Took me about 30 mins to get in at 7. The one day I decided to go try Il Pesce, is the day Cimirusti wasn’t in. It was terrible completely under-cooked pasta and it was over-salted (there were still grains of salt, which I had initially thought was sand from the clams). While the fish on the other hand was under-salted, which I did not mind due to the pasta. Most tables that were within view were sending back their dishes. I’d assume it is due to their first night without Cimirusti.
Berlin’s should totally do this. They already have a chicken doner wrap on their menu that’s the same basic idea.
Finally, happened to be in the area around 5 o’clock yesterday (Wednesday) and decided today might be my day.
It surprisingly wasn’t very crowded at all… So much for first impressions.
I will start by saying that walking into this place is like walking into my version of the happiest place on earth. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like cheese, bread, and piles of cured meats?
I really do not know where to start, because there were so many things I liked and so much I do not like about this place.
It is way too hard to try it all. I only got to try a few things. You have to pick and choose your battles. Choose wisely, friend. So here’s my limited experience of the dining.
PIZZA ALLA PALA
They say it’s Roman pizza but I never had pizza like this when I was in Rome. The pizza, was some really delicious bread, crunchy on the bottom and back crust, chewy, too rustic for me to think of as pizza but enjoyed it. Margherita ($4.80) had one little speck of cheese on it (see photo), but as someone who hasn’t had carbs since May, it was a definite treat.
The brussel sprouts & pancetta with scamorza was calling me but had to make a tough choice. So I went with the sopressata fontina romana ($7.80). Spicy and smokey and salty. Made me want to go to the salami section and buy some to go.
I think La Pizza & La Pasta’s pizza style and menu will be more to my liking so I look forward to trying that.
IL PESCE CUCINA
I have nothing bad to say about this. It was an escape from the frenzy going on in the rest of Eataly. I Enjoyed it a ton. Simple menu with a few shareable apps, a few salads, a few pastas and a separate crudo menu.
I was already pretty full from my carb overload on the pizza.
So me and the wifey each got the wild catch of the day, “pesce del Mercado.” Pick the fish and one of three styles.
Black Cod prepared “Livornese,” Capers, olives, garlic, tomatoes, with extra virgin olive oil ($26). Velvety goodness was great in the briny sauce.
Wife had the Porgy ($26) prepared grilled with herbs and olive oil. It was on the salty side but it was simple deliciousness. You need some patience with the bones but it is worth it.
My wife knows how to eat this, of course I helped.
What was left reminded me of the scene in the movie ‘Airplane’
The garlic sautéed spinach was very salty.
LA PASTICCERIA & VENCHI
Hey, I already busted my carb day wide open. Why not a panna cotta with streusel and $10 worth (10 pieces?) of killer chocolate (the milk chocolate with piedmont hazel nut cream was easily my favorite. Went great with the espresso from…
Solid espresso. Wifey got The hot chocolate with whip. No place to sit. Don’t even bother trying, Get it to-go.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF EATALY
Based on my first short visit (short? It was 2 1/2 hours)…
Once you get past the wonder of all the counters, the amazing meat and seafood at the market, the bread, salumi and fresh made mozzarella and burata the rest of it wears thin.
Seriously, there was no line to get in and we thought, “wow, it’s not that crowded.”
Did not matter.
Eataly is mass confusion. Chaos. Not the place to go and have a relaxing meal, unless you’re going to go to Il Pesce Cucina. It was the only place that seemed normal, and relaxed. I guess the same could be said of the roasted chicken station, and the salad bar as there were no lines there.
PIzza alla Pala was a perfect example. Four people in line in front of us, one with a shopping cart. It still took 20 minutes. The pizza is prepared, they should be able to grab a piece put it on on the wooden plank, and get you to the cashier who should just be ringing people up. This seemed like a theme at the other counters too.
Eataly really lacks seating. I love seeing giant wheels of reggiano everywhere, my favorite cheese, but they need to find a way to get more seats in there. People were standing around with food in hand and no place to go with it.
Worse was downstairs. Don’t bother even trying to sit. Get everything to go.
