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Eataly, a Torino-Based Mega-Market in Flatiron District - 50,000-Square-Foot Italian Store is World's Largest

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Surprised there hasn't been discussion of Batali's extravagant new venture - Eataly. I'm going to be in NYC next week and it'll be hard not to give this place a visit. This is so over the top but the success of the one in Venice makes one think this could actually work.

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Surprised there hasn't been discussion of Batali's extravagant new venture - Eataly. I'm going to be in NYC next week and it'll be hard not to give this place a visit. This is so over the top but the success of the one in Venice makes one think this could actually work.

I went yesterday. Was underwhelmed - but do think it will probably be lucrative. Just don't really think I'm the target audience. I don't need overpriced Italian snacks/groceries I can find elsewhere. And I don't need mediocre gelato that doesn't hold a candle to Dolcezza. But I do think it will hold an allure for tourists and Batali fans. I mean, many of the workers there wear orange clogs... :(

Will post more details later...

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I went yesterday. Was underwhelmed - but do think it will probably be lucrative. Just don't really think I'm the target audience. I don't need overpriced Italian snacks/groceries I can find elsewhere. And I don't need mediocre gelato that doesn't hold a candle to Dolcezza. But I do think it will hold an allure for tourists and Batali fans. I mean, many of the workers there wear orange clogs... :(

Will post more details later...

Why does this not surprise me? I am sure that the place will do very well.

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I went yesterday. Was underwhelmed - but do think it will probably be lucrative. Just don't really think I'm the target audience. I don't need overpriced Italian snacks/groceries I can find elsewhere. And I don't need mediocre gelato that doesn't hold a candle to Dolcezza. But I do think it will hold an allure for tourists and Batali fans. I mean, many of the workers there wear orange clogs... :(

Will post more details later...

egads! it's disney world for chef groupies... oy.

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I was at Eataly opening night, and the prepared food we had was excellent...a couple of pastas were on par with the best of Batali's pastas -which means they were superb; a pizza that some will hate and I really liked (you know, that whole Neapolitan thing) and a salad misticanza.

The assortment of meats and cheese, which comes with 3 condiments, was practically a bargain at $22 and easily feeds 4.

As far as:

overpriced Italian snacks/groceries I can find elsewhere

A: The prices were right in line with what is paid at the other fine Italian importers in NYC.

B: I saw more varieties of imported pasta than I've seen anywhere. Yes, you can buy porcini at your local bodega, but it'll be from China or Poland, not the "A" grade that's being sold here (but that shit is expensive!).

The seafood bar (which we didn't get to sample) looked amazing, and with David Pasternack heading that up it is certain that the quality will be top notch.

Didn't have gelato, but I doubt it could be better than Dolcezza. I did have Il Laboratorio's gelato today, though, and it was damn good.

Of course, I've only spent a few hours so far, and there wasn't much grocery shopping, but I plan on going back tomorrow to really take a look at the grocery offerings. It may become a regular stop.

And beer lovers - some very interesting selections, along with this to come, from Eater:

A microbrewery is planned (not built yet), headed by Teo Musso of Birrificio Le Baladin, Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo in Rome, and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery, including, according to Joe Bastianich, "guest brewers every month that come from Italy to brew regionally- and seasonally-specific beers."

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Since I am in that type of mood, let's start with the bad.

