My fellow food bloggers Walter and Sharon Sanders of SimpleItaly.com will really appreciate this next post:
I finally made it to Mario Batali’s wonderful world of fine Italian foods, Eataly, which opened this past August and is located right along Madison Square Park on 23rd st. When I first walked in to Eataly, the atmosphere screamed “Whole Foods.” The produce is seasonal for the most part and attempts to be local. They have some exotic produce that I was happy to see. I am going to have to utilize some of these special finds in my next dinner party! While in the produce section I found some lobster mushrooms, romanesco (the cauliflower that had sex with a Christmas tree), figs the size of tennis balls, pous pied, and Brussels sprouts on the stalk (which would make for a great autumn flower/table arrangement).
Making my way through the produce I entered the “Piazza”, which is an arena of little mozzarella, cured meat and wine stands all surrounding a central area with high tables designated for drinking wine and conversing. Exiting the “Piazza,” I went down the hall of cheeses, paninis, pastries, gelato, chocolates and espresso. The best deal I found on my trip to Eataly had to be the $5.50 Mortadella and $6.80 Funghi/Taleggio paninis amongst all of the overpriced Italian fare.
Then there are the aisles and aisles of pastas, $100 cans of sardines, sauces and spices (a bit like stopping at Epcot’s Italy). Mixed in with all of the pantry items are small restaurants, each specializing in a different theme, one for fish, meat and pizza/pasta. The biggest crowd hit was the fresh pasta that was displayed behind a glass case.
I am not convinced of Eataly as a whole, but I would come back for some of the produce and for the meat counter, which offers a great selection of offal cuts. A fellow FCI grad (who was repping “Bistro Mario Batali Crocs”) was working the meat counter and when asked what he does daily for the meat counter, replied, “I break large problems down into smaller problems.”
- Head Butcher
- Batali Crocs
- Piemontese Cruda (tartare) $8.80/lb
- Tripe $3.80/lb
- Bottarga di Muggine $99.80/lb and Wild Uni from Canada $30.00/box