I obsessed about Eataly in countless Mangia Monday posts over the past year and a half. New York City was buzzing about the Italian food market, launched by Mario Batali and other big-name chefs. But Andrew and I didn’t get a chance to visit until our mini-honeymoon last month.
It was worth the wait. Mounds of freshly-made pasta, Italian meats, and delectable pastries were just the beginning. I spotted Italian ketchup and Italian beer. And we happened to stop by on a big day: the World Pesto Competition. Celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich hosted the event, which pitted pesto enthusiasts against firemen. (An odd pairing, no?) The event was free and open to the public. I ventured close enough to get a quick snapshot of Bastianich and a competing pesto.
Sadly, we took nothing home from our trip to food heaven. I was dying to break my budget on the fresh pasta, but the delicate spaghetti needed to be promptly refrigerated. So we did the next best thing: binge on a hearty Italian lunch at one of Eataly’s several restaurants. We chose La Pizza & La Pasta. The prices were reasonable and the tables were nearly packed by noon (a good sign).
The menu didn’t leave much to be desired, but we settled on two specials. The pizza was a homemade pie split into three sections: one a classic margherita, the second topped with prosciutto and ricotta, and the last covered in fresh greens. The pasta was tossed with tomatoes and other vegetables, but the intricacies of the dish have escaped me now. What I can’t forget is the taste and texture of the fresh pasta. The subtlety and freshness of homemade pasta can never be matched by the boxed variety. (I think I know what my next big food project is going to be.)
I guess it’s not true to say we left Eataly empty handed. We left with full stomachs — and a strong desire to go back as soon as possible.