A big F$@% YOU goes to Eataly. I was impressed with the variety of items in that store and the quality, from what I could tell, looked wonderful. All the accolades, however, end there. It is probably the worst laid-out floorplan that I have ever seen in my life, people were walking around confused as hell the entire night. Can you just grab that table or do I need to give my name to the hostess? Do I order at the counter? Is there even the concept of a line? Where do I pay? Man, it is a complete cluster fuck and, to be honest, it wasn't even that crowded when we were there. But, that is not the worst part of it. After walking around aimlessly for about 30 minutes, we decided that we wanted to eat at the pasta/pizza restaurant in the store. There were three tables available and four open bar seats, so we figured we were good to go. We went up to the hostess and said that we wanted a table, to which she replied that it would be a 1 hour and 15 minute wait. I, of course, asked why it would take so long to get seated with all the open tables, and she told me that there was a waiting list. But, I wondered, I didn't see anyone waiting, so I asked how she called people to the table. She told me that she just leaves the table open until they come back to the hostess stand. What!? I inquired further and she told me that if we waited 10 minutes, if there were any seats available, she would seat us. OK, makes no damn sense in the world, but if I get a seat, I really don't care. Two parties came up to the hostess stand in that period of time and got seated, I am assuming that they were on this list. Then, a party of four just walked into the restaurant and sat at the bar. I asked the hostess why they were able to sit at the bar without putting their name on the list, she said that they couldn't, but that they had already ordered drinks from the waiter, so she wasn't going to ask them to move. Nearly at my breaking point, I told her that we wanted to be seated, at the open table, right away, to which she told me that her friends were coming and she was saving that table for them. I walked away, in utter disbelief, and just couldn't even fathom what just happened. Not wanting to be one of those people that just walk away and bitch about it, I walked back to the hostess stand and asked to speak to who was in charge. She sent someone to find this person and the person never returned, ever. During that five minute wait, I noticed about 100 people walking around that worked at Eataly, but none of them seemed to have any purpose or be in charge, they were simply walking around aimlessly like the customers, so my wife encouraged me to leave before I punched someone in the face. So, yes, Eataly, you truly suck ass.

Yep, Eataly is tough, but it keeps the riff raff out. And while I consider myself riff raff, I have never experienced any of the problems that most of the complainers have experienced. Ah well, such is life in NYC.

All counters and tables require a check- in with the host person EXCEPT the bar at Manzo, which is the Piedmontese restaurant. Which, btw, rocks.

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Was in NYC recently and had a opportunity to stop into Eataly and a few occasions. Morning, afternoon and Night, the place was packed. Wall to Wall people. Initially the place overwhelmed the senses and defiantly takes some getting used to. We wandering around, had a glass of wine and desert, and looked at the goods and came away with the sense that it was ok, not great. To me there was nothing that special that would cause me to have to return. Conceptually I see what they were trying to do with the market feel, but I think that these contrived concept places are better served in Vegas or somewhere where people do not know any better.

In the end we skipped out and went to A Voce Madison and had a great meal, (review pending)

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Conceptually I see what they were trying to do with the market feel, but I think that these contrived concept places are better served in Vegas or somewhere where people do not know any better.

Yes, like in Turin.

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Yes, like in Turin.

I'm sure there are no tourist traps in Italy.

I've been to Eataly four or five times and couldn't agree more with the good sireatsalot. Your comment about the riff-raff above is quite funny, the place seems to be packed with tourists who have seen Batali on the tee-vee.

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I'm sure there are no tourist traps in Italy.

I've been to Eataly four or five times and couldn't agree more with the good sireatsalot. Your comment about the riff-raff above is quite funny, the place seems to be packed with tourists who have seen Batali on the tee-vee.

I don't really have a problem with tourists who come to NYC to spend their money. After all, aren't most of the posters from DC commenting on Eataly considered tourists?

Anyway, I haven't really seen any comments about the food in the restaurants at Eataly, which is where I've spent my visits. Excellent pizza and pasta, great seafood and a fine Piedmontese restaurant all under one roof are what make me like the place. And I can usually go when it's not busy at all - the crowds seem to bother a lot of people as well.

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I don't really have a problem with tourists who come to NYC to spend their money. After all, aren't most of the posters from DC commenting on Eataly considered tourists?

The point of my comment is that I think their customers are suckers who are wasting their money on a sub par product. Most of the "tourists" on this board have found the place unpleasant.

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The point of my comment is that I think their customers are suckers who are wasting their money on a sub par product. Most of the "tourists" on this board have found the place unpleasant.

And I'm waiting to hear from these "tourists" about the food in the restaurants.

And what is sub par about the "product?" As astute shoppers, I'm sure you just don't buy sub par product. 36 month aged parmesan, Piedmontese- style beef raised specifically for the butchery and clams, scallops, oysters, etc. dug from Long Island coastal waters do not sub par products make.

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And what is sub par about the "product?"

The wine program. Waaaaay below par for both quality of offerings and value for money, compared to Batali/Bastianich restaurants. I have on good authority that most of the wine program is set by Eataly corporate in Torino and primarily focuses on Eataly investors.

And the wine shop is WARM.

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Hey interesting discussion. Since weinoo has gone into great detail about Eataly here and on his blog, perhaps you or the other poster could be more specific about products/dishes that you actually bought and/or tried that made you find Eataly unacceptable? I am heading to NYC next week and would love some specifics :( Thanks!

