Eataly, New York's new 50,000-square-foot emporium of Italian food and wine, opened last week. Located in the Toy Building at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, it offers everything from pasta and olive oil to gelato and coffee, including a shop selling Italian wines and a selection of specialty beers.
The man behind the concept is Oscar Farinetti, a businessman from Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region. Farinetti opened his first Eataly in Turin in 2006. His New York partners, Lidia and Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali are no strangers to Italian cuisine and wine.
I attended the press tour before the official opening. After the tour, with tastings of small plates at each of the specialty food sections, Farinetti and I convened in the pizzeria, where he opened a few of his wines.
Quickly, our table was full, partly with other journalists and partly with people behind the Eataly project, including some of Farinetti’s team from Italy and his family.
Before we knew it, a plate of bistecca arrived, a cast-iron pot of beans and more wine. Presto! A family celebration, in this case, with Farinetti’s wife and sons, his extended family and a handful of others that had lingered.
The wines were tasty, too. We started with a fruity Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Sivian 2007 from Brandini, moving to the Barolo 2005, also from Brandini. The Brandini range is what Farinetti called “easy-drinking wines.”
The Fontanafredda Barolo La Rosa 2004, a single-vineyard Nebbiolo from the Serralunga commune offered a gorgeous nose of flowers, cherry and licorice. It was light and intense at once, with a glycerine texture, refined tannins and persistent finish.
For contrast, the Giacomo Borgogno Classico Riserva 2001 was a meaty, muscular red—full of plum, tar and licorice—very dense and complex with a long aftertaste.
Though they were delicious with the steak, itself perfectly grilled with a light crust offsetting the juicy, pink center, Farinetti opened the Fontanafredda Barbera d’Alba Briccotondo 2008, a wine with vibrant acidity and soft tannins that he likes with steak.
Joe Bastianich then opened a red from his Maremma estate, La Mozza Maremma Toscana Aragone 2006. A blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, Alicante and Carignano, it too was a nice pairing with the tender beef, with its deep plum fruit, spice notes and polished texture.
It was a lesson in the Italian culture of the table, with food and wine at the center of family and friends. It was a firsthand experience of the philosophy behind Eataly and what I admire so much about Italy.
Matthew — Sonoma, CA — January 10, 2011 1:05am ET
Tom Blair — Little Silver, NJ — January 29, 2011 1:51pm ET
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