I finally squeezed through the crowds surrounding Mario Batali’s latest New York City venture, Eataly, a football field-sized food emporium stocked from floor to ceiling with every Italian import imaginable. Dried pasta of every shape and size line the aisles of the megamart, which boasts a nearly nonstop crowd of locals and tourists alike. My visit was the result of both curiosity and necessity, as I was shopping for an Italian dinner party I hosted last night.
I made stops at the salami, cheese, bread, fresh pasta and seafood counters and was welcomed at each station by cheerful hosts who were more than happy to gush about their favorite picks. At first glance it is a bit overwhelming. The options are truly endless and I caught myself, alongside my fellow shoppers, peering into a case of more than 10 types of fresh pasta. Simple decisions about ravioli and spaghetti turned into 5-minute dialogues about spinach versus squid ink, beef cheek versus butternut squash.
I settled on a duo of sweet and spicy sliced sopressata, which I served with a crunchy Italian loaf alongside orechiette with Italian sausage and a salad of romaine, Parmesan and olives dressed in white wine vinaigrette. The evening was a success, measured by empty plates, full bellies and my newfound understanding of the crowds that flock to Eataly’s open doors.