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Jun 21, 2012 09:25 AM

Eataly Roma

Hi Everyone,

Has anyone been? I understand it just opened, and I think I'll have to set aside an entire day to just browse and graze while I'm there. Apparently it's located in an old train station and is absolutely huge - 160,000 sf. There are something like 20 restaurants inside. Would love to hear from anyone who's been there.

Sounds like foodie heaven to me.

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  1. a lot of the roman contributors here have been (pre-opening blogger & press tours) and I am sure you will start reading a lot about it. Hint: not everyone is happy about it / thinks it is a good idea.

    1 Reply
    1. re: vinoroma

      I can certainly understand the opposition, preferring the small, local businesses myself--but I must admit that I shopped frequently @ Eataly in New York City while visiting with my son a few months ago. Of course, in NYC, Little Italy is almost entirely subsumed by Chinatown. I can't imagine shopping at Eataly in Rome.

      P.S. Thanks again for the wine tasting class; we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Can't wait until our next trip.

    2. Should be interesting in both a good/bad sort of way. I'm a semi-fan of Eataly in Manhattan. It's taken some time to sort things out there.
      We'll see.

      1. I hated EATALY's flagship store in Torino. The concept is to give Italians the joys of a American-style big box outlet shopping -- and they fall for it, because many American-type things are popular in Italy as symbols of hipness and being 21st century. I have never seen employees in Italy who looked more downright miserable than the employees I saw in EATALY, especially inside the restaurants, which operate on the principal of fast-food, take a number service, get-em-in-get-em-out. I literally had food and plastic utensils thrown at me by employees in the assembly line setup.

        I suggest if you are going to Rome to set aside an entire day to visit several of its historic markets and cheese shops. They are colorful, aromatic and humane -- and just as big as EATALY. No restaurants, but you can buy fresh food and baked foods, and nibble as you stroll.

        6 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          "because many American-type things are popular in Italy as symbols of hipness and being 21st century"

          I just want to stick up for the good ol' USA. I absolutely LOVE Italy and plan on visiting many more times in the years ahead, but I always enjoy coming back to the US. Yes, we tend to do things to excess at times but the freedoms and choices we enjoy here are not found in any other place I've ever traveled to. Let's try not to bash the US on these international boards. Thanks.

          1. re: mangiare24

            Who was bashing the USA? Not me in my post. I was bashing EATALY, which in Italy is run by Italians.

            But even if I was bashing American food in comparison to Italian food, I wouldn't feel terribly obliged to stop. I don't like German food in comparison to Italian food. I don't like Thai food in comparison to Mexican food. That's my opinion. I think we should leave protecting national sentiments out of the discussion. No one is obliged to be patriotic.

            By the way, I'm an American living in Italy, so I made my choice when it comes to food, valuing freshness and flavor over variety. Daily choice in food means less to me than it does you.

            Back to EATALY, which is the point of this thread, I think the American-wannabe one in Torino has less choice, despite its size, than the best of Italy's classic urban food-market neighborhoods that I've visited.

            1. re: barberinibee

              Sorry for the use of the word "bash." That was a bad choice. It's a gut reaction I admit that. So many ex-pats and others on the international boards take any US influence on their European country of choice to be a toxic thing and I just get tired of hearing that. Yes, I may be reading too much into it, but when you stated, "because many American-type things are popular in Italy as symbols of hipness and being 21st century" I took this to be a negative. Not all "American-type" influences on European countries are a bad thing. That's all I am trying to say. I apologize if I came across as being rude; that was not my intention at all.

              1. re: mangiare24

                No real offense taken. I just don't like big box mega stores. I think Italians have done an incredible job of incorporating foods from America into their cuisine (I'm talking pumpkin, not Coke).

                1. re: barberinibee

                  I think I get what everyone's trying to say - it's like when Walmart opens up a store in a neighbourhood...all the little guys justifiably start to panic, knowing they can't compete with a mega-corporation. Not having ever visited Eataly, I will still go, just like I would if I were in New York or Torino, but I know it will never replace the smaller family-run stores..... at least I would hope not.

                  1. re: Quattrociocchi

                    I'm also saying it is lesser quality eating, not just a threat to small business.

