Shop Boston’s Piazza: Eataly at the Prudential

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Alright, I’ll admit it.  I was a skeptic when I heard Eataly was coming to Boston.  “We have our very own North End,” I thought “why do we need Eataly here?”  After a tour of Eataly Boston I’m convinced we do need it here and that the North End has one role and Eataly Boston has another and they both will co-exist for the greater culinary good in Boston.

Mario Batali, the orange-croc-clad chef, recently led our group through Eataly Boston a project that he shares with Founder and creator of Eataly, Oscar Farinetti and CEO of Eataly Nicola Farinetti.  He looks as if he’s singing a aria in an opera. The passion each of these three men have for Eataly is palpable and it is not just about the business.  It is about a love for their heritage and a desire to  find really good food, bring it to Boston from Italy and from local vendors (this part really hooked me), and encourage people to buy and eat better ingredients.

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I like to shop every couple of days for my groceries because I want fresh food, and I want to buy what I feel like eating that day.  If you live or work in the area, you can easily do that at Eataly Boston.  You can use it as your own tiny little Italian village.  Pick up a quick coffee and pastry for breakfast and buy some ingredients to cook at home later (assuming you have a fridge at the office).  If coming into Boston isn’t a daily thing for you, Eataly Boston has enough going on to make it a culinary destination for the weekend or the evening.  A new kind of date night.

Eataly Boston brought in so many of my favourite local culinary artisans that I knew they were doing things right.  Lourdes Smith of Fiore di Nonno, stopped selling her cheese at the local farmer’s markets and I have been missing them ever since.  Now, she’s back and making cheeses with a talented crew at Eataly.  Savenor’s Ronald Savenor and New England Charcuterie’s Joshua Smith (of Moody’s Deli and The Backroom) are behind the meat and charcuterie as are local vendors VT 99 from the folks at Jasper Hill Farms and Stillman’s (where we often get our turkey for Thanksgiving.) Barbara Lynch is at the helm of the seafood restaurant within Eataly. Red’s Best is bringing in some amazing seafood from local fishermen and women.

Batali emphasized that Eataly is not a place to just come eat.  The goal is for people to come eat well, but then to take the next step. Batali wants to encourage people to pick up the ingredients that have been carefully vetted and prepare them at home.  Great ingredients only need a little seasoning and a simple preparation to be amazingly delicious and Batali and his crew have taken care of the hard part, sourcing the ingredients.

During the winter, when the farmer’s markets are closed, I definitely plan on popping over to Eataly while my daughter is in ballet class to pick up some prepared foods for her dinner on late nights and some ingredients to cook for the rest of the week. Over Thanksgiving, we were in London and Paris and were spoiled by all the little boutique food shops and markets.  I love our MA markets but they are nothing like even the most ordinary markets in France. Our travel budget is used up for the year, but I can’t wait to take the kids to a trip to Italy (in Boston) and spending an afternoon or morning perusing Eataly Boston and grazing as we go.

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Eataly Boston opens at 800 Boylston St, Boston tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29th.  Eataly Boston is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.  

The marketplace is divided into little areas each like its own store and includes: antipasti, bakery, beer and wine, butcher, coffee and tea, fishmonger, fresh produce, la gastronomia (Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich’s favourite recipes to go), la pasta fresca (fresh pasta), mozzarella lab (the best tasting mozzarella and burrata I know of), olive oils and vinegars (pick up some for the best vinaigrettes), pasta, rice and grains, salumi and formaggi (charcuterie and cheese – cold cuts just doesn’t sound right so I’m sticking with the French translation), sauces and pestos, and sweets (yes that includes gelato).

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If you insist on using Eataly as your own personal, very fab cafeteria, there is:  Caffè Lavazza, Caffè Vergnano, Cannoli Cart, Pastella Creperia Italiana (crêpes), I Panini & Le Ciabatte and Focacceria (amazing breads, pizzas, and focaccias), Juice Bar, Il Gelato (ice cream to a whole other level), Il Vino (wine bar- a glass of wine at lunch is accepted and expected -you’re in Italy now), La Rosticceria (the most amazing roasted meats), and as Batali put it “The Crossroads between the sacred and the profane.”  the Pasticceria (pastry shop) sits kitty corner to the Salad Bar.  Who will you listen to this week the angelo or the diavolo?

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Learning to make spaghetti with a “guitar” in La Scuola

Lastly, if you aren’t in a hurry to go anywhere, pull up a chair at one of the 4 restaurants or book a class at La Scuola.  The restaurants include: Il Pesce, Barbara Lynch’s project, La Piazza, La Pizza & La Pasta, and Terra.

Mark your calendar, and pick a day for a trip to Eataly Boston this winter.  While you are there you could probably take care of all those teacher gifts and holiday shopping you need to do too.

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