The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Eataly Chicago

The bus I took to Chicago deposited me right smack downtown where I immediately realized that it was the day of the annual St. Patrick’s day parade.  The whole area was packed with tens of thousands of people and, since I was right by the train station, almost all were suburbanites.  Ugh.

Add to that it was about noon and the majority of them were already inebriated. Double-ugh.

As I mentioned before, the Irish in Chicago were generally nowhere near as friendly to me as the Italians.  I needed to find refuge from all those green-clad lightweights.  So it was perfectly fitting that I was able to found myself at Eataly Chicago.

Eataly over

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I don’t even know what to call this place – it’s monstrous with fifteen different restaurants, classes, deli, wine, groceries, and other food-related wares.  The Sicilian calls it a tourist trap and I can certainly see that.  But tourist traps are nowhere near as serious about their food.  When I think of those places, I envision Rainforest Cafe and Cheesecake Factory – places that are completely formulaic and mostly bland.   Eataly is different with its incredible selection of  many hard to find items.  They are also committed to high quality ingredients and working with local resources and distributors.

Eataly originated in Italy and there are 27 of them around the world – 10 in Italy, 13 in Japan, 1 in Dubai, and 1 in Turkey.  The Chicago location opened in early December 2013, joining New York City as the only US outlets. In the US, they’ve partnered with celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Bastianich.

First stop – Cappuccino

First stop – Cappuccino

Nutella Bar – Damn, I just ate.

Nutella Bar – Damn, I just ate.

Wine – This was just the red section. I’ve never seen a bigger collection of Barolos in one place.

Wine – This was just the red section. I’ve never seen a bigger collection of Barolos in one place.

 

Deli – This is going to be dangerou

Deli – This is going to be dangerous

Perfect! I just ran out of Parmesan

Perfect! I just ran out of Parmesan

Porchetta – Seeing that I’ve had Porchetta Three Ways, of course I couldn’t turn this down. They sliced it super thin, like regular deli meat. It was ok like this, but I prefer it warm.

Porchetta – Seeing that I’ve had Porchetta Three Ways, of course I couldn’t turn this down. They sliced it super thin, like regular deli meat. It was ok like this, but I prefer it warm.

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What I didn’t get a picture of was the restaurant food. The waiters at the various restaurants walked around too quickly and I got the stink eye from the people eating there.   I made a mental note to come back for the prime rib sandwiches, the calamari, and the whole branzino. And the pizza. And the steakhouse. Maybe the brewpub. Definitely the wine bar.

Heck, I guess I better just make a weekend of it.

Have you been to any of the Eataly’s?  

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Eataly on Urbanspoon
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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

17 comments on “Eataly Chicago

  1. El Guapo
    April 16, 2014

    I’ve been to the one in NYC, and it was mindblowing. Seriously, I had no idea half the food I saw was even out there.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 17, 2014

      I wish they had more in terms of hard to find cookware and gadgets, but if I suppose having to settle for great food selection’s doable

  2. Vanessa-Jane Chapman
    April 16, 2014

    Ahhh food heaven! I’ve never been to, or even heard of an Eataly, but a quick Google search tells me it has recently come over to the UK, so there is hope for me to experience it! Looking at your pictures there, the deli is the area they would have to eventually drag me away from!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 17, 2014

      I bought some cheeses and the Porchetta. I had many other places to go that day so really couldn’t buy much. Next time for sure. Hope you get to the one in UK!

  3. Laura
    April 16, 2014

    I love the one in NYC (when you can get by the hordes of tourists), but I find it completely overwhelming too. Then I heard the Chicago one was even bigger than NYC, so I can’t even imagine how much awesomeness is in there.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 17, 2014

      There were hordes… but, if I was still there I could imagine going there for lunch and happy hour a lot. I’m thinking weekdays might be less crazy.

  4. elizabeth
    April 17, 2014

    I had really, really high hopes for Eataly when it first came to New York, but I don’t know if it was the layout or what, but something felt very off to me. The food is (mostly) amazing, if a touch overpriced, but it seem so monolithic and corporate for something that claims to be Slow Food. It just lacks the energy and heart of what I would expect of the chefs in mention, and that makes me only want to see it as a distraction instead of a place to regularly visit.

    The Chicago location was slightly better, but it still had too many people to make anyone feel comfortable. It was just too much for me and it wasn’t enjoyable–probably because no one working there seemed to be stoked to working that shift. I dunno. I left a decent tip, but I hope some of it went to the guy who made sure I had water before the waitress deigned to ask me any questions and then passively wait on me as things went on for the entire meal.

    Ugh

    • elizabeth
      April 17, 2014

      Seems* so monolithic

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      April 17, 2014

      Bad service is the worst… And it was definitely crowded. But if I were still working in Chicago, I could see it not being so bad on weekdays.

      And I know what you mean about corporate and monolithic. It’s a trade-off – I’d love it if it were quaint or more personal, but it wouldn’t have all that selection. It’s like Disneyland – everything’s a tad fake and planned, but it’s still a helluva lot of fun.

  5. Megan @ MegGoesNomNom
    May 4, 2014

    Oh, weird, I JUST had Eataly recommended to me recently! Going to Chi next month; will probably check it out!

  6. Yinzerella
    June 5, 2014

    I am going later this month. Very excited. We’re also going to Moto (I think that’s the name) and Aviary. Any other recommendations? Maybe in Chinatown?

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      June 5, 2014

      Holy balls! Those are two killer places. Very avant garde. Chinatown is good – fave is Phoenix for dim sum. Check out little goat, Longman & Eagle, EL Ideas, Mexique Publican is right by Aviary. Best Gastropub I’ve been to

      • Yinzerella
        June 5, 2014

        That’s just what I wanted—a good dim sum recommendation.

        We are going to the Wine Enthusiast Red & White Bash while I am there. I am going to drink all of the wine.

        All of it.

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          June 5, 2014

          Sent u an email on ur Yahoo acct. send me email if u need any other recommendations.

  7. jbdieter
    July 6, 2014

    While lots of foodies think Eataly is too touristy, for us common folk its like a heavenly amusement park. I loved it and was able to post a picture on the blog Musing about Eating and Boozing.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      July 7, 2014

      I’ve been called an elitist foodie and I LOVED te place. If it weren’t for so many other choices in Chicago, I’d have gone back there several times

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This entry was posted on April 16, 2014 by in Dining, The Chi, Travel and tagged , , , , , , .
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