Have you ever been caught in a flow of traffic so strong that you feel you can not exit? And to do so would not only be dangerous but you also fear the ire of those who may be inconvenienced and slowed down by your exit, even for a nanosecond? Or perhaps you have avoided swimming at a beach where dangerous riptides exist.
Unfortunately, I am very narrow minded when it comes to mob scenes. And there are plenty of mob scenes in New York City, driven by the buzz of the powerfully connected. It is a deal breaker for me. So, regardless of how wonderful and amazing Eataly may be, I can not tolerate being in a place that is like being on a freeway with no exits. I am not afraid of traffic - I have driven in New York City for my entire life here and was a taxi driver for nearly 2 years when I first moved to the city. But I try to avoid crowds and find a little respite when it comes to food shopping. This is why I also tend to visit Whole Foods Market in the city infrequently.
Eataly is the brainchild of restaurateurs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti who created the Eataly food emporium in Torino, Italy, opened in 2007. You can read more about them here at their website.
Eataly in New York City occupies 52,000 square feet on the ground floor in the toy center at 200 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street. It features multiple restaurants, a Neapolitan pizzeria, and retail shops featuring every imaginable food item from Italy, along with Italian housewares and a cooking school. There is a year-round rooftop beer garden and microbrewery.
Mario Batali is no poser. He knows his food, and his tremendous success is not smoke and mirrors. I did not examine any of the goods, but I am confident that everything is as represented as far as foodstuffs for sale. The philosophy here is not only to bring in the finest goods direct from Italy, but also to embrace the Slow Foods concept on which the original Eataly is based and which I heartily support.
Restaurants are, of course, another story entirely. Good service is not a given, particularly in a place overwhelmed with patrons. There are so many negative online restaurant reviews regarding the places in Eataly, that I would have to assume at best that the experiences here will be uneven.
However, I do plan on going back to look a little more closely, brave the crowdsa and give the place a chance. See you there, caught in the riptide :)