Features NY Life — 09 September 2010
Authentic Style Italy Without Leaving New York

The newly opened (less than two weeks old) Eataly in the flatiron district is Manhattan’s newest, and perhaps most all encompassing food market in the city.  Eerily reminiscent of the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy, Eataly is based on the premise of freshly delivered and prepared, authentic Italian tastes and the rumored 50,000 square foot massive space plays host to a multitude of different food arenas.   And co-founder and celebrity chef Mario Batali, wouldn’t have it any other way.  LocalBozo.com showed up on a relatively calm night for the Italian cathedral and spotted former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and a sprinkling of some lesser known actors meandering around inside.  Needless to say, we were impressed by the sheer magnitude of such an undertaking as we take you inside Eataly.  Mind you, we could write about four pages of detail without even scratching the surface of everything offered inside, so keep that in mind.

The interior of Eataly reminds us of Ikea- just a mass of people with little to no direction since, quite frankly nothing like this has existed before, wanting to take in the sights and smells of every station.  But considering the new venture was only days old, we’ll give Eataly the benefit of the doubt that they will figure out a way to help customers find what they are looking for.  The place is designed for patrons to sample many of the different foods as they walk around in between the separate restaurants in the middle of the market inside.  The entrance at 200 Fifth Avenue opens into the huge gelato station with hundreds of different dessert and pastry options.  There is then a tasty panini station, where you can have a customized, and affordably priced authentic Italian panini prepared, and you are encouraged to find a seat nearby, or take a walk around the store nibbling on your sandwich.  Another nice touch are the countertops placed nearby, so you can stand and immediately eat whatever you buy, right there on the spot.

Keep walking forward for the packaged meats station- mouth watering cuts like prosciutto di parma and various cheeses are kept refrigerated for purchase- a dairy section, and a fresh fish market featuring some of the largest fresh fish and lobster we can ever remember seeing in person.  Interestingly enough, Eataly will also offer up travel agents to help arrange trips to “the other side” into regions that are world renowned for different food and wines.

Next up are the various restaurants, all of which are centrally located in the marketplace.  There’s Manzo, a meat restaurant with a full beef sushi bar (1 hour wait), Il Pesce a delicious seafood spot with less than stellar portions (30 minute wait), a vegetarian restaurant, a pizza & pasta restaurant (1 hour wait), and an Otto style wine bar with meat and cheese tastings at standing only tables- an awesome site to witness when walking the corridors.

Some other notables inside are a large rotisserie spit-area offering fresh chicken, an oyster bar, a butcher station for amazing looking, fresh cuts of meat, a semi-grocery with pastas, olive oils, and crackers, an enormous fresh bread station, which is next to the fresh pasta station, and a slicing station with a ton of distinct cheeses and cuts of meat from speck to pancetta.  And its very own station devoted solely to mozzarella, where the cheese is actually prepared in front of you.  Eataly also has a vegetable butcher who will clean and cut any of the fresh produce you purchase so that you can easily go home and begin cooking.   To accompany a beer and Italian drink station inside, a separate wine store is adjacent and fully stocked right next door.  They’ll also be hosting cooking classes to accompany the bookstore and cookware department and will be opening up a beer garden (gulp!) soon too.

Unfortunately, what I’ve described above simply cannot do this place justice.  Critics scoff at literally everything.  We’re just excited at the prospects of a new warehouse with so much appeal to so many different people, and the fact that we can order a fresh sandwich to go, and eat on the lawn at nearby Madison Square Park.  Although it’s a bit of a cliché, Eataly features something for everyone, and can match the exquisite tastes of high rollers and budget eaters alike.  It feels exactly like walking around a market in Florence- if Florence was filled with snobby New York City elitists.

-  Jane Van Arsdale

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(1) Reader Comment

  1. Eataly is AMAZING. It’s going to be my new go to place for delicious Italian home cooking. The fresh pastas and breads will be much needed as winter approaches!