Eataly: A Food Lover’s Dream

Have you ever had a dream where you start off in one place, and in a flash you find yourself somewhere entirely different? (One minute you’re running down a hall at your office building and you turn a corner to find yourself in
an airport – in another country).

It’s actually possible to have that experience when you’re fully awake. Across from the Flatiron building at 23rd street and 5th Avenue is Eataly. Influenced by many collaborators and brands, including renowned chef, Mario Batali, Eataly is actually a supermarket—but then again, not quite. It’s more of a food experience—an Italian food experience.

When you enter from the 5th Avenue side, you are welcomed by an incredible array of sweets, confections, and gourmet chocolate truffles by the pound, cakes, cannoli and even gluten-free desserts. They are tiny and amazing, but not cheap – get ready to hand over no less than $5-$6 for one.

As you wander further into this food wonderland (past the fresh-made Gelatos and two espresso bars) you’ll find other packaged treats from Italy—beautiful tins of fruit flavored candies, or biscotti – (great to give away as part of a gift basket), and a small cheese section featuring fresh ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, and other aged and savory delights —but this is just a prelude. Deeper inside there is a whole cheese department with giant wheels and wedges of everything imaginable.

Then blink your eyes, and in a flash, you’ll find yourself standing inside a lively restaurant called Manzo. A steakhouse with an Italian accent where there’s a great atmosphere and a long bar to lean against, relax and chat with tourists and connoisseurs alike while you wait for a table.  (Here’s a tip: If you already plan on visiting and want to try Manzo—make a reservation online so you’ll have a table waiting for you rather than the other way around).
Manzo is only one of eight other restaurants inside Eataly. Other choices include a pasta and pizza place, called La Pizza & Pasta (of course); a Seafood restaurant called Il Pesce; and La Piazza which features standing tables where you can have a few laughs standing up while you savor a glass of wine, freshly made mozzarella and salami.

Back to the Market, which continues on the other side of the restaurants – proceed to dedicated counters displaying meats and seafood, freshly made pasta, and crusty, fresh-baked breads. And let’s not forget the endless shelves of beautifully packaged condiments (also a good gift idea for the foodie in your life).
Blink again, and you’re in a bookstore – well it’s a small corner dedicated to an array of fantastic cookbooks. To round out your dining-shopping-browsing experience, Eataly also sells designer tableware and kitchen utensils. Everything from sculptural salad bowls to elegant baking accessories.

The Exit will deposit you onto 23rd street, and back into the real world. But the good part of this dream is that you can return anytime you like and experience it again.

Eataly is located at 200 5th Avenue at the corner of 23rd Street.
Contributor: J. Davis Kone, NYC

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