Last Wednesday, my friend, Deirdre Corley, and I decided to put our freelance hours to use by hitting up Mario Batali's new Italian behemoth, Eataly. "All in the name of research!" we decreed while trying to figure out the best way to eat our way through the place on a limited budget. I can tell you right now that our wallets (and tummies) were extremely happy.
Now, I know there's been a bit of a backlash (this being New York, of course) that Eataly is too big and brash. That it's a vanity project. That it's nothing more than a gimmicky mega-store ready to rob your soul. Really people, this is midtown. Aren't we used to this by now? Also, who doesn't want freshly made mozzarella, interesting varieties of pasta you can't find in this country, and a vegetable butcher who'll cut your stuff for free? Yeah, maybe it all sounds a little "boo-zhee." Maybe you don't care about silky chocolate gelato or honey robbed from a eucalyptus tree. But maybe you don't know you want this stuff yet. Maybe you just need to try. it. Trust me when I type this: you do. You really, really do.
Upon opening the heavy metal doors on 23rd Street (or 5th Avenue or 24th Street--this place wraps around the block), you're greeted by bright lights and a culinary wonderland explosion. There are lobster mushrooms mingling with morels, white asparagus pointing at eggplants; there's a cheese man who'll tell you what you want based on what you like, and a vegetable butcher waiting for you to throw her some artichokes. If you're overwhelmed at this point--we were--you can take a breather at any one of the dozen standing tables next to the mozza man and order yourself a glass a wine and some freshly sliced cheese and meat. We would have done this if Martha Stewart hadn't been taking over the place with her camera crew and whatnot. Thanks for nothin', Lady M!
Once you're out of the cheese n' veggie area, you're confronted with more dairy delights to your right as well as mini desserts behind glass, a panini station, honey and jams galore, a gelateria, and the Lavazza coffee bar beyond that which seemed to be packed on our way in and out.
Lots more after the jump...