After our first visit to Eataly NYC Downtown, we casually remarked that it felt like we had taken a trip to Italy. When we arrived home in Chappaqua, we noticed that the logo on the small brown paper shopping bag I had been carrying eerily read:
“Took a quick trip to Italy.”
Mission achieved. No packing or passports required.
Locations, locations, locations
Eataly NYC Downtown is located on the third floor of 4 World Trade Center in the heart of the city’s financial district. As part of the restoration of the World Trade Center complex, this 74-story skyscraper was rebuilt after 9/11.
No two Eataly’s are exactly alike. Customers approach this one, which only opened in August 2016, via an escalator from the lobby. A PATH train station sits conveniently underneath the building. This dazzling store is the younger sibling of the NYC flagship Eataly in the Flatiron District, which opened in 2010.
Eataly NYC Downtown is the fourth branch in the U.S. (Others are based in Boston and Chicago.) Since opening in Turin, the gourmet Italian food emporium has grown like wildfire, with 15 stores currently operating in Italy and additional branches opening rapidly across the globe. (We were first introduced to Eataly in Bologna in 2008, where the gourmet food store was lodged inside a bookshop.)
The Eataly NYC Downtown store is bright, spacious and inviting. In 2015, Fast Company magazine called Eataly the most innovative company of the year. In an accompanying editorial, it lauded the business for “building a grocery empire that looks nothing like a grocery store.”
if you are an Italophile or a foodie, you can’t help but fall in love with this store. Let me count the reasons why:
1) The store has heart
The sales personnel (many of whom are native Italians) are warm, friendly and inviting. It’s a mega-store but it doesn’t feel like one. Think of what it’s like to enter a small intimate market where people are proud of their wares and love talking about them to customers. That’s what you’ll find in Eataly. When I began salivating over a piece of chocolate chip focaccia, one of the breadmakers cheerfully cut off a piece and implored me to try it.
2) The store has great signage.
The store is set up like a series of little markets with signage, both whimsical and wise, that alerts you to what’s there. Products are organized by type, rather than producer, so each area of the store offers a choice of items by various manufacturers, whether you are shopping for organic pasta, anchovies, truffles, olive oil or biscotti.
3) All the products have an Italian pedigree.
In the spirit of Pellegrino Artusi (who unified Italian cooking), Eataly offers specialty foods from nearly every region of Italy. For example, the Piadina stand specializes in the breads of Emilia-Romagna. Take a peek at some of the offerings:
4) You’ll learn something each time you visit.
Visitors can learn about the foods and wine of Italy through classes, demos, displays and discussion. We visited the store during a week when the store was celebrating the foods of Emilia Romagna. So twice each day, for example, classes were held at Foodiversita to introduce customers to one of the region’s most important DOP products, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
We learned about pasta and cheese by reading some of the wall signs and found out about fish by speaking to the fishmongers.
5) There’s much more than food.
In addition to selling packaged, fresh and prepared foods, Eataly more broadly is a purveyor of Italian culture. There are books about Italian life and cooking, kitchen appliances, a Lavazza Italian coffee bar, and more. The store has four casual restaurants, one of them upscale; six take-away counters; a coffee bar and a wine bar (which is strategically poised at the entrance).
Eataly NYC Downtown isn’t a store; it’s a destination.
The raison d’etre for our visit was a dinner invitation to celebrate the foods of Emilia Romagna that was held at Osteria della Pace, a private dining room tucked in the corner of the store. But like the trains in Italy (and New York), sometimes 7-course dinners with wine-pairings run late. Our dinner ended just before the store was due to close at 11PM.
We bemoaned the fact that we didn’t have the opportunity to take home a little bit of Italy from Eataly but we certainly plan on another trip there in the near future!
“There is no distinction between restaurant and retail: You can eat and buy, or buy and eat.” – Nicola Farinetti, CEO, Eataly
IF YOU GO
Eataly NYC Downtown
101 Liberty St, New York, NY 10006 (4 World Trade Center, 3rd floor)
Open 7AM – 11PM daily
- Prices at Eataly are high but you’re paying for quality food, much of which has been imported.
- Be cautious not to shop feeling hungry, or you’ll over-buy!
- It’s a great place to find gifts for special people in your life. If you don’t live near a branch of Eataly, take advantage of their mail order offerings.
Previously on More Time To Travel: