It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.  Humid, soggy, grey.  Prior plans to sit around the pool, on it’s final day of summer operation were duly cancelled. So, what to do?  Surely Manhattan would be empty, so off we went to Eataly.  To my shock, the City was indeed empty as I parked on the street, directly in front of the market and at no charge. That has never happened in my life and I doubt it will again.
Eataly is the joint venture started two years ago by Mario Batali, Lidia, & Joe Bastianich. Over 50,000 square feet of floor space is home to thousands of authentic Italian products available for sale. No niche has been missed, no corner left unturned.  There are markets devoted to pasta, cheese, fish, meat, bread, wine, produce, salume, gelato, espresso and a host of grocery products and kitchen tools.  You can eat whatever you can buy and as such, there are ample tables where diners can sit or stand to enjoy.  The wine bar has reasonable pours at reasonable prices (Brunello for $8 per glass) Additionally, there are over 12 areas where shoppers can relax with a meal.  There’s a Neapolitan Pizzeria, a Grille called “Manzo”, a Panini bar, and a Vegetable Bar.   While the place was very busy, it was not overwhelmingly so, but I can easily imagine how it could rapidly become just that. It was a wonderful, fun and enjoyable experience.  However, that being said, the draw here is the sheer breadth of product under one roof which is unsurpassed by anything I have ever seen.  It would be easy to spend an entire day here, let alone a long afternoon.  Eataly is entertainment with a practical twist. I cannot imagine going there simply to “do shopping” – but I can easily imagine returning.  Bravo! 
We arrived around lunch time and immediately settled on the Neapolitan Pizzeria.  Wood burning ovens turn out excellent thin crust pizza. We opted for the specialty of the day; a buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato and prosciutto pizza that was simply perfect in every aspect. 

Buffalo Mozzarella, Cherry Tomato, & Prosciutto Pizza
With the pizza, we opted for a bottle of the 2009 San Romano Dolcetto di Dogliani Bricco delle Lepri.   Somehow, the picture of the wine I had taken mysteriously disappeared, but trust me when I tell you that it was an amazing foil to the pizza.  Blackish purple, with playful, concentrated aromas of plums, spice, grapes and smoke. In the mouth the fruit is vibrant, juicy and delicious with plenty of acidity to contrast with succulent prosciutto. At $20 per bottle, I bought a few to bring home, so there will be future pictures.  90 points, $20. 
After lunch, the shopping began in earnest..

A view of the “Piazza” – an area for cheese, salume, & wine tasting

A small glimpse of the cheese purveyor.  We brought home some Testun Barolo Fresca

We stopped in for a perfect espresso & macchiato doppio. This R2D2 looking monstrosity was among the largest I’ve seen. 

Ahhh, the perfect result of artistry……..

Macchiato Doppio….
Finally, we stopped by the pasta purveyor to get some fresh pasta for dinner.  We ended up choosing ricotta and spinach stuffed Pansotti, sort of a cross between traditional ravioli and agnolotti.  The filling was perfectly seasoned, light and airy.  The pasta absolutely delicious. The fresh pastas were not expensive and we bought some extra for the freezer.  Here’s a portion of the pasta case……

Pansotti con spinaci
For dinner that night, I made the Pansotti with a simple, fresh cherry tomato sauce.  Both at Eataly & in the Bronx, I’ve been buying canned Italian cherry tomatoes that make amazing fresh tomato sauce. My girlfriend loved this sauce so much that we’re planning to buy these tomatoes by the case. There are a few brands – so the next time I do this, I’ll grab a snap.  I incorporated some prosciutto and basil into the sauce and reserved some for garnish.  This dish, was stunning.

Pansotti with prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and basil
Finally, with the dish, and the Testun Barolo fresca, we opened the 1996 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato.  I decanted this about 60 minutes before dinner, but I’m certain it didn’t need it.  The wine is still a deep blackish red in the decanter, though it lightens up a little in the glass.  The aromas are effusive and classic. Dust, crushed red cherries, anise, licorice, and roasted nuts mingle in complexity.  The flavors follow the nose – the dried anise and nut components add wonderful complexity in the mouth and play well off the semi-sweet rind of the cheese. The wine paired very well with the Pansotti, the anise seemed to highlight the basil and the acid in the wine stood up well to the tomato and prosciutto.  Just the perfect end to the day. 95 points, about $60 upon release.

1996 Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato – Testun Barolo – Prosciutto


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