I honestly do not think with this setup that there will be a way to get rid of the chaos. It was not that busy compared to the hordes that were there early on and still it was nuts. Grand Central market is a sleepfest compared to this place.
I want to go back, just don’t know if I will have the patience. Then, again…
Anyone tried the rosticceria yet? NY Eataly does porchetta and prime rib sandwiches to die for.
Has anyone noticed whether Eataly sells jam crostata? I’m thinking of picking one up for Thanksgiving.
Agree 100% - it is not Roman pizza. More like a very tasty variant of focaccia.
I waltzed right in at 2 PM - no line at all.
No line at the cheese/meat department - bought some incredible fresh sliced culatello. I know Wally’s and Guido Marcello do not carry culatello regularly (and Guido’s is presliced) so this is definitely a big “game changer” for me.
No line at Butcher shop either. Got some hot and some sweet Italian sausages which i will try tonight.
Noted Rouget (red mullet) in the fish department. From France. One of my favorite fish. Next time. I don’t see that too commonly (if at all) at Santa Monica Seafood.
I think my sense of Eataly is it is a shoppers paradise but the prepared food is not at quite the same level. But, to be fair, I have not eaten enough of the prepared foods there to say this with any real authority…
I totally agree with your assessment about it being a shoppers paradise. That fish was beautiful. As a Floridian, I was salivating at the giant slabs of grouper.
True. But it’s also new. We went last Sunday. The line weight was minimal and moving fast. In the end, we opted not to eat there because it was just too much with the staff figuring it out and as noted, the lack of seating, which was really disappointing and made it appear smaller than even the Boston Eataly! Further, there is no seating OUTSIDE either, it’s a trek to get over to the food court.
I’ve been to several Eataly now and honestly I don’t think it was the quality of the staff, but more the fact that they are still trying to get the groove. Real life is way different than practice runs. The ways tastes trends are often a surprise. We will be visiting for sure before the years end now that I see what is available shopping wise and I LOVE IT! It’s funny the pictures I took were very similar to some of the others here.
Other than the “Roman” pizza the only other thing I had was panigacci which was a disaster (cold) when they first made it, but absolutely heavenly (warm, and melty) when I requested a replacement. Hopefully that is because they are working out the kinks as you suggest.
My exact thought after I left. Great place to shop, but mediocre place to eat.
not Roman pizza. More like a very tasty variant of focaccia.
Lodge called it a Roman pie - not pizza. Could that be the difference?
Went Friday at 3 pm. Parking, no problem. Entering Eataly, no line. “roman” pizza place, 4 people in front of me, still somehow 20 minutes. “Pizza” is just sitting there getting cold, and the guy serving it is very inefficient. The pie itself is certainly no Roman pizza, and way to much bread relative to small amount of topping.
Walking around and looking at other options, Il Pesce Cucina looks very promising.
Not sure that Eataly will be my dining destination, certainly not at the current hype level.
Shopping for food, is another story. I saw (and bought) some of the food/wine I have never previously seen imported to the US or at least have very difficult time finding.
Caprino Fiorito by Guffanti was very flavorful!
If I could only find stracciatella yogurt!
Decided to hit Eataly Saturday around 5:30 p.m. with the idea of picking up some fresh fish for dinner. I can now say that there is no way I would ever voluntarily return on a Saturday. It was a really dismal experience.
I had thought I would park on the Gelson’s side, pick up some dry goods and then dash over to Eataly for the fish. However, for some reason Constellation was closed to traffic, meaning that I could not easily get to the Gelson’s side and I was dumped onto Avenue of the Stars. So I followed the signs into the new horrendous parking area off of Avenue of the Stars. People on Yelp have been complaining that the parking at the Mall is an absolute mess and that signs show open spaces when, in fact, there are none. The complainers are right. I was about to leave and abort my mission when someone pulled out, so I took the parking space and headed to Eataly.
At around 5:30 p.m., no line to get into the store, although when I left around 6:37, there was a longish line. Although there was no line to get into the store, inside was very unpleasant. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but the store was jam packed with out of control toddlers, double strollers and small, yappy erstaz “emotional support” service dogs. All of whom had to be dodged while wielding a shopping basket. Even worse, a lot of the groceries could not be perused because the displays were blocked by people waiting in line to get into the restaurants.
