Your descriptions and enthusiasm all but made me giggle with delight Thanks.
I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but I can’t seem to stay away from Eataly. My plan had been to work late, but I saw on Twitter that Eataly was doing a wine tasting tonight in the wine store, so my plans to work late went out the window, and around 6:00 p.m. this evening I found myself back at Eataly.
No line! No crazy crowds at the wine tasting. A rep from the importer was there sampling four Italian aperitif wines, together with olives and salumi. What’s not to like? I rarely eat meat, but I made an exception.
Then I decided to put my name on the list for an early dinner at Il Pesce Cucina, Michael Cimarusti’s restaurant within Eataly. I mean he was right there working the line in the open kitchen, so how could I not? Plus there was this green fish on display which totally transfixed me.
I overheard the hostess saying that at some point in the future, Il Pesce Cucina will accept reservations, but for now it is an annoying process where you give your name and cell phone number and are told you will get a text when your spot is ready, but be sure to come back within __ minutes because the cell phone coverage is spotty and you might not get the text. I was told a 20 minute wait (which turned out to be more like 35 minutes, although people after me were told an hour wait).
Off to peruse the wine selections. The biggest selection of Amaro I had ever seen, although alas not this one elusive Amaro (Fuoco del Vulcano) that I have been looking for forever and which apparently is not imported into this country (I had it one night at Osteria Mozza and the manager of the Eataly wine store explained it must have been “suitcase imported.”)
After perusing the Amaros, off to the dessert wine selection. Biggest selection of Italian dessert wines I have seen in this country. One was $195, which caused me to inquire why it was so much and whether it was worth it and how it compared to Chateau d’Yquem. I was told it was so expensive because it was from a very small production and it was extremely concentrated, much more so than Chateau d’Yquem. I resisted the urge to splurge, although I may return for one of the more reasonably priced dessert wines like the one shown below.
Off to hang around the Il Pesce Cucina hostess station and watch Michael Cimarusti work the line. Finally seated at the bar. Ordered the uni crudo, wilted spinach and black sea bass with herbs and olive oil. The service was not quite ready for prime time. I asked the server about the ERA ORA Piedmont Riesling by the glass and she looked at me blankly, finally admitting she had absolutely no idea what style Riesling it was. She went off to ask someone and returned and pronounced it “balanced,” which really said nothing, but I ordered it anyway. It turned out to be pleasant – not the best Riesling I have ever had – but heads above the “Two Buck Chuck” style Riesling that unfortunately is one of the few white wines by the bottle served at the Waldorf Astoria Rooftop Bar in Beverly Hills. (Don’t get me started about the wine list at the Waldorf Rooftop Bar – it is truly an enchanted setting, but next I go there I am bringing my own wine and paying $60 corkage rather than drinking the swill they serve).
Struck up a conversation with the person next to me at the bar. Speaking of off service, she said she had sat there for 45 minutes before her food arrived and her server (the same one who looked at me blankly when I asked about the Riesling) had tried to pour a second glass of red wine into her unfinished glass of an entirely different red wine. My neighbor was sitting awash in a lot of complimentary dishes which had been sent out because of her long wait, and she graciously shared with me, including a nice halibut crudo. My neighbor ended up getting her entire meal comped.
The uni crudo was quite good, as was the black sea bass, although the black sea bass was a touch oversalted. The sea bass came with a few roasted potatoes, which were delicious. They hadn’t brought me bread and initially I didn’t say anything because I’m pretty carb phobic, but toward the end of the meal, I wanted some bread to sop up the spinach, so I asked for bread and some was brought to me, together with the house olive oil.
When my bill came, I was surprised to see that the black sea bass had been comped. Wasn’t sure why, since while the service was not stellar, it hadn’t been so bad that I would have expected a comp.
Oh, the only dessert they have is tiramisu. The waitress said that is because you can go to the bakery counter and get dessert if you want. I’m not a huge tiramisu fan and with the bread I had already far exceeded the amount of carbs I normally eat, so I wasn’t heartbroken. However, if I had had a long leisurely dinner with friends, I might have been somewhat disappointed not to be able to linger over a dessert other than tiramisu.
By the time I left there were long lines at most of the food counters (although no line to get in the door). I checked the chicken counter and the roast chickens were long gone. However, if you weren’t trying to have dinner there, you could shop for groceries in complete peace and there was no line at the checkout for groceries.
The rest of the mall was pretty dead, which was interesting. The whole theory of Eataly from the mall owner’s perspective is that “experiences” like Eataly will lure people back to shopping in brick and mortar stores rather than ordering online. That remains to be seen.
I don’t live in Los Angeles. I think the prices are really reasonable for the fish. Hopefully it turns over fast and they keep it fresh. That’s worth a once-a-week trip to Eataly. Kind of reminds me of the Farmers Market on the Embarcadero in the city.
I️ did say about a month ago that Eataly was a game changer and was roundly disagreed with on this forum, but hey that’s what forums like this are for! Went this morning, it’s really nice to have access to so many high quality products under one room, and within walking distance to my home. Arrived around 9am left around 10am no line entering or leaving and mostly empty inside. Hand made pasta was not at level of NYC location but I imagine they are working out the kinks. Produce had kind of the same issue, funnily I passed on the artichokes bc I️ thought to myself, “this will be much cheaper at Ralph’s” got to Ralph’s and it was twice as expensive! I️ do wonder how much LA will really appreciate the shopping aspect, not for us, but for gen pop. I️ did talk to cashier and she mentioned that people were actually buying groceries over the weekend. My friend went prime time Sunday and reported that the line moved very fast. But yeah no way I’m waiting in line for groceries. I’ll be glad when gelsons ceases to exist, very highly prices for same product that they have at Ralph’s.
