The first US branch of the high-end Italian food market Eataly opened today in New York City. PSFK visited prior to the official opening of the doors and took in the sights and smells. Food culture in NYC has grown to rival fashion and Eataly’s debut in the city signals what could be the beginning of a competitive upscale grocery battle. How serious is Eataly about retaining the character of their other European branches in the US? They are shipping the same yeast used in the bread they bake in Italy over to the US to make sure the quality is the same. But that doesn’t mean that everything for sale in the nearly 50,000 square foot store is imported. Eataly is purchasing produce from local farmers.
It doesn’t take long once inside to become overwhelmed with the presentation and selection. Eataly is more like a retail theater and temple to food as it is a store. Separate departments around the store feature different product categories. Surrounding these are service counters including a butcher, a fishmonger, fresh pasta, artisan cheese, cured meats, and hand-made mozzarella. Our favorite has to be the ‘Vegetable Butcher’ stand where fresh produce can be cleaned and cut to the customers’ request. They also have several large glass containers with fresh potatoes, beans and artichokes already pre-washed, soaked, and ready to be cooked.
Eataly also has a range of restaurants inside including Pizzeria Rossopomodoro run by two chefs direct from Naples, Italy. Il Manzo is an 80 seat white-tablecloth Italian steakhouse which takes reservations. The other draw is likely to be the soon to open 300-seat rooftop beer garden which is the first included in any of the Eataly stores. Located on the 15 floor and accessible through an elevator in the store, it should have great views of the adjacent Madison Square Park and Flatiron Building.