March 4, 2021

Mario Batali’s Eataly in River North

Eataly Opening

The first time I walked by this crowded and alluring glass building in River North, I asked a doorman what it was. He replied “Eataly” so I assumed from his pronunciation that he was Italian. Maybe so, but that is the punful term celebrity chef Mario Batalia has called his new food emporium in Chicago. Hordes of people have flocked to see the 23 eateries (including sit-down restaurants, cafes and take-away stations), plus the shelves, baskets and glass cases full of sauces, sausages, pastas, wine, fish, produce, meats, breads and sweets. There is a Rizzoli cookbook section and two different gelato stands with one featuring Alpine milk plus another stand for Nutella confections, for Pete’s sake.

The lines for the restaurants have been endless, so my visits have been limited to gawking and shopping for take-away items such as interesting shapes of pasta, unusual sauces and jams, hard-to-find cheeses and salamis, Italian chocolates and fresh-baked bread. Some things are outrageously expensive, but other items have been reasonably priced. Caveat emptor.

Mario Batali’s climb to the top of the Italian food chain has not been without bumps. Restauranteur, television personality, cookbook author and foodie friend of Gwyneth Paltrow, he was sued by his staff for keeping their tips. However you feel about Mr. Batali, he is a global food force with culinary concerns in New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, California and now in Chicago. Buon appetito!

Open every day from 10 AM to 11 PM.

43 East Ohio Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Tel: 312.521.8700

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