|The Guide for the Italian Mecca|
|La Piazza-the standing table enoteca|
I had read about Eataly in every magazine, blog, and e-newsletter this side of the Mississippi. I had been dying to experience this Italian food mecca but was a little afraid of it all. Don’t get me wrong-Italian food is my favorite cuisine, but I imagined a gigantic building full of pasta where I would feel nothing but overwhelmed. To paint a picture of this massive Italian food hall, Eataly is made up of 12 venues to eat or drink ranging from the upscale restaurant Manzo to the casual standing room only La Piazza all the way to a Gelateria. There is also a market with wine, produce, meats, cheeses, bread, you name it. It reminded me of a small Italian town, truly a “Little Italy.” So I decided to take the plunge. My friends and I decided to scope out the premises and get a sense of Eataly before settling on our final destination. Of course we entered the building on the gelato/cafe/pastry side and immediately knew I was doomed before even seeing one piece of pasta. Resisting the urge to go straight for the gelato five seconds into visit, we continued our journey throughout Eataly with a sampling here and a sampling there. After learning about our hour wait, we used our time wisely and headed straight for where it all began. Now I am a big ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt fan so I had to get a scoop of the hazelnut gelato. Thank god I'm an adult and can do dessert before dinner because that gelato was the perfect preview for the rest of the night. The gelato melted in my mouth, and I would’ve tried another flavor if it wasn't $5 for a scoop the size of a golf ball (ok, I'm exaggerating...a little). Moving onward, we ventured to the homemade pasta counter and struck up a conversation with an employee about butternut squash ravioli. After a how to lesson and some innocent flirting, he gave us $10 worth of the ravioli for free. Good gelato and free pasta. I can die a happy woman.
Finally, our time had come to try La Pizza & Pasta, one of the casual dining restaurants tucked nicely into the back of Eataly. This restaurant was right up my alley. The menu was divided into 2 parts: (you guessed it!) Pizza and Pasta. On one side of the menu, there were Neapolitan pizzas-thin crust pizzas made in a brick oven while the other side comprised of pastas prepared in two ways: soft and al dente. Obviously we had to try one of each so for our first dish our Sicilian waiter recommended the La Verace TSG pizza made of tomato sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, DOP extra virgin olive oil from Sorrento, and fresh basil. As for the pasta recommendation, he suggested the Spaghettone Cacio e Pepe served al dente with cheese from Lazio and black pepper. Sold! Has to be good if an Italian recommended it and it was. The pizza was juicy and mouthwatering. Molto Bene! Next came the pasta. It too was good but after that delicious pizza I wished we were more adventurous with our pasta selection i.e. spicy sauce or some veggie mix. Oh well, the pizza picked up the pasta's slack and carried the restaurant. After tackling the beast that is Eataly, I realized it wasn't so scary after all. There was a quote hanging on one of the walls of Eataly saying "Life is too short not to eat well." Couldn't have said it better myself.