I was recently in New York City visiting some family and friends, and eating amazing Italian food. New York is dirty, gritty, hot and humid in the summer, and full of supposedly “rude” people but I almost cried with happiness when I arrived at LaGuardia and all of its grimey glory. Although I love the produce and bounty that California has to offer, I am a Long Island girl at heart and I love me my Italian delis, chicken parm, bagels and kaiser rolls.
Even though I am far from Italian, I grew up with Italians and Italian food ranks up there with Japanese food when it comes to my ultimate comfort food. I actually never liked Italian food when I lived in Japan. That was until I moved to Long Island at the age of 11 and took one bite of spaghetti with marinara sauce at La Parmigiana in Southampton, New York. I still remember the amazing revelation I had about how simple and yet incredibly delicious pasta can be. I’m tearing up just thinking about it. So when my friend Georgia, with whom I’ve been eating delicious things since we were teenagers, came all the way from Montauk to see me in the city and suggested we go to Eataly, I was game! Also, she’s part Sicilian.
I had heard of this new venture by Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich but I did not expect the scale and size of what I experienced as Eataly. I was completely overwhelmed! Eataly is a large marketplace full of everything anyone would need to cook, eat, and experience Italian food. It has produce, meat, fish, pasta, prepared foods, bread, focaccia, restaurants, desserts, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and cookware. Eataly’s website has a manifesto that declares at the very top “We’re in love with food!” Me too!
First, we had some delicious, rich espresso at the Caffe Vergnano made for us from a big shiny machine that the barista told us cost more than a new car. Then we had lunch at La Pasta & Pizza, one of Eataly’s restaurants, where we had some crusty bread dipped in some rich, flavorful olive oil, Bjorn had linguine vongole, Georgia had an amazing eggplant lasagna and I had the pasta special, orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. Yum!
After lunch, we wandered around the marketplace in awe – checking out their salumi and cheese counter, fresh mozzarella makers, seafood counter, butcher, bread counter, olive oils, fresh and dried pasta, and beautiful produce including a giant selection of dried and fresh mushrooms. I thought of how Yuan and Little Miss would be hyperventilating with happiness at the sight of the cheese and salumi counter.
Fresh Pasta counter
Butcher counter that had all sorts of meat, pork, veal, sausages, rabbit, various poultry.
Not your average meat counter.
Refrigerated cheese section
Mushrooms! There were just as many dried varieties.
We spent a whole afternoon there, bought some fresh pasta, olive oil, cheese, fresh mozzarella, and bread for dinner and hit the Gelateria on the way out. Eataly is located at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue right where Broadway intersects 5th near the famous Flatiron building. It is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you are ever in New York City and you love Italian food, you must go.