I spent this weekend in New York City visiting some of my oldest and dearest friends. After an incredible, home cooked meal on a friend's roof deck Friday night, I was afraid I would wake up too full for my lunch date on Saturday.
I had planned to meet one of my best college girls for an early lunch at Eataly, right off Madison Square Park. She had been many times before and the first time I heard about it, I knew I wanted to go.
The concept, which reminds me of the restaurant that used to be in the Prudential Center called Marche, is to have multiple types of food under one roof. All of Eataly's specialties are Italian, but they are sectioned off into different departments.
We entered the building through the gelato door. How appropriate for a dessert lover!
I was literally awestruck by how enormous the space was! Thank goodness for the arrows to direct us!
First we walked by the pastry case:
Then the panini bar which had this very cute map of Italy above the counter:
Then the fish section, complete with live lobsters!
Then on to the fresh pasta bar which had me drooling!
Next we walked by the focaccia station. Yes, an entire section just for focaccia bread!
Check out these corn crusted loaves!
Before sitting down for lunch, we took the elevator up to the top floor to see the roof top, beer garden. How gorgeous is this?
When we came back down we decided to eat in the section called La Pizza & La Pasta. There was a 20 minute wait, but we had no problem exploring some more.
When our named was called we were seated a table amidst all the shelves of pasta!
We had a super tough time deciding what to get, so we opted for three different dishes.
Once we placed our order we were delivered two pieces of crusty bread wrapped in butcher paper:
My friend selected the Capricciosa pizza which was mozzarella cheese, ham, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives. I had a piece (once it had been de-hammed) and it was incredible!
I chose the La Stella pizza which had arugula, cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan. It actually came on pizza chips instead of round, traditional crust. It didn't have any sauce, which I didn't realize, but it was still wonderful.
Our third dish was from the pasta menu called the Spaghettone Cacio e Pepe which was al dente spaghetti with Lazio cheese and black pepper. It was amazing! I have immense respect for restaurants that can make dishes from just a few, simple ingredients that taste superb.
We made it about half way through each of dishes before asking them to be boxed up. Our waiter did so happily and I loved the Eataly boxes!
As we were paying the bill I noticed an adorable little girl sitting next to us wearing a tiara and digging into her pizza pie. Eataly is princess approved!
Post-lunch we decided to walk around a bit before seeking out dessert. We walked through the specialty meat and cheese section where people were enjoying antipasto at high top tables. I thought this looked like a total blast.
We eventually made our way to the chocolate station where you had to ring a bell for service.
We selected three small pieces - a dark chocolate bar with hazelnuts, a milk chocolate dipped hazelnut and a dark chocolate bite filled with gooey caramel and rolled in small, crispy chocolate pieces. Holy yum!
Then we made our way back to the beginning, the gelato!
My friend opted for the coconut flavor and I chose the raspberry.
My friend said "it tastes like they took fresh fruit and just blended it up right into this bowl." Rather than stay in Eataly, which was quite crowded at this point, we took our gelato and sat on a bench across the street in Madison Square Park. It was the perfect ending to our Italian feast!
Eataly is a place that is entertaining for people of all ages and the food selection is unparalleled. I would love to go back and try additional restaurants, enjoy the sun at the beer garden and even just shop for ingredients to make Italian dishes at home.
Have you been to Eataly? What's your one must-have item?