My boyfriend is Italian. Like, black hair, olive skin, 6'3" Italian. Like, his Dad has a mustache and his Mom makes amazing food Italian. I, however, am a Euro "mutt." Scotland and Ireland, I think, with a little English thrown in at some point. So, despite my best efforts I look... American. Like, light brown hair, hazel eyes, 5'11" American. Therefore, I find my boyfriend's heritage completely fascinating and feel the need to tease him about it at all times. When he makes fun of me, my response is, "Oh yea? Why don't you go pull some meatballs out of your pocket." At some point he actually suggested us sharing a bowl of spaghetti like Lady & the Tramp.
It's fascinating for a Midwestern girl who grew up without a sense of family heritage that tied back to one specific country or another. So I'm embracing it with open arms and was thrilled when I learned that NYC's famed Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lydia Matticchio Bastianich teamed up with Eataly co-founder Oscar Farinetti to create Eataly NYC, a giant Italian food and wine marketplace in the Flatiron district.
After MUCH hype this week, Eataly opened last Tuesday to throngs of New Yorkers looking to get their slice of Italy. I meandered in on Friday around 4pm to see what the madness was all about and, wow. The hype is hype for a reason. They've got everything you'd want, it's like a foodie/locavore's paradise wrapped in prosciutto and drizzled with olive oil. I wandered through the space, careful not to bump into the hordes of people and exited with a burning appetite (and a prosciutto di parma panini on the freshest "rustic" bread I've ever had).
They've got fresh produce. And a butcher. And fresh seafood. And amazing breads with crusty crusts. And pizza's! And fresh (and dry) pasta's! And olive oils and sauces imported from Italy! And a cheese section where they give you a giant slice to sample before you buy! You just want to fill up your basket to the brim and walk quietly home on cobblestone streets to your apartment with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean (or... to your studio apartment on 88th Street).
Oh, and everyone speaks Italian, which makes you want to get Rosetta Stone immediately so that you can fit in and feel fabulous saying things like "Vivi e lascia vivere!"
I couldn't wait to share this Batali-described Italian food "temple" with the bf so we went back today for a closer look. We emerged with more panini, a loaf of "rustic" bread, 1/2 lb of Taleggio, thinly sliced Coppa, fresh squash ravioli, a jar of tomato basil marinara and hazelnut/pistachio gelato for me - chocolate/vanilla gelato for him.
Bottom line? I will be going back. Maybe tomorrow :)
200 5th Avenue, across from Madison Square Park