Chicago’s “little” Eataly is not so little, but in comparison (so I’ve heard) to it’s big brother in New York, it is. I really hope heaven is like Eataly. I hope it’s like Eataly… A LOT… packed with all my friends, family, and all the other really great people you’d expect to find there. Because here on Earth, Eataly is all about eating, drinking, shopping, and great conversation. It’s all there. You take a little shopping bag, order an espresso, fresh pressed juice, or a glass of wine and leisurely stroll through two floors of pure Italian indulgence.
Eataly is Chef Mario Batali’s creation and he has out done himself. Dotted among the isles of endless chocolate, coffee, sleek kitchen gadgets, fresh handmade pasta, shelves of hardback cookbooks (I could spend hours just there), organic produce, wine, artisan cheeses, and grass fed beef, there are various specialty dining counters. These counters are like mini restaurants that are intermingled with the finest grocery store imaginable. I kid you not. You pick a section and sit down and order small plates or a generous entrée. If you like sitting at the bar, you can watch them prepare the meals right there.
Or if you prefer, there are plenty of tables where you can enjoy your meal away from the heat. Below to the left is the Fritto area, far back in the middle is an olive oil tasting surrounded by at least 20 varieties of olive oil, and to the right is a wine bar.
This is what Jerry had for lunch… The Agnolotti del Plin con Sugo d’Aristo house made meat filled pasta with veal reduction. Hubba hubba.
We were sitting at the Pasta/Pizza station (had a complete carb-cycling session here). I had the Ravioli di Zuccz house made ravioli filled with butternut squash, ricotta, brown butter and sage. The Agnolotti was out of with world divine and the ravioli was very good, a little on the sweet side. Our server did give me fair warning, but I start drooling, my eyes cross, and I lose myself when it comes to brown butter and sage. I had to get it and I was not disappointed.
After lunch, we continued our stroll upstairs around Eataly’s fish market and cheese market.
When you take the escalator up that’s where you’ll find the dining stations for shellfish, pasta, cheeses, pizza, vegetables, frittos (fried things), and a tap room (Yes, they make their own beer there! Heaven, guys, seriously.) As well as the fish market, cheese, meats, olive oils, etc. It goes on and on and on.
More cheese… glorious cheese!
Behind glass you can watch them make and slice mozzarella.
On the main level, is where you will find gelato, coffee bar, juice bar, sandwich station, and pastries plus all the groceries on that level. This place is to die for! I can’t wait to go back!!!
Check out the pastries…
As we were leaving, I struck up a conversation with the young lady behind the register. She’s been working there two years part time and really enjoys it. When I asked her what she liked about it the most, without hesitation she said, she felt like managers (and that included the higher ups in the corporate levels) really care about their employees as people. She told me Eataly gives medical insurance to all of their employees, even the ones working part time.
Bravo, Mario Batali. Bravo!
Yep, totally in my happy place here.
Next Week: Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Eataly is one of my favorite places in Chicago! We have to visit it every time we are in town. We always seem to hit the pasta/pizza restaurant too…but Steve swears by the Prime Rib sandwich. Thanks for the great post.
Oh yum! I will have to try that next time we’re there!