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Eataly - A Cultural Experience

By Alexandra Faszewski

 

Many individuals associate Italian food with the loving, painstaking way it is prepared. Incredible attention and passion are put into the dishes. Perhaps this is why Italian cuisine has experienced popularity in many corners of the world. That success is only expected to climb with the recent opening of Eataly Boston, the latest of Oscar Farinetti’s Italian marketplaces.

In the style of a typical European market, Eataly's marketplaces consist of restaurants, a cooking school, and many booths selling different edible wares. Farinetti began brainstorming the first Eataly in 2002 and eventually opened the original store in 2007 in Turin, Italy. Eataly was meant to be an area where fine Italian food and drink convened under one roof, where civilians could eat, shop, and learn all at once. Each location is a celebration of Farinetti’s country and heritage.

Since 2007, over 30 Eataly locations have opened. Most are located in Italy itself, but there are various stores internationally, in countries such as Japan, Germany, and Turkey. Plans are constantly in the works for further expansion as well.

At Eataly Boston’s grand opening on November 29, 2016, Mayor Marty Walsh said, “Boston is very proud to be the fourth location for Eataly in the United States. Boston’s Eataly has an important focus on food sustainability and supporting local produce markets and farmers, and they offer a truly unique way to experience Italian culture with a European-style marketplace, rich with goods from all over the world. I am excited that Eataly has chosen Boston for their new location and encourage residents and visitors to enjoy all that the marketplace has to offer.” 

Italian food is especially popular in Boston, so expanding into this city seems like a no-brainer. Besides the Italian fare Boston is already known for, however, there were other draws. It seemed that Boston embodied the European atmosphere — the same atmosphere that Oscar Farinetti and his son Nicola were recreating.

“When I first came to Boston, I fell in love with the city. It felt like the most European city that I’ve ever visited in the states — the people, the buildings, the North End; I immediately felt like it was home,” said Nicola Farinetti.

Each Eataly location has its own theme, making it entirely possible to visit every single one and have a new experience each time. Eataly Smeraldo of Milan is dedicated to music, the Istanbul location involves history, and Eataly Boston pays homage to the sea.

“The sea represents constant change and discovery, always covering the same ground with different parts. It unites us all and reminds us of our shared voyage. In fact, Boston was founded by seafaring pilgrims!” said Farinetti.

What this means for the Boston location is that the restaurants feature special seafood dishes as well as many other perks, such as seafood-specific cooking classes in La Scuola, the cooking school on location. In addition, many of the offerings in the marketplace focus on the ocean and its food; some of these booths provide tastings, and all will happily provide suggestions on preparing or selecting the fish. One of the restaurants on location, Il Pesce, is helmed by local chef Barbara Lynch and features fresh seafood; it even boasts Il Crudo, an attached raw bar. 

“We met so many wonderful local purveyors and fishermen that provide us with the best ingredients. We felt that dedicating Eataly Boston to the sea and its food was the best way to show what we love to do: The sea does not only divide the countries where we love, but it also brings them together…Because of the sea, we get to know and understand each other,” said Farinetti.

Eataly is also proud to offer sustainable, locally caught seafood. These fish are brought to the restaurants and the customers as fresh as possible; it is safe to assume the fish on your plate was caught the morning of your visit, or at least the day before. Mainly coming from the coast of Maine down to Rhode Island, fish are bought whole and cut in-house.

“We strongly believe that eating what is seasonal and abundant simply tastes better,” said Farinetti.

Besides Il Pesce, the Boston location offers two more sit-down restaurants for those who would rather rest their aching feet after traipsing through the marketplace. La Pizza & La Pasta focuses on two of the Italian classics — pizzas and al dente pasta. The pizzas that are offered are in the style of the traditional Neapolitan pie. If one is looking for a special pasta dish, their pastas will not disappoint, either. Dishes are cooked either with pasta made fresh and daily at Eataly’s pasta counter, or with bronze-extruded pasta hailing all the way from Campania, Italy.

La Piazza, on the other hand, is meant to look like an Italian city square and is a feast for not just the belly but the eyes as well. Some of their offerings include shareable meat and cheese platters, made even more mouthwatering with Eataly’s fresh, hand-pulled mozzarella. Another unique draw to La Piazza is La Cucina, a corner of the restaurant that functions as a rotating-concept area dedicated to the 20 regions of Italy and their dishes. Each season brings a new chef from one of these regions to share his or her cuisine.

In 2017, a fourth restaurant will be opening on the third floor. Construction and most details are kept under wraps, but the Eataly team has revealed that the restaurant will be called Terra. It will seat 112, bringing the seat count at all four restaurants to 428 in total. These restaurants provide plenty of options, but with Eataly’s popularity, be prepared to still be waiting for a table!

Eataly Boston boasts several features exclusive to its location, but none as exciting as the cannoli cart. The cart can be found in the marketplace and offers filled-to-order cannoli, just like those in Sicily. The attending pastry chef is on hand to prepare and fill the cannoli. Whether one prefers the traditional flavors or has a wicked sweet tooth, there is an appealing option. Customers can choose between ricotta, chocolate, or candied fruit fillings. Stopping by the cannoli cart for an indulgent treat may easily be the best way to wrap up an outing at Eataly.

In the near future, the Farinettis will be opening two more Italian stores, in Verona and Trieste; the first Canadian location, in Toronto; three European locations in London, Paris, and Stockholm; and two more in the United States, in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The father and son duo is also working on continuous expansion in the Middle East.

Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., (617) 807-7300; eataly.com


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