But Nakatomi Plaza IS a draw for tourists.
Agreed – game changer.
Made it in.
Wed afternoon at 1 PM - 20 minute wait outside and about 20 minute wait to order my two Panigacci.
Panigacci - in all my life I never thought this dish would be served in America, let alone Los Angeles. In Italy it is only made in a few small towns near La Spezia/Portovenere. I went once to this area, had the dish, and have been craving it ever since. You can read about panigacci elsewhere, if interested, but basically it is a pita-like bread cooked in a pizza oven or over fire, on terra cotta disks.
The texture and flavor of the bread is so wonderful and unique.
The panigacci are served PIPING HOT (this is really important, and is the part Eataly really fucks up) in a basket. The table is loaded with cheeses (strachino and gorgonzola) and meats (mortadella, prosciutto, salami) and maybe a bit of pesto, or sundried tomato sauces.
You spread the cheese on the hot bread, add whatever meat and condiments you like, and eat small piece of heaven. The breast MUST be hot to melt the rest together. Then you make another, and keep at it, again, and again, and again and AGAIN until stuffed.
At Eataly, I ordered one mortadella and one prosciutto.
Both arrived COLD. And had clearly been sitting for a while. That is not panigacci.
So I requested a proper hot panigacci which they happily complied with.
And they were…DELICIOUS.
The flavors, textures were spot on.
The only issue is you don’t get a basket of the MF’s and the chance to spread your own cheese and mix/match the meats and sauces as you would in Italy. I am fine with it though.
AS LONG AS THEY SERVE THEM HOT!
So they made it into a sandwich instead of a plate of cheese and meats served with bread? I think the version you had in sounds Italy better.
Prices are very reasonable and its part of my regular weekly grocery circuit. Terrific selection of olive oil too.
Who supplies the beef at CC?
Of course it’s better in Italy. Maybe I did not make that clear enough. This cheap facsimile is quite tasty but nowhere near as great.
And it is worthless if they serve it cold.
That looks and sounds awesome.
CiaoBob anything else caught your eye or tastebuds?
The cheeses and meats are fantastic. What a selection. Definitely game changing for LA. Lots of pasta brands I’ve never seen.
I did not have enough time to look at wines, butcher shop, fish shop or produce.
It looked like they had a variety of different farms. None that I recognized but I’m mostly familiar with the larger farms/brands. Looked very good but again expensive.
Maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough.
It sounds like in Italy you got a nice basket of hot bread, and a side platter with meats, cheeses, and garnishes. The photo of what you received at Eately looks like a mutant empanada.
I just have to say that since my dinner Monday night at Il Pesce Cucina, I have been dreaming about the simple grilled fish I ate there. And that to my mind is representative of a great restaurant – where you want to return again and again. As opposed to the vast majority of restaurants where I eat (like Craft, for example) where you think okay that was fine or pleasant enough, but you don’t have a desire to rush back, particularly the same week.
I am still in absolute awe that I can drift over to Eataly after work and have an amazing piece of fish at Il Pesce Cucina (assuming, of course, I can get in). Century City has been a food wasteland for so long.
And perhaps this is more true for people like me who live and work nearby and can drift over on foot and not deal with mall parking, but to me Eataly now means that I am living in Europe where it is just no big deal to be able to pick up cheese from the cheesemonger and fish from the fishmonger and bread from the boulangerie (if I weren’t so carb phobic), all on my way home from work. I am no longer relegated to supermarket crap for dinner. What a dream. Having lived in Paris as a student, I never thought I would see it in my backyard.
The rate-limiting step for me right now is the wait to get in during peak hrs. I can understanding waiting in line for a cafe/restaurant, but not so much for just grocery shopping. I assume things will calm down (or that I’ll learn how to time my trips).
I hear you about not wanting to stand in line to buy groceries. The way the store is laid out means that is going to be a perpetual problem during “rush hour” (which I am guessing is going to be all day and night on weekends and weekday lunch time for quite awhile) because there is no physical demarcation between the grocery section and the food counters/restaurant sections.
I was thinking of heading over to Eataly at lunch today because I figured since today is Farmer’s Market day in Century City with all the food kiosks, there would be no line to enter the store. I’m glad I made the decision to stick with the Farmer’s Market (Brothers’ Halal kabob – pretty good, especially the garlic paste) because when I checked on Twitter later, I saw that at lunch there had been a 20 minute wait just to get in the store.
Speaking of Eataly groceries, this morning, I uncorked my $16 bottle of vanilla that I bought at Eataly on Monday and put it into my morning oatmeal. It was quite delicious and I will definitely be putting it into protein shakes as well. I need to gather some other vanillas and do a blind tasting.
I was going to give it a shot yesterday, because I had to go to The mall for something. but after 45 minutes of just trying to get near the 405 from Santa Monica I gave up. Later a friend told me they went to Eataly for dinner and there was no line at all to get in.
Sucks to be me.
The 405 tax is the worst. Just soul crushing. It’s insane how much of the city opened up to me just by moving a mile or two east.