When my daughter kept texting me about this neat Italian market I should visit, I was a bit surprised at what I thought was her continued misspelling. My spell check continues to go crazy. Eataly is a very large 36,000 square foot building – totally open inside - with different restaurant “areas” specializing in pasta and pizza, fish, desserts, and vegetables. Everything is homemade of course from fresh local ingredients using traditional Italian techniques. And there are tons of Italian and some local food items to buy and take home. Olive oils, risottos (so many kinds…), vinegars, canned beans, dried pastas, fresh pastas, cheeses, wines, beers, coffees, cookbooks, and on and on.
This is a very, very cool market. If I lived in the area I would come here often to either pick up some great ingredients to cook at home or to have lunch, dinner, coffee, or to have an aperitif while watching mozzarella being made. As an out-of -towner I would and will come for lunch and pick up some Italian food gifts for friends and for myself. Located at 23rd and Fifth Avenue, right across from Madison Square Park, this whole area has gone from seedy (in the 1990’s) to very appealing and a destination point. Madison Square Park itself has undergone a total transformation and has an intriguing history. New York is continuing to surprise me with the revival of so many areas. First the Meatpacking District and now, just a day later, the Madison Square Park District.
It was good I had a focus for lunch because this could be an over-whelming place. So, continuing on my quest to find the perfect pasta with tomato sauce, I headed to the pasta area. The lines were a bit long so I opted for a seat at the bar since I was a single and ordered a Spaghetti al Pomodoro. Italian wines by the glass were plentiful and my very handsome Italian waiter and I decided on one and then he brought Italian bread tied up so cutely in parchment paper, and olive oil for dipping of course.
Another woman was soon seated next to me. From Los Angeles, she was a distributor of Italian cheese and was checking out the market. She proceeded to order a Pizza Margherita plus the Pasta Pomodoro. Goodness… And she did eat pretty much everything! Perhaps she is also a runner. I would run in order to eat that much but my knees just wouldn’t take it. Well, I do love to watch other people enjoy their food. We had a great discussion about Italian food and cheese and enjoyed critiquing the food. I thought my Pasta Pomodoro was very good. The freshly made pasta was perfectly al dente and just the right texture. But I would like to see last night’s sauce from Scarpetta with today’s pasta…
You would think pasta with tomato sauce is the newest delicacy. While we were still eating and conversing a woman who was just leaving noticed that we were having the Pasta Pomodoro and stopped and said that she had also had the pasta and was wondering, “Did we think it was a bit salty”? I can see that I could enlist some others on my quest. There are obviously others that understand my obsession.
Tonight: Back to the Meatpacking District for dinner on this trip’s last night in New York. Pastis at the corner of 9th Ave. and 12th St. has great atmosphere. It is a quintessential French bistro with very typical French bistro food. I have to say though that the food flavor doesn’t quite have that “je ne sais quoi”? Sometimes you just have to have sourdough bread in San Francisco, bistro food in France and steamed crabs on the Eastern Shore. I think it must be the water.