Bellatrix was turning 30 and as early as her 29th birthday party at Maison Publiqe, the girls knew that we were going to celebrate it with a bang in New York City. To make a long story short, 9 girls, some old friends, others who became friends a month ago, and others who had never even met each other, took cars and planes to New York City for a long weekend of luxury and indulgence. We arrived on different days, stayed in different hotels but promised each other that we would meet at different restaurants and bars throughout our stay.
“In a city of infinite options, sometimes there’s no better feeling than knowing you only have one”
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City.
Though Carrie Bradshaw was talking about men, Diva#1 is applying this quote to food. New York City has an infinite number of restaurants, cafés and bars; new ones pop up all the time, BUT if you only have time to go to one, choose Eataly. Eataly is a food lovers dream, and Diva #1 is a lover of food. Diva#1 doesn’t only go out to eat and spend her money on over indulgence and gluttony at fabulous bars and restaurants, but she also loves cooking and baking. This is why Eataly is heaven because it is a mix of an upscale marketplace with restaurants cooking with the produce found on the premises.
Seven sit down restaurants are positioned next to different market stalls: Le Verdure is next to the produce section, La Piazza next to the fresh mozzarella, charcuterie and cheese Counters, Il Pesce next to the fishmonger, La Pizza & La Pasta next to the bakery, and Manzo next to the butcher. Pranzo is in Eataly’s Cooking School and Birreria is a rooftop restaurant that brews its own cask ales. Not enough? There is also a panini counter, rotisserie counter with hand carved meats and other antipasti, and two cafés: Café Lavazza and Café Vergnano. Welcome to Eataly, where their motto is Eat Better, Live Better.
Diva #1, Sweet Pea, and Vegan Vixen walked into Mario Batali’s Eataly in search of Bellatrix and her four friends. This was the first place that we would meet on our weekend getaway. We didn’t know all the girls but Bellatrix assured us that we had something very important in common: we all loved food. We knew that Eataly would be magnificent; Bellatrix had raved about it and everyone who had been to New York in the last two years had feverishly recommended it. Our expectations were high which makes it more impressive that they were exceeded.
As we walked in our senses were overloaded: pastry counters, gelato bar, panini counter and every possible meat, fish, seafood, produce, cheese, charcuterie, poultry, pasta, and bread was available. As someone who loves to cook, Diva#1 instantly regretted her posh hotel and wished for a room with a kitchenette so that she could buy everything, run home and cook dinner. As a Diva, she wanted to sit at every one of the restaurants and try something from every menu. As a traveler on a budget, she had to control herself, something she isn’t good at.
On our way to La Pasta & La Pizza we noticed the most delicious looking fresh pasta behind a glass counter, including black truffle & porcini agnolotti, chestnut gnocchi, ravioli quadrati, squid ink tagliatelle, etc. If that wasn’t enough, both black and white truffles were underneath domes of glass, tantalizing chefs to purchase them. Somehow we all stopped excitedly talking long enough to sit down and order our food. And boy did we order a lot…
Our country bread and extra virgin olive oil arrived, perfectly Italian. After eying their cheese counter, we knew that we wanted to start with their plate of artisanal cheeses. Asiago fresco, montasio fresco, robiola, and this delicious nutty honey mixture made up a delicious plate of cheese. Diva #1 fell in love with asiago when she first had it at Sweet Pea’s nonna’s house, and the love continued at Eataly. The cheeses all tasted different and we had never tried robiola before so we were happy to discover a new cheese. We were trying to decide if we should order both the formaggi misti and the salumi misti, but after the success of the cheese plate we knew that we were in for a treat.
In Eataly we noticed many people sitting on bar-like stools against high tables sipping wine and enjoying various charcuterie platters. When our platter arrived at our table and we tasted the various cold cuts, we quickly understood its popularity. Speck, bresaola and two types of salami that we were too excited over to pay attention to their names arrived at our table. Although we were sad that Vegan Vixen didn’t want to eat meat in front of so many witnesses, we didn’t mind so much when we tasted the delicious cured meats. The bresaola was our favourite and this was definitely the best charcuterie plate that we had ever had. Too bad there wasn’t any prosciutto on the plate: Vegan Vixen cannot resist prosciutto!
