So I Went To Eataly And Wasn't Very Impressed...Sorry Mario
My Mom wouldn't stop talking about Mario Bataly's new market, Eataly, that just opened up near Madison Square Park, and how much she wanted to go there. Of course that meant in order to make her stop I had to take her there so she could spend a ridiculous amount of money on a ridiculously small amount of food...well I guess that wouldn't be all that bad. I'd heard from lots of people how great it was. 'Oh the pizza is soooo delicious!' 'The place is really beautiful and they have lots of great food.' Forgive me if I took it all with a grain of salt. I am no Mario Bataly fan and think that he is a bit of a food snob when it comes to Italian dishes, meaning that he only considers what he likes when it comes to the cuisine. I remember watching his short lived Food Network cooking challenge chef school or whatever it was...where he tutored young chefs in one of his restaurants kitchens. Anyway to make a long story short one of the youngsters made a traditional appetizer dish of Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil and Mario basically laughed at him and said that they don't make that....Hmmm, I believe pretty much every Italian place I have ever been to actually sells some version of the Caprese Salad, and who doesn't love a Caprese Sandwich? Snobbery I tell you. Well when it was announced that the fat redheaded one was opening up his own market I wasn't overly thrilled and didn't make it a point to rush over to see it. But some part of me was still curious. Appropriately on the day we decided to go, rain was falling outside as my Mother, my Sister and I walked thru the 23rd Street entrance to Eataly (very cartoonish name btw), and were first greeted by the absolutely dwarfish Vegetable section, it looked like an afterthought. And that may be my prevailing thought on the whole place...it really looks like not much thought was put into the arrangement of the store like they haphazardly placed things wherever they fit (which may have been on purpose of course). There also seemed to be a lot of empty space or too much space was dedicated to tables for the restaurants. Basically I think the place has an identity crisis...what is it? A place to shop and eat? Or is it a place to eat and shop? Get my meaning here...It seems like it wants to be a quality filled marketplace that has specific sections for all kinds of great foods with places to eat alongside. I just think that the market part of it is lacking. Not surprisingly it is pricey but I expected that, I just thought there would be more. However as we left with one bag of groceries for a grand total of almost $90 bucks, I thought maybe it was a work in progress. Maybe all that room inside is for growth and the opportunity to mix it around a bit. What I also thought was that I am sure people will give their opinions and changes will happen over time like a real marketplace a la Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. In the most recent issue of New York Magazine they have a two page spread on the place and part of me was expecting them to gush about Eataly's wonderment, but to my surprise they did not. They also did not talk much about the actual market deciding to focus primarily on the restaurants which went from 1 star to 5 in the reviewers opinion. Suffice it to say it just might be awhile before I step back in there to give it another try. Gourmet Garage here I come!