One of my favorite places in the world is Italy. One of my favorite places in New York City is Eataly.
Eataly is a sprawling establishment across from Madison Square Park that contains several restaurants, an enormous marketplace, and a cooking school. It was the brain child of Mario Batali, intended to be like a European food hall. Usually, I'd be a bit cynical about projects that intend to turn American things into European institutions, but two thumbs up to Mario Batali and the Eataly team because it is really just spectacular.
One of the best things right up at the front of the store is the gelateria. Alex and I contend that Eataly's gelato is the best in the city...perhaps even good enough to rival the gelato in Italy. I've had plenty of gelato in Italy, and while nothing has really disappointed, few were memorable as the gelato in Eataly. Interestingly, at Eataly, one scoop in a cone is cheaper than one scoop in a cup! They have a smaller array of flavors than in some other places, but the flavors are simple and fresh. One of our all-time favorite combinations is the nocciola (actually Eataly's hazelnut gelato is my favorite in the world) and raspberry sorbetto. Oh, heaven! The hazelnut is creamy and thick and nutty, but the tangy raspberry is a fantastic accompaniment. The textures are different: the raspberry sorbetto is less creamy and less aggressive in your mouth, whereas two different gelati might be too thick. We cannot express our love for this gelato enough.
Eataly is famous for its gourmet Italian imports and its local offerings. Behind the gelateria (if you can bear to tear yourself away from the delicious delicious delicious station) is a jungle of a marketplace. There are stalls of fresh produce; beds of ice with glossy seafood; glass cases of meat glowing reddish; pristine platters of fresh pasta, artfully arranged and lightly dusted with flour; and shelves of products to encourage the amateur home cook to make Italian cuisine.
Another one of our go-to stations that is buried in the marketplace is stuffed to the seams with enormous loaves and hunks of rustic dark brown bread. Here, at the bread station, they also make a mean foccaccia. Now, the one best foccaccia I had was, unexpectedly, at my SAT tutor's house. His elderly mom would make all matters of incredibly fragrant Italian food while we slaved away on grammar and reading comprehension, but once in a while we were rewarded with little snacks. Her foccaccia. Oh my my my goodness. It was a crunchy little slice of bread, studded with sundried tomatoes, garlic, and herbs and then sprinkled with oil. Amazing. Saliva is rushing to my mouth as I recall this fond memory. Anyway, the foccaccia they make at Eataly is slightly different: it's a little less crunchy, more similar to a thick pizza dough. Some are plain, some have caramelized onions, but one of the best is covered in slices of prosciutto. Mmmmm, what more do you need?