If you couldn’t quite make it to Rome this year, this all-things-Italian food market (created by famed restaurateurs Mario Batali and Paul Bastianich) is the next best thing. There are six restaurants and a rooftop beer garden if you want to stop for a meal or drink. Pick up some gifts here—like artisanal olive oil from Puglia, preserves made from Portofino figs and sea salt harvested from Sicily—you might fool the folks back home about where you went on your cruise.
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Head Over to Eataly for a Savory Feast
If you've ever been to NYC, you know there's good food on every corner. But adjacent to the Flatiron building, this delicatessen is, by far, the best hidden place to experience all the riches of Italy without hopping on a plane.
A food lover's paradise! Paninis. Sweets and treats. Savory meats and cheeses. Freshly made pastas. Fish and seafood right off the boat!
It's hard not to get mesmerized by the abundance of rich smells and the overall ambiance of the Eataly.
You can sit down and dine or eat standing up. I chose the latter, deciding to explore the deli section some more (image shown here). I can't be too sure who's menu I was looking at but before I knew what I was looking at, I ordered the lunch special for $7.99 that I saw on one of the stand only tables. A portobello panini with brea cheese and caramelized onions and some sort of hearty vegetable soup combo. Perfect for the rainy day we were having.
To end our delightful experience at the Eataly, we stopped by the Gelato shop. I haven't had gelato like that since my last time in the Cinque Terre. By the way ... the pistachio flavor is to die for!
What is there to say about Eataly that hasn't already been said? With Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich as partners in this foodie dream, it's not exactly "under-the-radar," but it is still worth seeing in NYC.
Simply put, it is a massive market, cooking school and restaurant emporium with gorgeous, enticing food and cookware at every turn (with steep prices to match). Shop for salami, cheese, wine, fish, bread, canned goods, sweets, coffee and more all beautifully displayed. You can easily get lost for hours in here, spending your entire week's (month's?) food budget and enjoying a fresh pasta and Chianti at one of the store's five restaurants. It's a blast.
Everyone loves Eataly. The Italian superstore destination is always crowded with people looking for quality food and ingredients. The large market features shops for cheeses, meats, pastas, and more, along with sit-down restaurants throughout.
Since the store is perpetually crowded, I recommend going in the morning. However, not everyone knows Eataly has a rooftop beer garden, which has a beautiful view of the Empire State Building.
Talk about "slow food!" Everything we picked out for our picnic-style dinner was aged...aged cheeses, aged meats, a bottle of 2008 red. I love knowing that months and years ago, someone in Italy was thoughtfully creating my dinner that I'd eat way down the road, a continent away.
I opened the door to what I thought was an unassuming cafe along 5th Ave. As I stepped through the doorway, it was a bit like when they open the door in Willie Wonky and the Chocolate Factory: what it looked like on the outside was merely a shadow of what was inside!
Everywhere I looked, there were people. There were bottles and boxes stacked sky high. The room - rooms - were filled with the aroma of brewing coffee and freshly baked bread and cheese and dessert and citrus all at the same time.
I wandered around the Italian behemoth for a few minutes, unsure where to even start. I wanted a cup of coffee, but I couldn't tell which way the sound of frothing milk was coming from.
It was huge and overwhelming and, as a third generation Italian-American, absolutely fantastic.
The Batali-Bastianich Italian marketplace Eataly is never empty, never quiet and never boring, but if you want to escape the din of shoppers, head to the rooftop Birreria, a restaurant and brewery formed in collaboration with Dogfish Head, Baladin and Birra Del Borgo. Perched above the Flatiron District, the airy, casual restaurant is the perfect place to grab an afternoon pint and chat with friends.
While food is served (a bon vivant's choice of charcuterie, housemade sausages, cheeses, salads and pickled vegetables), the draw of the Birreria is its incredible selection of house brewed, cask-conditioned ales. Though "brew" may not be the right word: these tipples are crafted. Using ingredients like chestnuts, thyme and Italian wheat, these ales ($10 a glass) are flavorful and easy drinking, though simultaneously deep and subtle. If it is on the menu, order the Etrusca Ancient Ale. Recreated from a 2800 year old recipe with the help of Molecular Archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern, the ale's ingredient list sounds like that of an alchemist: hazelnuts, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Myrrh resin, Gentian root, Delaware and clover honey and Senatore Capelli (an Italian wheat). The resulting flavors are cider-like, as the warm honey notes blend with the hazelnuts. Like all cask-conditioned ales, the Etrusca is naturally carbonated and unfiltered, with a pleasant weight that dances on the tongue.
If you're looking for magic in New York, well, Birreria sells it by the glass.
After the depletion of my olive oil from Italy I wanted something very special to replace it. With the huge selection at Eataly choosing is no easy task. At one moment you think you want olive oil but then the next you are distracted by the selection of face creams (made with olive oil and great for dry skin) or the yogurt face masks, the useful but decorative kitchen tools and perhaps even the astounding amount of pasta you never knew existed. In the midst of the dizzying variety a member of Eataly’s team emerged from the steam of boiling pasta (similar to Venus emerging from sea foam except replace the sea shell for a boiling pot) and offered to conduct an olive oil tasting, something I thought I would have to go back to Italy for.
He handed out the miniature plastic spoons and broke their selection down for us. The most popular olive oils were lined up on a display ranging from grassy (and less expensive) to more rich and subdued (most expensive). To taste olive oil you must sip it between your pursing lips so that you get both the aroma and that the taste is dispersed throughout your mouth. Doing so with the grassy olive oil with create a peppery/spicy effect that will probably make you cough. The Eataly team member said that coughing is actually a compliment to the olive oil producer. As we moved up on the budget scale the olive oil became less grassy and contained a smoother finish with no spice or resulting cough.
Ask an Eataly associate to conduct your own tasting.
Granduca Dii Sicilia in NYC is a hidden gem on a quiet side street in the the bustling Flatiron district. Pastas are homemade, plentiful, with mouth-watering flavors that will keep you coming back for more. When you do come back try the big thin crust pizza and make room for delicious cannolis.
The restaurant is lively but you can have conversations with ease due to the high ceilings and great acoustics. This is a great place to have a business lunch or dinner or even a group party dinner. The staff is attentive but not overly and Claudio will help you with the perfect wine selection.
Enjoy and Mangia at Granduca Dii Sicilia!