When I first moved to New York, visiting EATALY was at the top of my list. I had seen pictures of the store on Instagram, read reviews by various bloggers and papers, and watched various videos showing the stores variety. Having traveled to Italy in the past, I was expecting EATALY’s food to be better than most American-Italian Restaurants but slightly less flavorful than the food I had sampled in Italy. Boy, was I wrong.
EATALY’s food is absolutely incredible! Walking around the Flatiron location, you get to see the fresh pastas being made, wheels of parmesan being cut, mozzarella being pulled, prosciutto being sliced, and so much more. The concept of having a different restaurant for each type of food worried me, as I wrongly assumed that because there was a Pesce section that seafood would not be in pasta dishes. It was clearly a dumb assumption.
It was hard to pick one restaurant, since they all sounded amazing, but my parents and I decided on pasta. My parents, who were in town for the weekend, wanted to see how EATALY’s pasta stacked up to our own homemade pasta. The Pasta and Pizza restaurant is a great choice since it is tucked away in the corner of the store and offers more privacy than other sections. We sat down just before noon, and by noon the entire section had filled up. If you want to eat at EATALY, I highly suggest going before noon. We entered the store around 11:20 AM and it was empty enough to easily walk around.
We were lucky enough to go to EATALY on a Tuesday, when the two pasta sampler is available. The two pasta sampler allows you to order two different pasta dishes for $25. And, to be clear, the sample size is enough to be a meal. I went for the two pasta sampler, ordering Spaghetti (Cacio e pepe) and Tagliatelle (short rib ragu). The deliver one sample at a time, so my Tagliatelle arrived first.
This tagliatelle with short rib ragu was absolutely delicious. It was honestly one of the best pasta dishes I have had in New York. It was even better than some of the pastas I had sampled in Italy. The short rib ragu was perfect and melted in your mouth. The pasta was perfectly cooked and had just enough flavor to compliment the ragu. I have already planned a trip back there to order this pasta dish again.
My second pasta was slightly less wonderful. Cacio e pepe is a classic Roman pasta dish and is an indicator to me of just how great a restaurant is. Cacio e pepe is an easy dish to compose, with three main ingredients that work together wonderfully. However, if the chef puts too much or too little of an ingredient, the dish can be just okay. I had a lot of cacio e pepe in Italy and have made it at home, and EATALY’s does not stack up. My father has perfected cacio e pepe after a year of reading articles, recipes, and sampling at various restaurants. In his mind, and my mind, EATALY’s cacio e pepe was lacking cheese and the butter made the dish too creamy. Do not get me wrong, it was still delicious, but this dish was not of the same caliber as the pork ragu.
My parents also got the pasta sampler and they chose some delicious dishes. My mother and father both ordered the Calamari option, which included shrimp, mussels, scallops, tomato sauce, garlic, white wine, parsley and chili. They both loved the dish. The seafood was perfectly cooked and the sauce was perfectly balanced.
My father chose Lumache as his second pasta. The Lumache dish features sweet sausage, fennel, escarole and pecorino. My father loved this dish so much he wanted to find the recipe so he could make it at home. It was an outstanding dish with deliciously combined flavors that made each bite unforgettable. My mother opted for the Bucatini dish which is composed of red onion. tomato sauce, chili, pecorino and parsley. She decided to skip the guanciale that is usually in the dish since she is a vegetarian. This dish was incredible. My mother even mentioned how impressed she was that the sauce was neither too salty or too sweet. The sauce was flawless. After those dishes, my parents became instant EATALY addicts, coming back the following day for lunch (without me).
EATALY is a great place to visit. The store makes you feel as if you have left the city and have entered a fancy market somewhere in Italy. Everything about the store is perfectly designed and laid out so that the customer can enjoy all Italy has to offer without leaving the US. I will be returning to EATALY very shortly and I am certain my parents will be on the lookout for an EATALY in any city they visit.