I have seen foodie paradise. It’s real, it’s glorious, and it’s called Eataly. Currently owned by Mario Batali alongside Lidia and Joe Bastianich, (just a handful of Italian idols in the world of cookery), this food hall in the Flatiron District of NYC is (not surprisingly) an absolute dream. Yes, I said food ~hall~ because well, that’s, like, what it is… an enormous hall of food– but I read that Batali “prefers the phrase ‘food temple’ to food hall”, so I’ll subscribe to that by all means. 

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Just picture it. You step inside this hallowed hall, and to your left is an espresso bar, followed by a gelato counter, followed by a panini station. To your right is a pastry counter, followed by rows and rows and rows of cheese (not to be confused with the full section of the store reserved solely for mozzarella). And straight ahead, you’ll find specialty Italian items as far as the eye can see. If you travel just a little further, you’ll find like a billion other cafés and counters carting handmade pasta, fresh meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, nutella-covered anything, and so so so much more. There’s even a restaurant on the roof!

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Here’s a brief tangent that I promise isn’t actually that much of a tangent: My mom loves the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every time she goes, she says, “I love how you could come here a hundred times and never even see everything”. Well, Eataly is my Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a sense.  It’s so much. SO MUCH. I absolutely need to come back here and try as many things as I can, because… wow. What did I try, you ask? Well, I’ll tell ya!

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After taking a lap around this massive foodie wonderland to scope out my options, I finally landed on the panini counter, because a panini is always a good idea. I decided to get the Pugliese: grilled marinated eggplant with Liuzzi Angeloni’s hand-dipped ricotta, extra virgin olive oil-poached tomatoes, basil, and mint on housemade ciabatta bread. First of all, who is Liuzzi Angeloni? I was wondering the same thing, so I looked him up.. AND HIS RICOTTA AND MOZZARELLA WON “THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS CHEESE CONTEST IN NORTH AMERICA”. This would be the contest run by THE The American Cheese Society. I, The Perky Foodie, ate the most ~PRESTIGIOUS CHEESE~ in North America!!!!!! I’m dead omg. Are you as excited by this as I am? Probably not– if you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited. It was a cheese worthy of its accolade; it was texturally superb and rich in flavor.

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The eggplant was smoky and earthy, cooked to juicy and tender perfection, and the tomatoes gave the panini a lightly sweet and acidic bite. The mint was my favorite part of this sandwich because it was an unexpected twist that made the Pugliese unique. Basil is an expected and necessary ingredient in any ideal Italian sandwich, but the mint was something really special, lending its vibrant freshness to the decadent cheese and hearty eggplant. It was bliss. 

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My friend Anna–who I should also note is the photographer for most of these photos because I’m a loser whose phone was out of storage– also got an incredible panini. Hers was the Campano, which consisted of housemade mozzarella with basil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and tomato marmalade on house-made ciabatta. I had a bite, and can attest that it was a classic executed beautifully. 

For dessert was gelato. The gelato at Eataly is handmade in small batches with high quality ingredients mainly imported from Italy. And you can tell. I had some wonderful Tiramisu gelato. The creamy vanilla base with a coffee aroma was speckled with tiramisu crumbs. YUM. 

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Left: my tiramisu gelato, Middle: Anna’s raspberry and lemon sorbet, Right: Dana’s lemon sorbet

Eataly is also right next to the beautiful Madison Square Park– ideal for cute pics with tulips, coffee, and friends– a few of my favorite things ❤

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In the US, you can find an Eataly in the Flatiron District of NYC as well as Downtown NYC, in Boston, in LA, and in Chicago, but there are also Eataly stores around the world, from Italy to Japan! You go take over the world, empire of Eataly. Fine by me. 

Yet another item has been checked off that (never-ending) NYC Foodie Bucket List of mine! Do you have more restaurants / food halls/temples / prestigious cheeses / literally anything foodie that I should check out? NYC or anywhere? Comment on this post / email me / post on The Perky Foodie Facebook page / send me a message in a bottle or by carrier pigeon or whatever other form of communication you prefer and let me know! I want to compile an expansive foodie bucket list soooooon woohooooo more fooooooood yaaaaaaay!

Enjoy! 🙂 Love, The Perky Foodie

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