So last weekend, in the mood for a little adventure, we boarded the N train and headed for Mario Baltali’s Eataly. Located in the Toy Building at 200 Fifth Ave. between 23rd and 24th streets, Eataly is a sprawling 50,000 square foot market hall style emporium where Italian food lovers can shop for imported ingredients. Owned by Batali and partners Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich and Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, the market is modeled after the original in Tuscany.
Now I’m a big fan of food halls. Or at least one in particular. Harrods in London. A mecca for all things epicurean, I can think of nothing more delightful than spending a morning picking out delicacies to make a picnic of.
Eataly is a bit more congested and certainly not laid out in as linear a fashion as Harrods Food Hall, but it is every bit as entrancing. Especially if you’re fond of Italian food. The space is arranged sort of wheel like, with the five restaurants forming the inner part of the wheel and the various food departments at the end of the spokes. While finding your way around can be a bit of a challenge. It’s worth the effort, with an end result of some pretty spectacular food options.
Departments include pasta (fresh and dried), bread (organic), cheese, meat, seafood, produce, olive oil along with sauce and condiments, wine, coffee, beer and housewares. Boasting over 700 regional Italian wines, and over 400 diverse varieties of cheese, the market also offers Felipe Saint-Martin, head chef pastaio, from Piedmont and Organic stone-ground flour from Don Lewis’ Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corner.
We decided on a simple menu for our first time out. For our main course we chose agnoletti stuffed with pork and veal, as well as some quattro formagi agnoletti to mix in for variation. On the advice of a friendly patron in line, we also bought some of the butternut squash ravioli, topping them all with a brown butter and sage sauce.
To accompany our pasta, we bought lovely heirloom tomatoes and fresh bufala mozzarella to make a caprese salad. We already had olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but had we needed either we would have had a plethora to choose from. A little pan rustica finished off the meal. And I have to tell you everything was amazingly delicious.
Partly, I suspect, because of the fun we had ‘forming the menu’ as we walked amidst the fabulous foods of Italy—at Eataly.
Eataly, 200 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
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