A friend and I recently took a weekend trip to Chicago to visit another friend who relocated there from Atlanta (boo!). We definitely miss her, but Chicago is not a bad place to have to visit! It's a fabulous combination of the charm of Boston, the big city appeal of NYC, and the friendliness of the Midwest. There's great food, great sports, great festivals, great history and great lakes. If it wasn't ridiculously snowy and wretchedly cold in the winter, it'd be practically perfect.
So anyway, we visited for a long weekend. Lots of great food and shopping. But one thing that stood out? Eataly Chicago. This isn't the original location of this fantastic concept, but it's the first one I've been to so I'm going to love on it all the same.
Eataly is a gourmet Italian food market/hall that was founded by one Mr. Oscar Farinetti in January 2007 when he opened a 30,000 square foot store in Turin, Italy. His vision was the create an atmosphere that "joined elements of a lively European open market and a learning center." Farinetti was joined by brothers Adam and Alex Saper to create the first ever Eataly North America.
Together with New York restaurant veterans, Mario Batali and Joe and Lidia Bastianich (of B&B Hospitality Group), the very first Eataly USA located in NYC opened in 2010. Eataly now has locations in Chicago, Italy, Istanbul, Dubai and Japan. (All info paraphrased from eataly.com.)
Click here for Eataly's manifesto (p.s. it's fabulous).
Established in 2013, Eataly Chicago is located at 43 East Ohio Street in Chicago's River North neighborhood. The Chicago location boasts two floors of food, wine, shopping and sweets. You can take cooking classes and culinary tours. You can hold a private dinner or event. You can drink (or buy) beer and wine. You can shop in the market for gifts, oils, spices, sauces and fresh pasta, cheeses seafood and meat. You can dine at one of the 23 different eateries . You can grab a coffee and a chocolate, pastry or gelato. They even have a Nutella bar!
What we ate
Not surprisingly, we stopped at two restaurants: La Piazza and La Pizza & La Pasta:
Il Fritto: ARANCINI (fried saffron risotto balls stuffed with pork and veal ragù and peas)
Pizza: CAPRICCIOSA (mozzarella, mushrooms, prosciutto, artichokes, tomato sauce, olives and basil)
(I can never get a pic before we start eating the pizza!)
Pasta: PAPPARDELLE con Funghi (housemade pappardelle with a mushroom, tomato, garlic and thyme ragù)
I'm not going to break down any type of scoring for this - we were on vacation after all - so let's just say the pizza was traditional Neopolitan style pizza (is there anything better?) and the pasta with ragu was earthy and rich and damn fabulous.
Combine the great food with the electric atmosphere and you have yourself a pretty cool place to eat and shop! Come to Atlanta Eataly!