I’m not really sure when Eataly entered my consciousness, but it was one of the few New York City places that my mom and I went that I had heard of before my mom suggested going to it. It is a…hmm…I’m not really sure how to describe what it is because it is unlike any place I have ever been before. It is part restaurant, part grocery store, part coffee shop, part gelateria. And it. is. huge. I mean, Eataly would be big even by Ohio standards, but by New York City standards, it is absolutely colossal. The weird thing is, though, from the front entrance, you can barely tell it’s there.
Like I said, I had heard of Eataly prior to visiting, so I kind of had an idea of what it was going to be like. Kind of. My mom and I decided to go to Eataly for dinner on Saturday night after doing some shopping. (Side note…I ALWAYS somehow forget that my mom can outshop me by about 3 hours, so shopping with her on 5th Avenue was enough to work up a pretty large appetite). We decided to just walk from our shopping excursions to Eataly, which we figured would be about 20 blocks. I think this is probably a long way to walk if you are a New Yorker, but for us, it was nice to walk a lot because it allowed us to see a lot more and get some exercise in between ginormous meals.
I had pulled up directions on my phone, but when we walked up to Eataly, we literally did not see it. Instead of assuming that it was tucked away, we assumed our cell phones had led us astray. Eataly is literally 10,000 square feet – not something you think you’re going to just not see when you’re right in front of it. We checked and double checked, but ultimately concluded that we were in the right place. To this day, it cracks me up that we stood outside of this behemoth of a store and literally did not know we were there. But that’s how unassuming it is from the outside.
Even after we walked in, I actually still wasn’t convinced we were in the right spot. That’s because the front of the store seems pretty small. Right at the front, there is a coffee shop, a gelato shop and a place to buy sandwiches. It was really, really crowded so it was hard to tell just how far back the store went. We started meandering back and suddenly the store just opened up into this huge, expansive and maze-like place. I think you could walk around there for two hours and not see everything.
We came across what looked like a hostess stand, so we put our names on the list to wait for a table. The woman estimated that we would have an hour and a half wait for a table, and she asked for our phone number so that they could text us when a table was ready for us. I kind of liked this system except for the fact that when I am expecting a call, text or e-mail, I become extremely paranoid that my phone is going to stop working and I’ll miss something important.
We decided to walk around a little before getting our table (me, glued to my phone like a teenage girl). We noticed a couple other “restaurant” areas that we hadn’t known about, but we still felt like we made the right choice putting our name in at what turned out to be the pizza/pasta/casual eatery. One of the others was a very high-end fish and seafood eatery. There was also a steak place that was more upscale, as well. I’m sure the food at those places would have been incredible, but we didn’t really feel like doing anything too involved at this point. We had been shopping, walking and eating all day, so casual and low-key was perfect.
As we kept winding around the store, we realized just how huge it is! There are like five looooong aisles of just various types of pasta. The selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegar was equally impressive. But this is what makes me certain that if I lived in New York, I would go to Eataly all the time:
Huge butcher counter
After meandering around for a while, I convinced us that we should get some pre-dinner gelato as an “appetizer.” By the time we finished our dinner, the store was going to be closed, so it seemed like a great idea to make sure we got to try some of Eataly’s famous gelato.
I’m not really an expert on gelato, so I can’t really say how this gelato compares with other kinds. It was good. I was glad we tried it. But I can’t say that I would get it again if I went back. I have mentioned before that I just don’t go crazy over desserts like a lot of people and gelato, in general, ranks pretty low on my list of desserts, so take this “review” with a grain of salt, but yeah, I thought it was fine.
While we were eating our gelato, I got a text message saying our table was ready, which was perfect, because instead of curbing my appetite, eating the gelato kind of just made me realize how hungry I was. So we went alllllll the way back to the hostess stand and were taken to a table in a pretty crowded little restaurant area. The ambiance was definitely not the best. It had the typical grocery store lighting and it was loud and jam-packed, but I mean, it is a grocery store, so it was fine. It felt somewhat like a food court.
At our table
Our server brought out bread and olive oil and we ordered. Like I said, service moves pretty fast in New York because they are intent on getting as many people in and out as they possibly can, so within like 10 minutes of sitting down, we had WONDERFUL plates of pizza and pasta in front of us!
Ate. it. all.
My mom ordered the four cheese pizza, which I had a slice of, and I ordered some type of pasta that I don’t really remember (worst blogger ever, I know, sorry). It had meat (sausage?) and cheese (duh) and perhaps some tiny portion of a green vegetable (because I’m health conscious) and it was absolutely delightful. It totally overcame the lack of ambiance and just tasted so good!!
The portion was not that big, so I know this would be an issue for my brother, who gets irrationally angry when restaurants do not serve what he considers to be large enough portions. If I had been there in what I hope is my usual capacity of “Laura – girl who is trying not to be a fatty and doesn’t want to stuff a vat of carbs and butter and fat into her face” then I would have loved the portion size of this pasta. It was enough to fill me up but not so much that I would have felt incredibly guilty about eating it. Unfortunately, on this particular day, I was more in my capacity as “Laura – girl who has been forced to try on a billion outfits (I know, what a tragic life I lead…) and who has just been given the most delicious pasta ever and who wants to eat like twice this much no matter how disgusting doing that may make her feel” so even though I was full, I was so sad when I finished my dish.
The other cool thing was that this ended up being one of our least expensive meals we had the whole trip. By New York standards, this particular part of Eataly is pretty affordable and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting.
After we ate, the main store was closing down for the night, so we walked around one last time and then left. We decided that we should probably walk back to our hotel after our delicious, heavy dinner. Our walk took about 30 minutes. It actually did feel nice to walk around after eating all that pasta, but in a way, it just made me feel even more certain that I should have eaten more ;)