Eataly NYC

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Eataly NYC We had to do it. We had to go.
Eataly NYC is THE food destination phenomena of the moment, and I needed to see how it stacked up to the original Eataly mothership in Torino.
I have no idea if it’s fair to compare, but we couldn’t help ourselves.


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Eataly NYC We had to do it. We had to go.
Eataly NYC is THE food destination phenomena of the moment, and I needed to see how it stacked up to the original Eataly mothership in Torino.  
I have no idea if it’s fair to compare, but we couldn’t help ourselves.

The physical space is challenging. The entrance is narrow and crammed, like a reverse funnel. Once you pass through the entrance you are confronted with a dizzying array of choices.  Do you want to eat? shop for meat? fish? vegetables? have a coffee? a glass of wine?  It’s heaven for someone with A.D.D., you can just bounce around until you finally find an exit and bounce out the door.

We arrived hungry, which breaks rule #1 of food shopping: never shop when you are hungry because you come home with stuff you never would have bought otherwise.  So being rule abiding people, we decided to eat at Manzo, the first restaurant we encountered.  Can you call it a restaurant if its basically nothing more than very nice seating in a food court?  The noise level is deafening. We opted to sit at the bar, which is always a good way to catch the buzz of a place, it’s easier to interact with the wait staff, or the other patrons. But the seats are so crammed together they are literally touching one another.  We are talking about literally rubbing elbows with the guy sitting next to you, which is just a little too close.
Agnolotti
We knew it would be expensive, but $21 for a plate of agnolotti?? That comes to a buck a ravioli. Are they crazy? The wine prices are in the stratosphere, and this is for very middle of the road producers. With Eataly’s resources, why aren’t some of the smaller,  more interesting producers being represented?
Comparison with Torino: Noise level is about the same.  The restaurants were much less expensive in Torino; they were actually good value. Torino didn’t have much of a wine selection, but what they offered was decently priced. 

The other observation is that the wait staff in NYC was just going through the motions. They didn’t know anything about the cheeses on the menu, even after looking at their notes. There wasn’t any passion for the food they were serving.

Jeff summed up our lunch experience like this, “The pasta was tasteless and overpriced, but it was fun.”  And that was the point, it was fun to be in the midst of all the hubbub, but it wasn’t about the food.
Grocery Shopping
The grocery shopping was …. difficult. It’s the physical layout that is the problem. The restaurant seating takes up the center of the space and the groceries are randomly spread out around the perimeter.  The selections are decent and the pricing seems fair. It will be a good place to stock up on things like Carnaroli rice, or pasta.  The macellaria (butcher shop) seems to be very good. I picked up some nicely fatted ground pork and fresh pork cheeks.  The fish market had whole fish, not just generic fillets so I’ll come back just for that. 

Comparison with Torino: Much smaller selection, but this is a smaller store.  Prices are in line with what you would expect for imported goods.  The layout makes it clear that the restaurants are the money makers and the food stuffs are window dressing.  The bread shop in Torino is bangin’ good, this one is just OK.

All in all, it’s a mixed bag experience, which makes it 100% Italian. 

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