It’s about three million degrees here and we’re all suffering. The Morgster is in a particularly bad way, sporting, as he does, a thick coat of curly hair. He’s booked for a haircut on Tuesday, thankfully, but in the meantime there is much puffing and panting and jumping into the bathtub for quick cool downs. He’s also started licking the marble floors, perhaps because it feels cool on his tongue. Has anyone else ever had that happen? Drives me nuts.
I went to the supermarket this morning (This is what happens when your brain melts: yesterday I went to the store with just one item on my list — puffed rice for the dogs — and I came home with everything but) and I had to stop into every bar I passed for granita, iced coffee and bottles of water. Last night it seemed like a good idea to get to an air conditioned space and that’s how I ended up at Eataly.
The largest Italian artisanal food and wine chain in the world, Eataly is a combo farmer’s market, supermarket, food court and learning centre.
Oscar Farinetti opened the first one in an old vermouth factory in Turin in 2007. Farinetti hails from a long line of pasta makers (his name comes from the Italian word for flour: farina. Isn’t that interesting?). Since then, Eatalys have been launched in Milan, Genova, Bologna, Pinerolo, Monticello, Tokyo, New York and, as of about ten days ago, Rome. Having only ever been to the NYC Eataly, I can’t speak for the rest but I can say this: the Rome space is genius. It’s housed in the old Ostiense Air Terminal, a train station built at the time of the 1990 soccer World Cup and largely abandoned thereafter. It’s huge and beautiful with enormous windows and filled with light. I’ll let my friend Elizabeth tell you about the design.
The space is divided into sections, each devoted to a particular type of food: ice cream, pastry, coffee, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, fish, meat, fried stuff, roasted stuff.
You can eat in or take out. The menus per section are brief and change daily. We ended up in the fish department where we enjoyed some seriously moist and meaty swordfish, some oysters and a plate filled with raw bits of fish.
There’s a huge bookstore for foodie types (which has some titles in English as well as Italian) and a vast assortment of kitchen toys (I finally found the cherry pitter I’ve been coveting). Do you know you can get a special tool for cleaning sea urchins? And another for taking the tops off of soft boiled eggs? That’s some serious specialization right there.
Up top is a fancy restaurant, Italia, which showcases dishes from each of Italy’s 20 regions. And a gorgeous teaching kitchen where they will offer cooking classes with famous chefs, including for kids and pensioners (who get to participate free of charge).
The only negative was that Eataly was absolutely jam packed with people. It took forever to find parking and nearly as long to snag a table. So I’d recommend staying away on a Saturday night, at least until the novelty wears off. Eataly is open every day from 10 am until midnight.
Piazzale XII Ottobre 1492
Tel. +39 06 90279201