Eataly with La Scuola In New York City

What's It Like to Visit Eataly in New York City?

The first day my wife and I took the subway to the 23rd Street stop and ambled up past the shops on this rapidly changing street,we found Eataly, just a short walk from Madison Square Park In New York City, packed with eager visitors standing in line for at least a half-hour on a very hot afternoon.

We decided to wait until the initial tidal wave of Lidia and Mario admirers relented.

In the months since, we've gone back many times. The founders have been able to keep the enthusiasm high, and you will find shoppers threading through the aisles and diners being served during all its opening hours.

Mario Batali, a star on the Food Channel, and public television's Lidia Bastianich invested their talents in Eataly along with Joe Bastianich and Oscar Farinetti.

The draw of these superstars of Italian food was such that we used our better judgment and waited for a week day afternoon, ten days after the grand opening.

The accompanying video will give you a general idea of the pleasant and taste-tempting design of this marketplace/eatery, but if you are anywhere in shouting distance of New York City and like Italian food and/or cooking, this is a treat you will not want to miss.

Eataly's website, which wasn't ready for prime time when they first opened, is now a beautifully designed option for getting a feel for the store itself. La Scuola, Eataly's Cooking School is sending out class schedules via email on request at:

Lidia Bastianich is listed as "Dean" of the school and although you can hope, I wouldn't get up my hopes for anything more than a cameo appearance, if that.

Frustrated at not having been able to walk into Eataly on the day it opened, my wife, artist Deborah Julian, made the best of our fist trip by stocking up on fresh food while I tried not to annoy too many people while shooting video with my Flip HD.

Lidia Bastianich, luckily for me, became my wife's hero and, by way of PBS, teacher a few years ago. Now, we frequently eat like Italian royalty and shopping for Lidia-approved food while soaking up the atmosphere.

Eataly In New York City

This gourmet Italian emporium is laid out so that navigating the aisles and finding the island of your interest is easy, given the fifty-thousand square foot size of the place.

A produce section is the first area that welcomes visitors. The produce is excellent, but apparently for space reasons, basics such as lettuce are missing.

Turn left instead of proceeding straight down passed the greens, and you are rewarded with a colorful selection of cookware, the kinds of pots and utensils you'd certainly expect to see in Lidia's own kitchen. You'd expect the finest foods to be prepared in such beautifully designed containers.

On your right, find the first of several restaurants in Eataly. (See separate listing of all restaurants below.) This one is a bit more casual and, when we were there, far from crowded.

Ahead is a rack of cookbooks sufficient to make any amateur chef's heart pound.

Lidia's signature sauces head a few rows of grocery store style items with the familiar pastas stacked high.

Easy to miss here is an upper level dining area that occupies sheltered space along the wall, tables in a single row. I saw this area only because a family sitting up there caught my eye, and it was necessary to take a look around to find an entrance. By the look of the space overlooking the shoppers and diners, the experience alone looks worth the effort spent in finding it.

Shelves full of olive oil of many varieties capture your attention as you wander by another restaurant. Pass through an opening, and you find yourself back at the top end of the produce aisle, an area favored by presentations of fine wines to be served at the restaurants.

Again, restrictions on space at this intersection mean that the "agri" section has limited selections that, however, are of such uniqueness and great quality you may ignore the lack of variety.

I bought two containers of organic, green grass fed cow's milk yogurt that I have never seen anywhere before and found to have the exact qualities of flavor and texture I'd expect, having spent many days on my uncle's dairy farm as a kid and knowing what this stuff is really supposed to taste like.

Other carefully placed presentation areas concentrate on cheeses, meats, fish and bread.

The last major aisle, set smartly at the end to reflect the way people eat is populated with sweets, cookies, cakes and gelato.

At the end, a cafe serving Italian coffee was tempting. We preferred gelato, but this mild summer afternoon found the lines too long to wait in.

Eataly is a delight to visit, and we will continue to do so many times.

The adventure may continue for you after you finish your initial visit to Eataly and the restaurant has spurred new business activity all around it on 23rd Street. You'll be rewarded with useful discoveries if look around.

A Little Walk Through Eataly

Restaurants In Eataly

La Piazza–stand up food and drinks bar

Il Pesce–seated counter and tables, includes a raw bag

Le Verdure–another seated counter and tables stop, featuring Italian style vegetables

La Pizza & La Pasta–fresh and dried pasta, plus Rossopomodoro pizza imported directly from Naples. (New Yorkers may finally find out what real pizza is like!)

Manzo–a formal dining experience "celebrating meat from the United States."

So, what are you waiting for?

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What do you think? 4 comments

David Stone profile image

David Stone 2 years ago from New York City Author

It's all of that, Merry. Not easy to stand out in New York, with all the competition, but Eataly does it.

Thank you.

Merrci profile image

Merrci 2 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

It feels like I've been there with you after reading this. Restaurants like this are some of my fav memories of visits to NY. The smells must have have been amazing. It's irresistible to go to one to eat without picking up some fresh mozzarella or homemade cavetelli. Sweet!

David Stone profile image

David Stone 5 years ago from New York City Author

The best. Absolutely.

Milena 5 years ago

I love the yogurt too!!!!!

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