Being the Italophile that I am, of course I had to get to Eataly as soon as it came to Boston. Well technically I gave it a couple of weeks to "thin" out, which I'm not sure if that's even possible yet seeing as it opened about a month ago. But going on a weekday in the morning seemed to be okay and crowds were manageable. The verdict? Loved it. I mean it's not the same as going to Italy and picking up all of those goodies while you're there but it is the next best thing to hopping on the plane. And when I'm missing Italy it's a good place to go and get a little taste (which let's be honest is most days...) While many are there for a dish of ravioli (nothing wrong with that), I am looking for the more obscure things that are tough to find outside the boot. Incase you're wondering, here's what I think makes a trip to Eataly worthwhile:
- The coffee. Finally, a good macchiato around here. And I love that they will do a single macchiato (meaning just 1 shot of espresso). Most local coffee shops drop 2 shots and that's 1 too many for this caffeine-sensitive lady. I mean why does America have to supersize everything? In Italy it's always a single shot unless you specify you want a doppio. But I digress....
- The cracker section. Sounds stupid, right? I mean how exciting can crackers get? Actually, very exciting and you know what I mean if you've ever had taralli (or the baby version known as tarallini). Nope, can't really find those guys around here unless you're very lucky to catch the Whole Foods River Street on the right day. I'll let you in on a little secret--it's not often that happens. So, thanks Eataly.
- The marinated anchovies, known in Italian as alici. I can see you making that disgusted face right now but have a plate of these bad boys while dining on a cliff on the Amalfi Coast watching the fishermen pluck them out of the Mediterranean and you'll understand. Granted they're not as fresh coming out of a refrigerator in Boston but...air travel is amazing these days.
- The pizza. What makes it good is the wood-burning oven its cooked in. This is how its done in Napoli, where pizza was born, and in Boston there are few places that do it that way (it's mostly brick oven in these parts). Also, you have the option to have your pie with mozzarella di bufala imported from Campania. Molto delizioso!
- The olives. Along with my favorite bright green Castelvetrano variety, I was also able to find the enormous green Cerignola olives that I snacked on from a lounge chair on the Amalfi Coast. While the Castelvetrano olives are not exclusive to Eataly (Whole Foods actually carries them), I have yet to find the Cerignola variety anywhere else.
- The booze. I loved that I had a variety of amari and grappe to choose from along with an extensive wine selection that is very well organized by Italian region of origin. Oh and how amazing when there are multiple kinds of aperitivi liqueurs for a spritz beyond the usual Aperol or Campari. The hubs appreciated the Italian craft beer section too.
In the few hours I've spent in Eataly I've barely chipped away at the surface. There is just so much to see and do and buy and eat. It's glorious. While I would prefer to hop the pond (or just live there!) this place gave me a quick Italy fix. And it's nice to know that when I run out of my olive oil a quick stop at this place will hold me over until the next Alitalia sale :)
I don't have many pictures to feed you with but I think this photo of the enormous Parmigiano Reggiano wheels is enough to give you an idea of what you're getting yourself into. Buon appetito!