When Lavazza invited me to tour Eataly Boston before it opens on November 29, I jumped at the chance. I work right near the Prudential Center where Eataly has been in the works for months (years?); it’s replacing a traditional mall food court that I’ve honestly been mourning just because there’s no where good to get a quick slice of pizza on my lunch hour anymore. However, with the opening of Eataly, all that’s about to change.
The first Eataly opened in Turin, Italy in 2007. There are now more than 30 Eataly stores worldwide, and this Boston location makes the fourth in the United States, with one in Chicago and two in New York City. They have massive plans to keep expanding, and after seeing the enormous space and imagining the planning that must go into it, it’s truly a wonder that they’re able to crank them out like this.
Eataly’s policy, which hangs on the wall right where you walk in, almost made me laugh out loud. The sign reads, “1st: The customer is not always right.” I’ve worked in retail—I know this to be true firsthand. But then it continues: “2nd: Eataly is not always right. 3rd: It is through our differences that we find harmony.”
Although they’re going to be selling lots of ready-to-eat food, Eataly is all about inspiring you to go home and cook. My tour guide explained that if you want to run in and grab some chicken to cook, that’s fine, but if you want to come in and spend 90 minutes talking to someone about cooking chicken, they’re here for you. That’s where that “finding harmony” bit comes in.
I was really moved by their dedication to getting products from local sources. As much as we the consumer can fight for big companies to do this, real change happens when the companies take responsibility themselves. Eataly Boston has seafood from Maine down to Rhode Island, milk and cheeses from New England dairies, even local butchers. “As an Italian store, we import as many products as possible from sustainable producers from our home country,” they explained. “However, whenever possible, we partner with local farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, and more to bring the freshest foods to your table.” On the shelves, I recognized milk from Crescent Ridge and basil from Wards Berry Farm, both within 10 miles of my home.
The eateries included inside Eataly Boston are:
- Caffe Lavazza (coffee)
- I Panini e le Ciabatte (sandwiches)
- Juice Bar (smoothies and juices)
- Le Insalate (salad bar)
- La Rosticceria (rotisserie counter)
- La Gastronomia (prepared food)
- La Focacceria (focaccia bread and pizza)
- La Pasticceria (pastries)
- Il Cioccolate Venchi (chocolates)
- Caffe Vergnano (coffee)
- Il Gelato (gelato)
- Pastella (crepes)
- Cannoli Cart (cannoli)
The supermarket section will sell:
- Fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Candies, cookies, pastries, and chocolates
- Coffee and tea
- Milk, cream, and yogurt
- Cured meats and cheeses
- Handmade mozzarella
- Meats and fish
- Freshly-baked bread
- Pasta, rice, and grains
- Sauces and condiments
- Extra virgin olive oil
There will be a large opening to Eataly from within the Prudential Center and also a street entrance at 800 Boylston Street right next to the new Tesla showroom. When you walk in from the street, the only two shops on that level are Caffe Lavazza and Pastella; the perfect spot to crab coffee and a crepe for breakfast before work.
You then ascend a large staircase (hopefully the escalators will be operational on opening day!) up to the main level.
Immediately on your left is the cannoli cart, which was actually absent during my tour because it’s stuck in customs! Their sign read something about the cannoli being so good, it’s illegal. On the right is a glassed-in store (probably due to Massachusetts’ antiquated liquor laws) that sells wine and beer.
The La Rosticceria (rotisserie) is across from the wine store and easy to access quickly from the street.
After that, we entered the promised land: rows and rows of gorgeous handmade pasta. There was even somebody working on making pasta right in front of us behind the glass.
A small section in the middle sells housewares from Italy.
Okay, I know I called the pasta area the promised land but… Then we headed over to the pizza counter. Two golden pizza ovens that cooked the pizzas for only 90 seconds at some crazy temperature like 900°F stood at the back and drew you in like a magnet. They even drizzled fresh olive oil onto the pizzas before serving them.
There was a section in the very center of the space with four different small “bars” in each corner that featured different food and drink, like meats and cheeses or raw seafood.
Beyond the four bars was the beautiful cheese counter with the most incredible selection of local and artisan cheeses. Prosciutto hung from the ceiling, and there was a refrigerated section of milk, cream, and yogurt to buy.
This section is one of the true sit-down restaurants within Eataly. This particular one, Il Pesce, is award-winning chef and restaurateur Barbara Lynch’s.
We moved onto the far wall, which housed the seafood, butcher, bread, and pastry counters.
At the end of the tour, we were near the Prudential Center entrance of Eataly. They purposefully put “quick” foods and drink near this entrance for all the business people who work in the nearby towers to be able to grab lunch to go, like coffee, sandwiches, salads, and even gelato.
We finished the tour at the grocery section of Eataly, with rows and rows of pasta, rice, grains, sauces, condiments, olive oil, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Touring Eataly in this small group was an awesome experience, because there is no doubt in my mind that it will be insanely crowded once it opens. It is truly bringing a unique culinary selection to Boston—I can’t think of a single place that’s doing something similar. I can’t wait to be able to both grab something quick for lunch during the work week and also purchase Italian delicacies, local produce, and handmade products to bring home. Eataly Boston opens to the public on Tuesday, November 29 at 4pm.
All photos ©United By Pop 2016