It's massive, and it's loaded with more than two dozen opportunities for eating. At 63,000 square feet, the latest Eataly is much bigger than the measly 50,00 square-foot version in New York. The trio behind it-- including Joe and Lidia Bastianich, as well as Mario Batali-- say this one is quite a bit different.
"Chicagoans are more open to innovation, they're more thoughtful, they're different than New Yorkers, they're not as obsessed about what's happening exactly right now, but they're very aware of what's happening right now," said Batali.
Such as a Pizza-Pasta concept, where blistered pies emerge from a wood-burning oven, and handmade pastas-- like squash-stuffed ravioli as pretty as a flowe-- are paired up with ancillary counters.
"They're mostly in support of the retail concept," said Batali. "The pasta place has the Pizza Pasta; the fish store has the Il Pesce restaurant; the butcher has La Carne restaurant."
And while you gawk at the meat-aging coolers, slip into some carne crudo, or beef tartar. The Piazza offers high tables to stand against, while you dig into homemade mozzarella with aged prosciutto, or a sampling from the fried bar, where rice-and-cheese-stuffed arancini are always available.
Downstairs, time for dessert at the gelato bar-- with both regular and soft-serve versions-- plus a Chicago-only Nutella Bar, where cupcakes, crepes and pieces of grilled bread are all accented with the sweet, rich hazelnut spread.
"I recommend you find a nice glass of wine and just wander around, unfettered," said Batali. "Look at it like you're in a town, and you're just wandering around. Have a little bite of something everywhere. That said, I would always have a glass of wine first."
43 E. Ohio St.
open Mon - Sun., 10 am - 11 pm
Parking (with a $20 Eataly purchase):
Garage at 10 E. Grand Ave. (The Shops at North Bridge)
0 - 60 min.: Free
61 min. - 3 hours: $10
3 hours or more: regular prices