December 11, 2010 - If I could imagine what heaven is like, it would be exactly like Eataly. When I walked through its pearly gates, I thought I had died and gone to heaven - Eataly is a foodie's paradise. Anything your heart desires in fresh fish, cheese, produce, meats, pastas, coffees, and desserts can be found here.
Mario Batali's Eataly, founded by Oscar Farinetti and Luca Bassigo, is one of the largest Italian marketplaces in the world. The original market, located in Turin, Italy, is half the size of the New York City market located at 200 5th Avenue in the Flatiron District.
I, unfortunately, wasn't able to shop and bring home any groceries since I was traveling by train. Next time I visit the city, I will plan to drive so I can buy some of the high quality olive oils, pastas, canned tomato sauces, vinegars, fresh seafood, meats, cheeses, and anything else I can put my hands on. I literally could go on and on about all the amazing produce, meats, and other groceries but you really must visit and witness Eataly for yourself.
I had wandered down to Eataly around lunch time so I decided to sit at Il Pesce, the fish bar, and order a little something to eat. Il Pesce is run by Dave Pasternack, who is also the executive chef of Esca, located at 402 West 43rd Street. Dave just so happened to be at Eataly that afternoon and was kind enough to take a picture with me (see below). Dave, by the way, has lots of family in Montgomery County, MD, where I live - who knew? Since meeting Dave, I've read some reviews of him and his restaurant. Esca is a southern Italian restaurant that mainly serves seafood. One review gave Dave the nickname of the "fish whisperer," and after eating at Il Pesce, I can certainly understand how he got that nickname. I look forward to visiting Esca on my next trip to the city.
I decided to order the crudo trio tasting which consisted of three different kinds of raw fish - mahi mahi, diver scallop, and orata. The seafood was very fresh and was drizzled with a nice olive oil. The pistachios on top of the mahi mahi and the pomegranate seeds served with the diver scallop added a nice touch. The crudo was exactly what I was looking for - something light and not filling.
Ordering a glass of wine on an empty stomach may have been my biggest mistake of my New York City trip. I'll get to why in a minute. I ordered a glass of the Perdera, a Sardinian wine made from 90% Monica, 5% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo grapes grown in the Argiolas’ Perdera vineyard. I remember this wine having a mix of both fruit and earth with some tannins. It was a well balanced wine with a nice finish. I enjoyed it very much.
Ok, now to why ordering a glass of wine was a big mistake. It's no secret that I'm a lightweight when it comes to drinking alcohol. I essentially can't drink more than one or two glasses of wine. I basically drank this glass on an empty stomach - the wine went straight to my head and I somehow left Eataly that day without my camera. I discovered my loss later that evening. Losing my camera made my lunch at Eataly incredibly expensive!
Next I decided to order the monkfish liver. This had a very interesting texture and tasted very close to foie gras. I wasn't sure at first if I liked it but it seemed to get better with each bite. I've decided that if you want to eat foie gras that this is a more humane way to go - I would think it would be nearly impossible to force-feed a monkfish in the same way they force-feed a duck.
Final note - I would highly recommend visiting Eataly as often as you can. I plan to go each and every time I visit New York City.