By: The Food Hunter
“Eat, Shop, Learn” is the philosophy behind Chicago’s Eataly, the mega Italian marketplace located in the River North section of Chicago. The 6,300 sq ft, two story, market is comprised of a variety of restaurants, fresh departments and retail areas. The first floor is where you will find grocery items, housewares and quick foods options like a Nutella Bar and Panini station.
On the 2nd floor the Piazza, a standing area for eating and drinking, is surrounded by fresh food counters; including one for meat, cheese, vegetables and seafood, where professionals are available to answer questions and to inspire shoppers to try new things.
Each one of these counters also offers a sit-down restaurant featuring their specialty. Eataly even has a produce butcher. You can pick your fruits and vegetables and have them sliced, diced and peeled the way you want while you wait.
Eataly was founded in Italy by Oscar Farinetti, in 2007. Partners, Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Joe Bastianich and Alex and Adam Saper helped open Eataly New York in 2010 which was quickly followed by Chicago in 2013.
On the last day of my Thanksgiving holiday trip to Chicago I met with Valerie, an Eataly associate, for a private tour of the facility. We chatted for hours as she escorted me throughout the entire complex providing in depth descriptions of every area and even gave me a sneak peak of the fine dining restaurant called Baffo.
There is so much to experience as you wander around Eataly, watching cooks make fresh pasta and mozzarella, talking to fish mongers, tasting olive oil and sampling cheese. I am only skimming the surface of everything Eataly has to offer.
This is definitely a venue you need to experience on your own.
43 East Ohio Street