I recently went on a job interview in Chelsea, so I was delighted to learn that this would give me the opportunity to visit one of New York's most talked-about markets; Eataly on 5th Ave and 23rd Street.
Part of a popular chain in Italy and owned by notable chefs Mario Batali and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Eataly aims to introduce New Yorkers to great imported foods and fresh products. I love to cook, love to eat and most importantly, love to spend money, so this promised to be a memorable experience.
My poor old legs just about got me up the PATH stairway that lead me to the corner of 6th Ave and 23rd. I crossed the street and started my journey. I worked in this area 15 years ago and I was happy to see the changes in the neighborhood. Busy and bustling with people shopping and eating. I didn't have too far to go when I got to one of three entrances to the Eataly market.
I just about walked in where already I was overwhelmed by signage everywhere, the crowds, the sights and the smells. I went over to the appliances and started to browse around. I think that if I had to go in real quick for a particular product, I would be frazzled because it's almost like the place is designed to slow you down. So, I just wondered around, past the fresh fruits and veggies, checked out the buy-one-get-one half price sales, saw the meat counter, fish counter and danced with delight when my bloodhound nose picked up the unmistakable scent of espresso and pastries.
Espresso bars, like the bars I visited in Naples is kind of a saddle-up-to-the-saloon experience standing, sipping and talking with someone at very close proximity to oneself. I was a little annoyed that I had to go on one line for pastries and another for espresso, but that was my dumb luck because about 10 yards away was another espresso bar done American style with the spinning seats and one-stop noshing.
It looked like most of the crowds were there to eat pizza and sip wine, which was odd to me because Italian food is so much more than that; it's fresh vegetables and fragrant olive oils used to dip with handcrafted breads. It's cheese-nibbling and hazelnut munching. It's espresso-sipping and hand-painted plates. This market was the best of Italy all in one place.
I highly recommend Eataly; bring your appetite; bring cash; and bring an open mind, which is more I can say for my job interview. No callback. Oh, well.