Italian: Eataly

Eating Out

So I finally visited Eataly, the much-hyped Italian mega-world-store backed by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich.  Eataly offers anything you can possibly want in terms of Italian ingredients, as well as a wine bar, pizza restaurant and other dining options.  It was bright, lively, and full of delicious aromas.  Yet all I could think was:

Will someone please give me a instruction book?

Alright, so I might not be the most directionally adept person in the world, but I found it ironic that I was less lost in Italy (yes, the country) than Eataly.  Yes, there were signs telling me where everything was:

but little guidance on how everything worked.  For example, there is a large center section where diners stand at tall tables and can enjoy cheese, salumi and wine.  The place was pretty packed, but I managed to find a table spot.  I waited a while, but no one came by to take my order, so I walked around – perhaps it was a cash and carry dealio.  However, I couldn’t determine where to order the food.   Then I found a few paper menus strewn on some tables – so maybe someone was supposed to take your order after all? I determined what I wanted from the menu, and once again – tried to find out if someone was supposed to take my order I asked around, but no one knew.  After about 15 minutes, I gave up and left.

I then tried to get a seat at the pizza bar.  The wait was 2.5 hours (which I wasn’t too keen on), but I was told I could enjoy some wine and walk around.  Again, if I knew how the beverage ordering system worked, I’d consider it.  Boo.

Eataly did have some great food displays:

 

 

 

 

There was a noticeable price premium – if I were getting typical dried linguine, I’d probably purchase it elsewhere.  However, Eataly did have a good selection of harder-to-find ingredients, which was nice.

In the end, I left without buying or eating anything – Eataly is relatively new in NYC, so hopefully the experience will improve later on.  However, I found it too unorganized and not user-friendly to make for an enjoyable experience.  I’m holding off on a rating until I can visit it again.

Ironically, there was this sign at the exit:

…and I wanted to leave some feedback.  But the comment cards were at the entrance, and not the exit.  How does that make sense? I wasn’t about to loop around again, but if they really want feedback wouldn’t it be more prudent to leave the comment cards at the exit?  Boo.

Disappointing.

Eataly
200 5th Ave. (at 23rd St.)

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44 Comments

  • Reply
    lavenderpug
    December 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    thanks for the honest review. i feel like i've heard some similar things about eataly.

  • Reply
    jrzybeth
    December 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    i could not agree more. we were there on saturday and while it was fascinating and fun, i ended up more frustrated by the disorganization and crowds than anything else. i'd be willing to go again after all the hype dies down to give it another shot. i am curious to know if it's any better on a random weekday at an off hour rather than on the saturday after thanksgiving in the middle of the afternoon, which was of course the only time we could go.

  • Reply
    PartyPlannerGal
    December 1, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Aw, boo. Seems like such a good concept if they can just get the logistics down. And I would love to go there or a shop like it for hard-to-find ingredients if it wasn't so disorganized. Too bad about all the confusion!

  • Reply
    Try Anything Once Terri
    December 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I still have only walked through a few times and not actually bought anything there. It's amazing to me that it is still so crowded and busy there.

  • Reply
    lobster
    December 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    sounds intimidating! what a frustrating experience not being able to enjoy the good eats there!

  • Reply
    San Jose Love
    December 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    haha this sounds like quite an adventure. I love the name though, Eataly, so clever. and OMG those truffles are ridiculously expensive but I've never seen whole truffles in the flesh so lucky you!

  • Reply
    Katie
    December 1, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Darn, that is too bad that the store is so confusing…because it sounds like it has the potential to be amazingn! Booo…..

  • Reply
    Ali @ His Birdie's Nest
    December 1, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    How disappointing 🙁 I really want to be excited to visit Eatly, but I've read some similar reviews.

  • Reply
    Jessica
    December 1, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    ZERO apples for Eataly. Sounds like it could be an awesome place, I'm sorry it wasn't a good experience. Hope they improve soon!

    • Reply
      Cami
      March 9, 2017 at 7:09 am

      Deadly accurate answer. You’ve hit the bulleeys!

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    December 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    It sounds like one of those places where, you want help, but the place is too pretentious to ask without feeling stupid. I hate places like that! It's so uncomfortable!

    Oh, and I totally just died at the price of those truffles, HOLY CRAP!!!

    • Reply
      Brandi
      March 9, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Always the best content from these priidgoous writers.

  • Reply
    E.R.
    December 2, 2010 at 12:11 am

    100% agree with you on everything. Totally disappointed in this place. Also, FYI, when you and Christina were over for dinner, I used fresh white truffle from Eataly. They weren't that fresh at all.

  • Reply
    Lourdes
    December 2, 2010 at 5:30 am

    The place looks great—too bad about your bad experience:(

  • Reply
    Ghenet
    December 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    That's too bad! I'd heard about this place and also wanted to check it out. I think I'll follow your lead and wait until it gets less crowded, whenever that will be!

  • Reply
    Christina
    December 3, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Eek. Too bad it wasn't a good experience – the concept sounds pretty fun. That's so weird that the comment box is at the entrance… maybe they really don't want the feedback they're probably going to get at this point!

  • Reply
    Mo
    December 3, 2010 at 6:28 am

    It sounds like everyone would need a guide in Eataly!
    I agree, the comment cards should come at the exit…it would be like giving someone a comment card before they eat a meal at a restaurant! Maybe someone at Eataly will read your blog post.

  • Reply
    Big Apple Bites
    December 6, 2010 at 1:14 am

    I felt the same way when I went there. Although to be fair they had just opened 2 days before when I went and it was chaos! My friend and I were able to eat at the pizza bar, although the pizza was good and the wine delicious, I'm going to have to say that I've had better… It's a fun experience though.

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