Thursday, February 03, 2011


Like Italian Markets?? Prepare to be overwhelmed.

Not just overwhelmed..... blown away.

Eataly, the see it all, shop it all, eat it all Italian destination headed by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich isn’t just an ordinary Italian market…. it’s simply the greatest Italian market in America.

Back in the day, it was Balducci’s. I can remember trips to New York when my entire itinerary would be planned around trips to Balducci’s.... and I would always have the cab stop on my way to the airport to stuff a grocery bag full of goodies for the flight home.

But if Balducci’s was small and cozy… Eataly is Costco.

It’s so large, it takes nearly an hour just to get a feel for the place. Forget shopping. The space itself is so vast, you need time to get your bearings before you can really do some damage.

What makes it great?

Well, rule number one. Don’t open an Italian market unless the stuff is from Italy.

Not only are the items for sale (with the exception of a few sausages that Uncle Sam won’t allow in) from Italy…. cookies, pasta, tomatoes, sauces, truffles, chocolates, cheeses, etc…. many of the people in the store have made the trip over as well. And if you need cash?.... well the ATM machine is Italian, too.

How authentic? Take for instance, the pizza makers. Sitting at the bar watching chewy, thin crust pizzas fly into the wood burning oven is awesome…. but even better when you hear your pie maker practicing his English on the customers.

But what I love most about Eataly, is the ability to actually eat.

Most of the time, I wander into these places so hungry, I over shop. At Eataly, you can park at one of many destinations and nosh. This can save you big time at the cash register.

At La Piazza, the stand and snack enoteca, you can order artisan salumi and cheeses while leaning on tall marble tables. Paired with a glass of wine and you have the perfect snack to take the edge off.

At Il Pesce? A raw bar and fish house that serves daily seafood specials. Le Verdure focuses on local produce and fresh entrees.

La Pizza and Pasta makes arguably some of the finest pies in the city, and the pastas are rich and al dente, a true Mario signature. Both are terrific.

Of course, there is the desert hall, gelato bar, bakery, coffee house, butcher shop, wine store, produce market, house wares shop and culinary educational center…. but there’s not enough time or space to gush how terrific they all are.

The only negative here can be the crowds. This is a place you don’t want to pop into at noon on a Saturday. Weekdays are much better, and late lunches can reveal tables without a wait.

The other negative (to some) will be the prices. While somewhat inflated, the truth is that many of the items for sale here just can’t be purchased anywhere else. So as you see your bill climb, remember that a flight to Rome would cost you a tad bit more. By the time I got my groceries home, my mouth was watering so badly I just didn’t care anymore.

My advice. Go. Eat. Revel. Enjoy. New York is lucky to have such an amazing artisanal destination…. so grab your credit card and have a ball.

Carpé Diem!

200 Fifth Avenue
(at 23rd Street)
New York, NY 10010
Phone Number: 212-229-2560