Eataly

I owe my love affair with Italy to the first trip I made there on my own when I was 15. It was the first country I had ever visited in Europe and I stayed with some family friends for spring break. Immediately, I fell head over heels with the language, the culture, and the food. I remember that the very first thing we did when I arrived was to drop in to the local pasticceria to buy some cheese focaccia. The minute we were back in the car, my friend Giovanni and I completely devoured the fresh, warm bread and I knew that I was about to embark on an experience that would change my life and spark my wanderlust forever.

That initial taste of focaccia al formaggio was exactly what sprung to mind when I entered Eataly, Mario Batali’s gourmet emporium. My eyes didn’t know where to settle as they tried to focus on the various departments of the vast warehouse space. In fact, the store is so comprehensive that it’s subdivided into separate restaurants that only focus on one type of food. There is Pesce (fish), Pizza and Pasta (obviously), Vegetale (vegetables), an oyster bar, an espresso bar, gelato shop, panino section, oh, and a rooftop beer garden thrown in for fun. And then… you have the main “piazza” strewn with high top tables where you can eat a bit of salumi with a glass of wine and make friends with your neighbors, a notion which is also so very Italian. I love it! With a commitment to serving and selling only authentic Italian products and food, Eataly really provides a true taste of Italy for those who are unable to jump continents. I heard that Mario Batali even had a specialty wood burning oven imported from Italy just for the space. The attention to detail and the focus on fresh ingredients has really paid off; this place is a goldmine.

Eataly has already become such a new New York landmark that every single time I have someone visit, I take them to the mega market as a right of passage. You have to see it (and eat it) to believe it. I have tried the panini, the gelato, the pastries, the salumi, the pizza and the pasta and I have yet to try anything that isn’t fantastic. The offerings are simple, but sooo fresh and that makes all the difference. The cacio e pepe is one dish that seemed so underwhelming on the menu until I tried it and couldn’t believe the depth of flavor in such a simple dish. An instant classic, but tricky to replicate (as I discovered at home).

If you can’t eat your way through Italy, no worries, eat through Eataly! It may take you just as long.

Cacio e pepe, which literally translates to cheese and pepper. It’s that simple.

I didn’t know so many types of pasta existed! This is just one aisle of about five.

…and I’ve never seen so many types of mushrooms all in one place!

I definitely want to buy a special cut of meat one day to make a phenomenal home cooked meal.

Give me some bread, some cheese, and some chocolate, and I’m a happy camper.

Dolci!

Baci! My absolute favorite Italian chocolate. Dark chocolate with hazelnuts. So good. And I love the wrappers with sweet messages inside.

Last but not least, gelato! By now, you should know that I will never turn down a cup or a cone of gelato.

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