EATALY – A little Italy in the USA
Have you been to an EATALY yet? If not, and you live within 50 miles of one, you need to plan a field trip after you read this. I promise it will be worth the drive.
I had never heard of EATALY until last weekend. We were in Boston, visiting our daughter who goes to college in the city. We literally stumbled across it, and it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. I was honestly SO excited about this place that after wandering around for nearly a half-hour taking it all in, I told my husband I had to go back through and take pictures, because I knew I needed to share this with fellow “foodies” who have not yet experienced it. (I put as many as I could in this post.)
EATALY is a bit hard to categorize. Yes, it’s a store. You can browse and purchase things, but you can also eat there, enjoy happy hour, take a class, or just enjoy the environment they’ve created. I would have to call it more of a “shopping experience”. Think Disney World/Epcot for Italian food crossed with a Whole Foods store. Very cool!
EATALY is an Italian company whose name was created by combining the words EAT and ITALY. Their first location in Turin, Italy was opened in 2007 and they now have 13 “shops” across the country. There are currently five EATALY shops in the United States one each in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago and two in New York City – Flat Iron and Downtown. The company currently has plans to open a sixth location in Las Vegas later this year. Their tag line is “Eat Better. Live Better” and their goal really seems to be to bring the experience of Italian food and the Italian way of life to the rest of the world.
EATALY Boston is located in the Shops at the Prudential Shopping Center located on Boylston Street and it is H-U-G-E. They have created smaller shops within the larger store for fresh produce, meat, fish, pasta, salad, wine, desserts and more. In addition they have take away counters so you can grab prepared food and find a small table to eat it in store or take it with you. Finally, they have at least five restaurants where you can sit down and be served some of the freshest Italian food you have ever had. It’s great for lunch, happy hour and dinner with the family, friends or large groups.
Now, all that being said, as someone who grew up in Boston, I would still have to go to the North End in Boston if I wanted to have a romantic Italian dinner and some much needed authenticity. EATALY and the North End are totally different. EATALY is a bit upscale, modern and a great place to visit. There were far too many people there when we went back around dinner time for it to be a romantic dining spot (although it was the weekend before the Boston Marathon, so it may have been extra busy because of that.) The location, which is about 1.5 -2 miles away from the North End gives folks who work and live in Back Bay and South Boston a great local option for great Italian food and authentic Italian ingredients and groceries.
Since we were only in Boston for the weekend I didn’t have the need to buy groceries, but the foodie in me had a GREAT time looking at everything they offered. I spoke with a baker who told me the flour they use in their bread comes directly from a flour mill in Italy. The bread is prepared with the same materials and in the same way as they do it in Italy. That connection, and the thought that the bite I take here tastes exactly like it does in Italy, without having to take the trip, was a real lure for me. (Someone is a marketing genius in this operation!) I asked what the rustic chocolate bread they offered was like as I had never heard of a bread like that before. He promptly cut one open and gave us a sample…swoon. It was amazing! I immediately bought a loaf. We left it with our daughter to share with her friends. I’m sure if he put the rest out as samples everyone who tasted it bought a loaf. I wish I had some right now.
I took the pictures of some of the restaurants below at about 10AM Saturday when we wandered through. When I tell you it was packed when we came back at 5:30 PM I mean you could hardly move. The wait for most of the restaurants was an hour. Again, it was Marathon weekend, so a regular weekend might not be as bad. Call ahead and check on the wait.
In addition to groceries, wine, take away food and happy hour they also host daily events. A quick look at the EATALY BOSTON CALENDAR finds things like “Sip and Savor” a wine and cheese event, “How to make spring Risotto” and “Wine and Dine”. Each event gives an overview and the cost associated with it. I can tell you that this week’s events are already sold out. If you want to attend something at EATALY check their calendar early and plan ahead.
I hope someone at EATALY Corporate is planning an EATALY shop for Atlanta;) Maybe Atlantic Station? Or Avalon? It would really add to either of these destinations and provide some new Italian dining experiences for the south.
I hope you enjoyed this little taste of EATALY – sorry couldn’t resist;) Check out one of their locations if you find yourself within driving distance or staying in a city that has one. I really think you’ll love it!