to mention all the filets of fish in the other counter.

Near the fish and meat was the pasta department. Rows upon rows of dried pasta, an unbelievable variety of types and shapes I had never seen before.

There was also a counter with fresh pasta and ravioli priced by the pound. There were a couple guys working with this big, crazy ravioli maker that had huge rolls of pasta dough being cranked through a machine and little raviolis popping out the bottom on a mini conveyor belt.

And of course, there's a bakery too.

I didn't even get pictures of the Italian craft beer section, the kitchen supplies and dishes, or the Kartell chairs and lamps they also sell - the same chairs used in the restaurants. Oh yeah, did I mention there are restaurants inside? 7 of them! And a rooftop beer garden opening in November.

Ok, time to eat! We went back to the tall tables. It was a little busy. Just a little.

After some stalking and careful maneuvering, we got a table. We ordered a meat and cheese plate, as well as a separate order of housemade mozzarella and prosciutto.

You can barely see it in the picture, but the meat and cheese spread comes with another little plate of honey, figs, and candied orange peel. Pecorino + honey = perfection. The mozzarella was amazing, drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Our trip to Eataly was a really amazing experience. Except, ughhh...why does this place have to open when I don't live in New York anymore? All the grocery items, except for some of the beers, are imported from Italy. It's as authentic as you can get. Eataly really lived up to all the hype...actually it more than lived up, it totally exceeded any expectations I had walking in. Just when I thought it couldn't possibly get any better...look who showed up!

WHAT?! Anthony Bourdain?! We had perfect seats to see Bourdain waiting in line to buy some cheese with his wife and daughter. I kind of felt like a stalker taking pictures, so I snapped just a couple. But then...Mario Batali came over too. Worlds were colliding. And we were all legitimately freaking out. So Peter grabbed my camera and got a couple more shots.

Batali left for a minute, and came back to present Bourdain with a meat and cheese plate.

Does it get any better than that? Well done, Eataly, well done.

200 5th Avenue, New York NY (between 23rd and 24th Streets)


  1. I enjoyed your pictures much more than my actual visit on Sunday. Way too crowded for me, but glad you enjoyed and had a celebrity sighting!

  2. haha, thanks! the celebrity sighting was pretty awesome :)

  3. That's so exciting Katherine! I loved reading the story!