Cheese and Parma ham are among the ingredients that lure diners to Eataly, a wonderland of Italian drink and edibles.
The last time I was in Madison Square Park, last summer, my husband Chris and I were focused on getting to Shake Shack.
"Oh look," he said, "Eataly's right there."
It was one of those situations where you don't even think of veering from track, while thinking there's always time to return. But in New York there are so many distractions that other destinations keep popping into your head and before you know it, trip's over and we totally missed this Italian phenomenon.
One of the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplaces in the world, Eataly is the work of Oscar Farinetti, Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The 50,000 square foot space in the Flatiron District is a wonderland of cured meats and cheeses, fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fish, handmade pastas prepared on the spot, or packaged to take home with you to create your own Italian meal, without much fuss on your part. Most of the heavy labor has already be done!
It's the equivalent of having a daily Italian festival of food and wine. There was so much to see on the ground floor that I didn't venture upstairs. There, private dining awaits at the rooftop restaurant and brewery Birreria, offering unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated cask ales and an Italian menu influenced by Austria and Germany.
Eataly is at 200 5th Ave. Call (212) 229-2560 or visit eatalyny.com. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sundays.
Here's a quick tour of the marketplace:
At the crudo bar, I had this trio, a special of the day featuring sockeye salmon with its own crackling, diver scallop topped with Sorrento lemon oil and ume frost salt, and black bass with radish and what we know as sea asparagus (which they call sea beans). This was $18 and the fish wasn't as good as I've had at home in Hawaii which just reaffirms my philosophy of not eating raw fish anywhere else but at home or Japan. Though the scallop was delicious.