Eataly: First Impressions

In need of a mid-afternoon walk/break, I decided it was time to brave Mario Batali's Italian food Mecca, Eataly, which recently opened on 23rd and Broadway. In all honesty, I went with a furrowed brow: does NYC need another crowded, overpriced celebrity chef food attraction? And upon seeing the amount of people inside the coffee shop/gelato entrance on Broadway a little after 3pm on a Tuesday, I thought, "Here we go..." But instead, I was pleasantly surprised. I think Eataly may have won me over.

I didn't spend tons of time in the place, and with a fridge full of things from the garden, I really didn't have anything to buy. But as I took a first pass through the food hall–like setup, I saw lots to like. Admittedly, most of the things aren't cheap, but Eataly deals in higher-end imports, and the prices weren't as ridiculous as I thought they'd be. The coffee was affordable, the cheese and meats seemed about right, and the dried pasta section will definitely give Chelsea Market's BuonItalia a run for my business.

What really surprised me, though, was the price of the produce--most of it organic. They had bundles of herbs and greens for $2, heads of lettuce for $1.50, and--shock of shocks--limes for 20 cents, which is the same as my cheap produce place on 41st and 9th! Not everything was a deal (the lemons were 75 cents each...) and I know that produce prices are volatile, but for now, I'll definitely have to put Eataly on my produce radar.

There's a little wine bar where you can grab a glass of wine, and Eataly sells bottles in a separate wine store on 23rd Street (I popped in, and again, they seem to be going higher end with a small selection of higher-priced wines). There are also a few places to eat, but I didn't look at the menus. They may be fun, but I'm not sure I'd want to spend that much money to eat in the middle of a crowded food hall. We'll see... Regardless, whether or not I become an Eataly regular remains to be seen. But for the moment, I'm definitely intrigued.

An Italian-style coffee bar.
Lotsa Lavazza.
Drinks and kitchen ware.
Beautiful Mozzarella di Bufala!
The bread was absolutely gorgeous. Priced a little higher than Amy's, but I tasted a sample, and it's pretty spectacular stuff.

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