You've probably read it already, but yesterday's NY Times Critic's Notebook covered Eataly. The last three paragraphs may be of special note.

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The wine program. Waaaaay below par for both quality of offerings and value for money, compared to Batali/Bastianich restaurants. I have on good authority that most of the wine program is set by Eataly corporate in Torino and primarily focuses on Eataly investors.

And the wine shop is WARM.

I don't know if you've eaten at Manzo (I have), but as Sifton notes in his Critic's Notebook:

"The wine list is exceptional... "

He also goes on to say:

"I was able to secure the ingredients for what turned out to be an excellent family pasta-and-meats dinner, with bread, cheese and a flinty, excellent Ligurian vermentino, for about $7 a head, all in. Good value.

So, too, are some of the vegetables available in Eataly’s narrow greengrocer area, particularly a wide and fabulous collection of fresh mushrooms and, at least for these last few moments of early fall, plump, soft tomatoes. "

Go on...

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I saw more varieties of imported pasta than I've seen anywhere. Yes, you can buy porcini at your local bodega, but it'll be from China or Poland, not the "A" grade that's being sold here (but that shit is expensive!).

As I posted above, Sifton (with whom I have no connection) seems to agree...

" But the collection of pastas - fresh and dry, much of the latter from Gragnano, outside Naples - is phenomenal, perhaps unparalleled in Manhattan. "

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I haven't seen the Manzo list. But the list for the "main floor" (all of the stands/stalls share a single wine program) is laughably pedestrian compared to Lupa/Otto/Babbo etc.

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I'm sorry but I'm not sure I understand your post. Are you saying that the wine program on the "main floor" is bad? Or are you saying that the wine program is bad compared to the Lupa/Otto/Babbo, etc., wine lists? My understanding is that the wine programs at these restaurants are quite good. So maybe something not quite as good as them might still be excellent, no?

I'm saying that the wine program on the main floor is at very much a lower level, both value-wise and quality-of-offering-wise, compared to the (similarly price) Lupa and Otto. I'm surprised Bastianich signed up for this much Torino (Eataly corporate) control.

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Do you think the store was warm enough to damage the wines? Sounds like it!

Two different issues. One is the by-the-glass offerings "on the floor," which are pedestrian and overpriced compared to the innovative approach at Lupa and Otto. Second is a similarly pedestrian (with many notable exceptions) setup at the wine shop (off-premise)...but with far too warm a setting on the climate control.

I get the sense the latter problem will be easier to remedy. And it might've been an anomaly.

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Two different issues. One is the by-the-glass offerings "on the floor," which are pedestrian and overpriced compared to the innovative approach at Lupa and Otto. Second is a similarly pedestrian (with many notable exceptions) setup at the wine shop (off-premise)...but with far too warm a setting on the climate control.

But "on the floor" is different than Lupa and Otto. Lupa and Otto are real, sit-down restaurants, not positioned in a giant supermarket. Where, by the way, you can drink a glass of wine or have a negroni - while shopping.

Before any sweeping generalizations are made, a perusal of the list at Manzo should be on the agenda.

And fwiw, neither Bastianich nor Batali is what I would consider a bad business person.

I sense a bit of jealousy on the part of DC dwellers here.

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But "on the floor" is different than Lupa and Otto. Lupa and Otto are real, sit-down restaurants.

The food price points at Lupa and Otto are basically the same as the food price points at the eat-in counters at Eataly. In many cases, less. And I can drink a hell of a lot better for $12 a quartino (versus $12 a glass at Eataly) at either one, and a hell of a hell of a hell of a lot better by the bottle. Smaller producers, more obscure and food-friendly varieties, etc.

Eataly's by the glass list includes both Martini&Rossi AND Cinzano "Asti Spumante." (At around $10 a glass!) Numerous items are offered "with a refreshing glass of Asti Spumante." Now don't get me wrong. There are lovely, reasonably-priced sparkling wines made in Piemonte (you know how I know? I've drunk them at Lupa and Otto!). None of them are made by Cinzano or Martini.

