New York has always been synonymous with the following: 1) Broadway; 2) Wall Street; 3) Ground Zero; 4) The Empire State Building; and 5) The Statue of Liberty.
And there is one more item: Food! New York, of course, is a great food capital where all the world’s cuisines meet. Which is why a trip to the Big Apple is never complete without devoting enough time for a real food trip, which I was blessed to do during my recent trip.
Out of the thousands of restaurants and markets, one place was on top of my to-do list: Eataly. There’s no typo there. Eataly is a food market/mall chain near the Flatiron Building in Manhattan. Opened in 2010, Eataly is owned by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe Bastianich of the Master Chef fame. Its first outlet was in Turin, Italy. When the Martha Stewart Show featured the place last year, I instantly knew that I had to go there. And I finally did!
We were there on a Saturday afternoon and it was packed with locals and tourists alike. Be prepared to navigate through the crowd and be prepared to wait for half an hour to be seated at their restaurants.
After all, the place seems to have succeeded in bringing the best of Italy all under one roof. It has a huge Italian grocery. The place also has several restaurants, which, Mario Batali says, uses the very same ingredients found in the place. All of the items are from Italy except for the fish and produce, which all looked very fresh.
I rarely get to see actual truffles and at Eataly they have a good selection of them. You will need to spend on them though. The black truffles below are 73 cents per gram.
Of course, Italian food would not be complete without cheese…
Pasta, anyone? Eataly has a wide selection of pasta noodles from Italy. And what I love even more is their very wide selection of fresh pasta. How I wish our hotel room had a kitchen for me to cook in! Next time I’m going to New York, I have to get a place with a complete kitchen. I’m very curious about the squid ink tagliatelle.
When making pasta, make sure you use only the best olive oil. Make sure to look for Sicilian olive oil. I had this at the restaurant with bread. While it’s sold for as much as $27 per bottle, it was the tastiest, most flavorful olive oil I have tasted in a long time.
A visit to Eataly is not complete without getting something to eat. We just loved their focaccia. The top winner for us is the one with eggplant and zucchini. The vegetables well marinated well in good olive oil.
The focaccia with parma ham and fresh mozzarella cheese was also very tasty, although I still liked the one with zucchini and tomato better.
The lasagna was such a great, rich reward after a whole morning of walking around the city. The noodles are thinner compared to store-bought noodles many restaurants would use. This allowed us to appreciate the flavor more. The toasted pine nuts are great added flavor.
I also had their pesto. The noodles were perfectly al dente — they had quite a bite without being too hard on the teeth.
My verdict on Eataly: it is certainly a must see when one goes to the Big Apple. The products are still pricey though and can be bought at a lower price in different places around the city and more specifically, in Little Italy. Of course, if you want the convenience of buying everything from one complex, Eataly is your place. You can also get Mario Batali’s books and the place screamed m-a-r-k-e-t-i-n-g of his books, which, ironically, you can buy at a more reasonable price on Amazon.
Make sure to eat in Eataly, and make sure you have time to really enjoy the place. It is an experience in itself in both taste and ambience. And, it’s a place where you can really eat as the Italians do– and I passionately share this philosophy. Their signs and postcards say it all: life is too short not to eat well. Hope you get to enjoy Eataly as much as I did. Looking forward to going there again during my next trip to NYC.
Eataly is at:
200 5th Avenue New York, NY 10010, United States
Telephone: (212) 229-2560