The much anticipated, long awaited moment has arrived: Eataly has now opened. This 63,000 square foot behemoth brings the wonders of Italian wine and cuisine to Chicago. It's a gleaming white palace with extravagant chandeliers. You'll want to move in and invite your best friends to be your neighbors.
Why am I, and apparently all other media outlets, so enamored with what is essentially a food court and gourmet shop? Because Eataly's singular focus on Italian food and wine is done exceptionally well. The coffee is Lavazza; the mozarella is made by hand daily, as is the pasta. Their meat wouldn't know an antibiotic if it sauntered up and said hello. They offer over 100 olive oils and over 1000 wines. Walk by La Pescheria and you'll hear "Under the sea". Stroll by the bakery and you'll never even consider a low carb diet again. The combined Salumi and Formaggi will have you wishing it were warm outside just so you could take them on a picnic. As if that weren't enough there's a counter devoted entirely to Nutella. NUTELLA.
Seriously. This place is awesome.
Of course, you can have all of that and not evoke the kind of response Eataly has managed to elicit. A lot of it also has to do with their culture. In their world, the customer is not always right. However, neither are they. The fact is some people can be jerks and everybody makes mistakes. The trick is working together to have the best possible experience.
They also have a manifesto that explains their philosophy. It includes statements like "Our target audience is everyone," which means that it doesn't matter if you're coming in for a loaf of bread or are planning a meal for thirty, they'll take the same care. One of my favorites is "We're in love with food," which is so obvious as to not need stating.
Well, Eataly, it seems that Chicago is in love with you. Welcome to the neighborhood.