Just looking at the fresh cold cuts, perfectly displayed, made you want to keep ordering cured meats and cheese while drinking copious amounts of wine. It was the perfect lunch on a beautiful fall day, and an amazing way to start out foodie NYC trip. Eatalty is amazing, even if you just want to stop in for some wine and a light snack it takes the village conception of a market and makes it gourmet and fabulous, and the Divas love fabulous!
The pizza looked absolutely amazing! Eataly makes Neapolitan pizza with San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce; many say that this is the only way to make true Italian tomato sauce. Diva #1, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen ordered the funghi pizza which was covered in sautéed mushrooms and fresh basil. Our only regret was that the mushrooms should have been properly strained because it made the center of the pizza a little soggy. In terms of flavour, the tomato sauce was perfect; the crust was both fluffy with that important crispiness, and the ingredients were masterfully combined and fresh.
If the pizza at La Pizza & La Pasta isn’t tantilizing enough, they have a counter where you can choose from a variety of different pizza options, they cut off square pieces from these large pizza pies, depending on what size you want, and voilà, fresh Italian pizza at home! Diva#1 was glad that we had tried the funghi pizza after seeing their mushroom section with tons of different mushrooms. The Divas know their mushrooms, Vegan Vixen more so because her dad picks delicious mushrooms in Montreal, and so far he hasn’t poisoned anyone! So we can admit that Eataly had some interesting varieties, a few that even we have never heard of, once again we wanted to buy everything and start sautéeing immediately.
On the other side of the table, Bellatrix & co. ordered the Versace pizza which was a typical Margherita pizza but with mozzarella di Bufala from Napoli. You could also order the mozzarella di Bufala as an appetizer and we saw plates of it going by a few times: it was a popular dish. On the pizza, the mozzarella di Bufala added the perfect fresh cheese to a simple pizza. Maybe a bit more basil would have made this dish truly spectacular but it was a great pizza. Good pizza really means a great crust, perfect tomato sauce that isn’t too acidic, and plenty of cheese; pizza at Eataly succeeded on all of these fronts.
When we were trying to figure out what to order we decided to stick to vegetarian dishes to enjoy with Vegan Vixen. After ordering the mixed cheese and charcuterie platters (we failed her here) and the funghi pizza, we decided to share two pasta dishes. The first was the ravioli di Zucca, which Sweet Pea referred to as “sex in my mouth” many times throughout the trip. It was with no competition the absolute BEST pasta dish that Diva#1 has ever tried. Based on Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen’s reactions and excessive salivating, it is safe to say that they agree. The homemade ravioli were stuffed with roasted butternut squash, grana padano and almond amaretti cookies. The almond amaretti cookies did not make the dish too sweet but were a wonderful combination with the nutty butternut squash. If this wasn’t decadent enough, it was tossed in a brown butter and sage sauce. We cannot stress how delicious this dish was. We wondered if we should return on our little 3 day trip; we told Whitey about it once she arrived and we hoped that she would insist that we take her there. On our second day of roaming around, Whitey and Vegan Vixen went into Eataly to use their washroom and Diva #1 had to hold Sweet Pea back from running in and ordering the ravioli di zucca as an afternoon snack.
Our second pasta was the very delicious spinosina con tartufo. The pasta was perfectly al dente and creamy, and the black truffle butter sauce could not be rivaled. This pasta would have been a favourite had we not tried the mind blowing ravioli di Zucca. The spinosina con tartufo was so inspiring, that Diva#1 later bought some black truffle butter, in preparation for a dinner party that was planned while walking around Eataly and salivating over their pastas, seafood, sauces and mushroom selections. If you are going to go to Eataly, you have to eat their pasta: it is perfection, and we cannot fathom how it could be rivaled.
