I was super excited when I realized how close Eataly was to my hotel. It was one of the first things I noticed when I started researching the area. I wanted to make at least one trip during my time in Chiciago. As luck would have it, I ended up making two trips because it was that amazing! Eataly is a high end Italian market in both Chicago and New York owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali and restaurateur and business mogul, Joe Bastianich.
As soon as I opened the door, my senses were assaulted It was bustling with patrons, the smell of parmesan cheese and aged meats were intoxicating, and my eyes couldn’t even settle on one particular part of the store. After a quick review of the store map, I made my way up the stairs to take my maiden voyage through the aisles of Eataly.
Here was the first thing that caught my eye once I made my way through the crowds.
Oh, the glorious case of delicious cheeses and aged meats. I wanted to just sit right here and sample each and every item they had available. Like I say, leave no good aged meat or cheese behind. The staff behind the counters were great and incredibly knowledgeable as well. They were happy to help you find what you liked and understand how you planned on using it. I only sampled two things and then I decided to move on because there was more to see.
You probably know from reading some of my posts that I love a good steak. Sometimes I have the butcher cut a bigger steak for a special occasion that will leave a lasting impression.
But, not like this. The little steak is the Tomahawk ribeye with the full rib bone attached. I lovingly refer to it as the “steak-sicle.” A single steak weighs about two pounds and costs around 40 dollars a pound. I seriously stood at the counter and tried to figure out if I could get one in my suitcase for the trip home. You will notice the ribeye is in good company with the smallish t-bone steak below it. Isn’t it cute? Seriously, the meat and fish counters are truly a thing of beauty. Not only is the meat being handled on site, the quality is amazing, and the selection is outstanding to boot.
If you aren’t sure what to pair with your meat or fish, may I suggest a little pasta to go with it.
All this pasta is made fresh and in house. They had every variety of pasta imaginable from standard fettuccine, squid ink pasta, stuffed pasta and everything in between. Eataly’s pasta game is truly on point and is a sight to behold. This was especially cool after thinking about my pasta posts on the blog. Such a neat experience to be able to watch their machines cut giant sheets of rolled pasta dough was a real treat!
After looking around at wine, produce, and multiple little restaurants it was time for what I really came for. Gelato. Because there is never a bad time for ice cream or gelato. I didn’t care at all that it was 39 degrees outside, I needed gelato. The station had a variety of flavors such as coffee, lemon, Nutella, and chocolate. I decided to go with the coffee this round.
The coffee gelato was everything I could have imagined and more. First, the mouth feel and texture was stunning. It was rich, smooth, creamy, and not overly sweet. The coffee flavor was present, but perfectly balanced. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to eat more or swim in a giant vat of the stuff. It was that good! Who wouldn’t want a pool of gelato at their house? Look out, Willy Wonka! Eataly is in the house!
I ended up going back a few days later with a couple of good friends. No surprise that we did a lot of the same things including drooling over ginormous steaks, having a glass of wine, and eating more gelato. Did you think I wasn’t going to have more when I went back? This time I got the chocolate, which by the way, was a 70% dark chocolate and it was amazing!! The chocolate wasn’t overly sweet, but the fact is the chocolate gave the gelato amazing body and it really felt satisfying to eat. I didn’t get a photo of it because I was too busy eating it. That just means you need to go yourself and try some!
If you are in Chicago or New York, you must put this on your list of places to go. Just being in Eataly is an experience unlike anything else. Then, if you have time, grab a glass of wine, eat a cheese and cured meat plate or finally have some gelato. Even if you don’t buy anything, this is a real treat and truly worth the stop. If you don’t mind crowds then you can go anytime you want. If you don’t want to fight the crowds, I suggest you come during the week because this place gets busy in a hurry.
Stay tuned for more of my Chicago food adventures!!