Several more of the by-the-glass offerings (and a significant number of offerings at the Eataly Wine Shop) are from Fontanafredda, a pedestrian Piemonte producer that happens to be owned by Eataly's owners. I've been perusing B&B restaurant wine lists for years, and other than the odd re-released VERY OLD Barolo, I've never seen a Fontanafredda wine on any B&B list. According to reports I've read, the Manzo list (neither it or the main Eataly list is online) has plenty of Fontanafredda.

The retail food offerings at Eataly are impressive. I had a good coffee. I asked for an amaro at one of the bars that sold coffee, wine, and amaro, and the barista said something to the effect of "oh, we don't know anything about those, the night bartenders sell them." But the wine offerings are insulting.

WineChap has more on the pricing and selection at Eataly.

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So I was so excited about Eataly. I had so many different people tell me how cool it was, how phenomenally great it was, and how much I would LOVE it. Well I just don't know. If it was nearby I could see it being a cool resource as they had a really nice butcher and fishmongers section, some good food and etc, and I would probably go from time to time. But I just wasn't wowed and amazed by its greatness. First it would be much cooler if you could get cheese and meats from the deli counter without needing to get a little bar table and being waited on. In fact that made it near impossible to do while having to wait for a table at the pizza and pasta section. I could also only find one spot to buy a glass of wine without being seated, and they just had like a wine or two, maybe I just missed this.

The dessert counter was amazing, the passion cake I had was really delicious as was the orange canoli and you could buy that right there at the counter, which was perfect. I don't know why more sections aren't like this. If all the sections were like that I could see the appeal. But what if one person wants fish and the other pizza? Well don't plan on sitting together or even in the same area. I just wish you could pick up plates at a counter and then find a table.

The selection of goods was really nice and I didn't get a chance to go up to the roof bierria (sp?)

However, the pizza and pasta we did eat was really good, as was the wine we had at the pizza and pasta section. The crust of the pizza was excellent, cheese was good not overly done and toppings were nice. We had just plain spaghetti with pomodoro sauce, which was nice in it's simplicity, I tried to talk Mom into pork ragu but she wasn't going for it. Anyway the food was very good, just not mind blowing. We have some Neapolitan pizzas here that are just as good. It was good food, the whole experience just could have been better.

And I was a little miffed that I didn't see any meatballs anywhere. I didn't expect spaghetti and meatballs, that isn't really Italian after all, but I was hoping for a meatball separately or perhaps with a little polenta. They had a special meatball sandwich one day a week... Maybe I just missed some stuff, but I really wasn't overwhelmed.

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This is definitely an establishment that could benefit by a small handout for first time customers. Maybe they have one and I just didn't see it in the epic chaos that is Eataly on a Saturday midday. Perhaps a layout and brief overview on seating policies on a small card with description of dining areas?

Was here on Saturday around 11:30am - hoping the early time would facilitate being able to grab a seat without too much hassle. After reading this thread, I did my best to find someone, ANYONE who worked there as to not just squat in a seat and cut off a line system but this good intent was quickly replaced by frustration. Finally saw two seats at a bar which the staff behind confirmed was open seating, so we grabbed the spots.

I didn't know it at the time, but we'd unintentionally placed our selves in the Le Verdure space - so a completely vegetarian menu. I had the special of the day - roasted fennel with parmesan over a tomato sauce. At 16$ for a small portion this wasn't a great value but was delicious. My SO had the fresh mozzerella with arugula, but since the tomato caper relish wasn't listed as a component on the menu, I was the beneficiary of her dislike of capers. She also had a wonderful bruschetta topped with a goat cheese spread and large chunks of fresh squash - easily our favorite dish of the day.

With two glasses of wine, this light lunch came to 82$ including tip. Not exactly a bargain, but after we moved past the chaos and confusion, we both really enjoyed our lunch.

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Eataly can be an absolute pain to navigate through, and I sometimes feel like I'm in a weird amusement park of some sort when I'm there. It is pretty much always crowded (with the caveat that I'm essentially only in New York on weekends). That said, there are times when all I really want is a simply grilled piece of fish and a glass of wine. Sometimes, such as a Monday afternoon when I feel stuffed to the gills after a weekend of eating, this is more of a necessity than a desire. And the seafood counter at Eataly fills this niche. It isn’t cheap, and the food isn’t groundbreaking, but my grilled Montauk squid was fresh and delicious, and the wine was crisp and refreshing, and it was really a great way to finish our trip to New York.

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