Certain dishes on Eataly’s menu were coupled with specific wines; the spinosina con tartufo was matched with the Roso Conero 2011. We called it a day, ordered a bottle and left our little lunch feeling tipsy and happy to have enjoyed such a satisfying first meal in New York. We don’t particularly believe in wine by the glass, it is a bottle or nothing. Besides our red wine, there were also white wines and sparkling wines including Italian Asti Spumante, but we feared that if we kept drinking…we would buy everything!
One of the girls ordered the gnocchi ragu with lamb. This dish consisted of homemade potato gnocchi with braised lamb shank ragu and once again delicious grana padano cheese. The gnocchi was very dense, they could have been a touch fluffier, but the lamb was impeccable. Tender and plentiful, the sauce complimented the dish and did not mask any of the lamb’s flavour. Similarly, Bellatrix ordered the special of the day which was a tagliatelle with a rib ragu; once again the meat was tender and a perfect compliment to the tomato sauce. This dish was delicious and the best out of the tomato sauce based pastas. Long after Bellatrix was full, the rest of us were stealing bites out of her plate.
One of the girls stayed traditional Italian and ordered the penne rigate com pomodoro. The ciccarelli penne was tossed in tomato, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. You appreciated Eataly’s fresh pasta with such a simple sauce, and it is a testament to Eataly that it was so enjoyable. Another girl ordered the quadrati con ricotta e spinaci: once again their delicious homemade ravioli was now stuffed with local ricotta and spinach, and topped with tomato, wild arugula and black pepper. The ravioli is truly magnificent, each little pocket expertly stuffed with the finest ingredients. This was a wonderful dish which further exemplified our love for their ravioli.
The last dish that the girls had was a paccheri con sugo di mare pasta. A seafood pasta with shrimp, calamari and scallops with tomato, garlic, white wine, parsley and chili flakes. Another joy to devour, the seafood was not too salty and very fresh; it is nice to know that their seafood was from Eataly’s fishmonger where freshness is their dominant concern. It is hard to compete with Eataly’s restaurants because they are in a marketplace with the freshest ingredients. We were so inspired that we bought squid ink pasta and other delights for our dinner party that was planned at the different market stalls of Eataly.
Too full for dessert, although their pastry counter and gelato looked spectacular, we roamed the market trying not to buy everything. There were so many to choose from but if we had to pick one, the best stall at Eataly had to have been the cheese stall: the selection was overwhelming but Diva#1 gleefully left with a black truffle cheese that rivaled the rest. They allowed her to try a few and were more than helpful in assisting her to narrow down a choice.
Diva#1 left with a delicious cheese perfect for the wild mushroom risotto, with the mushrooms picked by Vigen Vixen’s dad, and the sauce made with the black truffle butter and truffle cheese purchased at Eataly. Truly a combined effort, this dinner party will be spectacular. According to Carrie Bradshaw, New York is the city with infinite options. In terms of eateries, the Divas see no comparison; New York is a foodie’s heaven. But if you have to choose one, go to Eataly, it will satisfy your inner chef and glutton, there is no better feeling than knowing that you only have one option.
Our Rating: Always on Thursday
Tagged: 200 Fifth Avenue, 5th Ave, Always on Thursday, Antipasti, Asti Spumante, bakery, Birreria, Butcher, Charcuterie, Cheese, Cooking School, Eataly, Eataly Batali, Eataly New York, Eataly NYC, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fish, Flatiron, Gelato, Gnocchi, Gramercy, Il Pesce, Italian, La Piazza, La Pizza & La Pasta, La Pizza & La Pasta Eataly, La Pizza & La Pasta NYC, Lamb Ragu, Le Verdure, Manhattan, Manzo, Market, Marketplace, Mozzarella, Mozzarella di bufala, Mushrooms, Napoletana Pizza, Napoli, Neapolitan Pizza, New York, New York City, NYC, NYC restaurant, Panini, Pasta, Pastry, Pizza, Pranzo, Ragu, Ravioli, Ricotta, Rossopomodoro, Salami, Salumi, San Marzano tomatoes, Seafood, Shrimp, Tartufo, Truffles, USA, wine