I adore Italian food and could spend an entire day watching those cooking shows featuring chefs of Italian cuisine whipping up their Molto Magic. When I heard that celebrity chefs Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali recently teamed up to bring their signature Eataly market to Chicago, I had to check it out.
Eataly Chicago is 63,000 square feet of artisanal cheeses, meats, pastas, sweets, olive oils, wines, cookbooks, utensils and more. Located on Ohio Street in downtown Chicago, the concept is the same as the original store in Italy; to create an open market of high quality, fair priced Italian foods where people are encouraged to shop, taste and learn.
The original 30,000 square foot Eataly store opened in Turin, Italy back in 2007. Today, there are currently twenty-six Eataly stores around the world. Ten store are located in Italy in cities like Milan, Genoa, Rome, and Florence. Thirteen markets are in Japan, and there is a store in Dubai , Turkey, New York, and Chicago, respectively.
To say that Eataly Chicago is ginormous is putting it lightly. The market has twenty-three restaurants, eateries, cafes and drink stations. Inside is two floors of merchandise featuring thousands of Italian brands that you may be hard pressed to source under normal circumstances, even in major cities like Chicago and New York. The fact that so many brands are located under one roof is mind blowing.
The lines for purchasing merchandise can be long and seating for the eateries in Eataly Chicago fill up quickly, so plan accordingly. Although the Eataly pledge is to provide a diverse selection of quality food and drink at the lowest possible price point, most will find the prices to be a bit steep. Trust me, you are going to want to try everything , so it is best to bring a full wallet.
If you are interested in visiting Eataly and not quite sure where to start in this enormous market, you can sign up for a $35 “Eat-Ineraries” walking tour. The tour includes a behind-the-scenes peek at each department, an introduction to the many restaurants and shopping areas, as well as, to be treated to different tasting stations along the way.
There are also, one and a half hour long cooking courses available. On virtually any night of the week you can register for classes like; “The Art of Winter Risotto”, “Formaggio & Vino from Northern Italy”,” Meatless Monday”,” Italian Comfort Food”,” Pasta 101”. Class prices usually range between $70 – $95. You can register here.