A few months ago I attempted to get some dinner with a friend at Mario Batalli's new Italian shopping & dining complex Eataly
. She was especially excited having lived abroad in Italy in college. We walked through the chaos, but couldn't really get a handle on where to get ready-to-eat food without a long wait for the restaurant in the back. In the end, we got confused, gave up, and wound up going to our respective homes and eating leftovers.
When I found myself needing some Italian Antipasti for a family gathering I thought perhaps Eataly would provide a better grocery shopping experience. I dragged The Mr. along because it's a pretty impressive space and needed some reinforcements. We started with an espresso at the espresso bar to give us a quick kick-in-the-pants to deal with the crowds. Aaaaand we were off. We found the fresh mozzarella, picked it up, and then were frightened off by the steep price tag. "Let's come back to that" we said, and put it back down. Then we fought through the jam-packed aisles in an attempt to find some roasted red pepper. I figured they would have some fresh somewhere, but to my surprise all they had was jarred. We were already starting to lose steam and patience. Just like trip #1 we wandered around for a bit more before throwing in the towel.
In the end we wound up getting our bread, salami, tomato, mozzarella & red peppers from Whole Foods (I roasted the peppers myself in our toaster oven). Overall, my impression of Eataly is that it's trying to do two things at the same time, but without a clear division of where to shop and where to eat it becomes incredibly confusing. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so crowded. It is kind of fascinating to walk around though, if only to see the two huge aisles of pasta of every shape imaginable. For me, Eataly is an interesting place to bring out of town guests if we have a few minutes to kill.
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