“I would be broke if I lived anywhere near this place…” those were my first rational thoughts after absorbing the all-out assault on my senses upon entering Eataly for the first time. What Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich have built is nothing short of miraculous, and a true homage to Italian food and beverage. Eataly is located near Madison Square Park in the Flat Iron District of NYC, and carries virtually every Italian food and beverage product known to man, or at least this one. Not just prepackaged product, mind you, but fresh pasta (which you can watch being made), bread, pizza, a full on cured meat counter and even a fish market…
It’s all a little overwhelming, especially if you’re there at prime time, which is apparently any time after 11:00 am. In addition to the above mentioned items they also have an incredible cheese offering with many varieties of parmesan and a beer and wine selection to equal any Italian collection in the city.
There are also 5+ restaurants and cafes inside the restaurant; pizza and pasta, coffee, and a seafood, vegetable and appetizer area that’s first come first served and is mainly made up of counters and stand up tables. The three other restaurants, that do accept reservations, are the rooftop beer garden, Pranzo (their cooking school that also serves food) and Manzo, their homage to everything meat.
I didn’t have a ton of time, and already had dinner reservations elsewhere, so I was only able to pop up to the rooftop beer garden, Birreria, for a quick drink. The staircase leading to the roof is in the back of the store and a kind of hidden so you definitely want to ask. Aside from an awesome beer selection (they have partnered with the folks at Dogfish Head), they have fine Italian wine in cask, including Brunello and Barolo. In addition to the booze, they have some amazing looking appetizers, including cheese selections, house made sausages and a pork should dish I plan on ordering on my next visit!
I really felt rushed during my 2 hours in the store, and you need to make multiple visits to be able to try several things and take it all in; I could literally spend all day there and just take little naps in the back between meals. It has got to be up there with Chelsea Market and some of the green markets as a must for any food loving visitor or resident of the city. I definitely plan on making several return visits, but I’ll try to stick to the early hours to avoid the hordes!