New York City may be a long way from Boise, Idaho, but it’s certainly closer than Italy and is home to a place that definitely embodies the Italian charm.
I remember walking down a cobblestone street in Rome, a shop owner out sweeping off the front step, singing away like he was the happiest man in the world. And with a country full of beautiful architecture, a rich culture and wonderful wine and food, maybe he was.
Oh, and the gelato. I fell in love with gelato and could have – should have – eaten it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It’s taken me years to finally make it to NYC – a trip I have dreamed of equally as long. And even though I was there only just two full days – time to barely take a nibble of the Big Apple – I fell in love, much as I had with Italy.
While this city is chocked full of things to see and do, one thing I’d move right to the top of the list for foodie types is Eataly. Their web site doesn’t even begin to convey the scope of everything located under this roof but I’m not sure it possibly could quite frankly.
Eataly is a joint venture including Joe & Lidia Bastianich & Mario Batali. Mario grew up in Seattle and I can feel the influences of Pike Street Market on the mammoth 50,000 square foot Eataly as it feels much more intimate in the way that it is broken up into smaller artisan specific areas.
The first thing I saw as I entered was a coffee bar that flowed into a long wall of beans melding right into chocolates and beautiful pastries. I can walk right by all of that with purpose when there is cheese in sight.
And cases of cured meats.
I was already totally hooked and I hadn’t even scratched the surface.
The next corner I turned filled my eyes with beautiful produce – veggies, fruits and an amazing selection of what seemed to be every fresh mushroom there could possibly be.
And then I proceeded to get lost, much like I did on the streets of Venice, and with about the same carefree attitude.
There was fresh pastas of all cuts
and when I thought I’d seen every pasta shape possible, the aisles of dried pasta proved me wrong.
The bakery filled the air with the wonderful smells of crusty bread that begs for good olive oil.
Thank goodness they sell 97 different types!
There’s full meat and seafood counters as well and if all this looking at food makes you as hungry as it did me, it’s a good thing that there’s 7… yes, SEVEN, restaurants at Eataly. Everything from pizza to paninis, La Verdure that focuses on seasonal vegetables to Il Pesce which celebrates all things from the sea. Much like everything else about this place, I was overwhelmed by the choices, but the lure of the top floor restaurant with its glass roof perfect for soaking up some January sun was too much to resist.
This restaurant is named Birreria and while the name might suggest a beer bar, don’t be fooled.
The wine comes out of the barrels and the menu is far from pub fare.
There are almost no words for how happy I am at this moment.
As heavenly as all of this had been, I had really been anticipating the gelato. And yes… that’s my lipstick mark on the side of container of salted caramel because I just couldn’t wait to bring back every memory of Italy – pencil rubbings of the patterns of the Vatican floor and tired feet from sightseeing all day and art and museums and water bottles filled with bulk wine that flowed straight from barrels and church bells and some of the best food of my life.
Eataly is like a Disneyland for foodies – the tastiest place on earth, or maybe it’s more like a little slice of Italian heaven.