On my second visit, I was a lot less enchanted with the wine store than on my initial visit. I would not advise buying wine there unless you come in looking for a specific Italian wine and you know they carry it. You are not at K&L with deeply knowledgeable staff. In fact, there was no one working in the wine area at all! There was a cash register in the wine area, but no one working there which was deeply annoying because the one wine that caught my eye – a Sicilian Viognier – was missing the price sign (the bottles do not have the price listed – you have to rely on the display signs). You can pay for the wine at the front of the store, so I did end up taking the Viognier to the front of the store and buying it when it turned out that it was relatively inexpensive. As I said, you are not at K&L with a deeply knowledgeable sales staff and I certainly wasn’t going to break the bank on an unknown Sicilian Viognier.
I bought my fish, some canned goods (those I could get close enough to peruse without hordes blocking the aisles waiting to get into the food area) and some prepared vegetables and egg white frittata at the chicken station. No line at all at the chicken station – all the hordes want pizza and pasta.
By the time I got home I was in such a lousy mood that I didn’t want to cook the fish because pan frying fish in a tin lined copper pan (which is usually how I prepare fish) takes real concentration and precision (otherwise the fish sticks to the pan) and I just didn’t feel up to it. So into the fridge went the fish, and I’ll try tomorrow.
For dinner, I had the egg white frittata and the two vegetables I had picked up – escarole and broccoli. The egg white frittata was good and I wished I had bought two, since one was not filling enough. The vegetables were another story. They were so oversalted that I wondered if Eataly had asked one of the random out of control toddlers in the store if he or she would like to assist in the preparation and the toddler decided to pour a cup of salt into the preparation.
As I said, Saturday, never again. I think the difference between the New York Eataly’s and the one in Century City is the mall location. I have had an unpleasant experience in the Flatiron store on a holiday weekend, but on a Saturday night in Manhattan, I have never had to dodge double-wide strollers, roaming toddlers and ersatz emotional support dogs. Bah humbug.
Yep kids everywhere when I went too. One kid was literally touching every piece of cheese in the cheese area and licking his finger, while his parents were just watching. Wanted to tell the parents, holy shit discipline your damn kid.
Funny, I popped over there at about 4:30 to kill some time. I decided I would just check out the market. My experience was exactly the same as yours. I could not believe all the strollers and dogs around there. I know that parents don’t have an alternative, but in that store every path is way too narrow to dodge the little tiny dogs AND strollers AND the mass hordes of people wandering around aimlessly.
I stand by my original review and say that this place will always be dysfunctional.
I bought my $15 of chocolates (the bulk candies) filled with hazelnut cream for my lady and dashed.
As for the parking, I found the place to park. I hate to admit, but I drive a hybrid. Don’t let the cat out of the bag, but if you do too, go to the third floor, that’s one floor above the main Eataly entrance, there is a row of parking reserved for hybrid, zero admission, and electric vehicles nice and close to the escalator down to Eataly.
Perfect for running in and out, assuming you don’t trip over a dog, or get run over by a stroller.
Enjoyed (if that’s the right word) reading about your experience. Off-topic, but emotional-support animals are not at all synonymous w/ service dogs and the difference between the two is significant (and has legal ramifications). Just an FYI.
Why didn’t you say something?
Emotional support animals can be “legal”, think of veterans with PTSD, but there are so many people abusing the laxity of the law that it makes me nuts.
I didn’t mention the strollers on my visit, but it was a nightmare. I tripped over one, when I took a step back from whatever shelf I was perusing.
Oh my goodness. I cooked my Eataly fish. All is forgiven. This was Tarakihi from New Zealand. I’m not even that great a cook, and this tasted like something you would pay a fortune for at Providence or Le Bernardin in NYC. It’s apparently all about the ingredients. I couldn’t believe something this delicious came from my humble kitchen.
New strategy for acquiring fish from Eataly. Arrive on foot only – no parking hassles.Forget about acquiring any other foodstuffs. Mad dash to fish counter, no basket required with which to dodge the hordes since fish can easily be taken to front check out sans basket. Pay and leave and go home and have restaurant quality food.