        2. It's huge! I have been there for a pre-opening press tour and I blogged about it.
          As frequent board readers know I'm a Roman and I love local food markets and little shops, but I'm more than happy about Eataly opening here. Rome is not a small city and I believe that a giant as Eataly can live together with artisanal high quality venues (not so many in that area actually). Something similar happens in Torino, isn't it?

          I've been impressed by the beauty of the internal spaces and by the quantity of options you can find in a single place. There are also few live artisanal productions (mozzarella, pasta, ...) and a birrificio (craft beer production).
          The "Italia" restaurant located at the top floor looks as a good candidate for future michelin-star. Hope to try it soon.
          One more thing influencing my positive reaction: they have already planned many special events and interesting classes. If well managed it could become also a "food culture center" attracting people not only from Rome.

          I strongly recommend to go there, but in my opinion few hours or half a day maybe are enough if you are not staying much time in Rome.

          BTW the train station is not old, it was built for the 1990 soccer world championships and practically abandoned after it. I'm happy to see the whole building sparkling again thanks to Eataly and the new Italo trains.


          9 Replies
          1. re: tavoleromane

            Thanks for the report. I'll give it a shot when things get sorted.

            1. re: tavoleromane

              T.R. I so much agree with you. Again, it seems to me that lots of peeps have a very romantic idea of Rome, Italian food. Whoever is threatened by Eataly, businesswise, has not been keeping up with consumer needs. I am personally tired of small shops which monopolize the area and raise their prices without any regards to tourists or romans, giving little or no choice. Eataly not only has human prices but sells ALL Italian food and 30% from Lazio. I really see very little downside to all of this.
              "The concept is to give Italians the joys of a American-style big box outlet shopping -- and they fall for it, because many American-type things are popular in Italy as symbols of hipness and being 21st century. I have never seen employees in Italy who looked more downright miserable than the employees I saw in EATALY" This statement leaves me wondering if this is what a major biz concept is reduced to. The joys of American-style box outlet? And if Eataly is that, with a major goal of promoting ITALIAN food and culture, what are all the terrible malls in and around Rome? And to see "miserable" employees, you just need to walk in almost any store...As a matter of fact, one of the observations I made the other day when I went to Eataly for the second time (and it was not the first Eataly I visited since I had already visited the one in Turin) was that Eataly made employees feel cool about being part of a "philosophy" and not just work as waiters or shop assistants. Last but not least, Eataly promotes meritocracy. There are very, very young gals and boys who have major positions within the company and they are not even 30! Something basically unheard of in a country where the old goes away only with death.

              1. re: cristinab


                Just curious. You said "The "Italia" restaurant located at the top floor looks as a good candidate for future michelin-star. "

                What makes you say that?

                1. re: allende

                  The experience! ;-)
                  Seriously, chef Gianluca Esposito is young (29 years old) but already had very positive reviews by experts when he was at Eataly Bologna. The menu will include seasonal dishes representing Italian Regions diversity. 20 dishes (5 antipasto, 5 primi, 5 secondi, 5 desserts) from 20 different areas of Italy with frequent changes.
                  Wine selection looks great too.
                  Of course a tasting is needed to confirm this nice feeling.

                2. re: cristinab


                  As I made quite clear in my post, the EATALY I visited (and ate at) was in Torino, not Rome. I have noticed miserable employees in many an Italian supermarkets. I have never seen ones as miserable as the ones I saw in EATALY in Torino -- and with good reason. I watched the youngest employees being driven like slaves by their not-too-much older supervisors to work faster and faster , tossing out pre-packeaged food and clearing tables, assembly line style. It is very much an American concept to exploit youth labor on the cheap by selling them on the idea the corporation is a "cool" concept. I think Article 18 has to go, but I am sorry some young Italians are dazzled by a workplace where there are simply giant signs on the wall everywhere you look filled with big buzzwords (mostly in English) when the operative reality is fewer workplace rights, less human service, just more corporate "branding" and the diminishment of individuality.

                  It's a straw man argument to try to label people who correctly observe the American-style coporate priorities of EATALY as people having a "very romantic idea of Rome, Italian food." The fact that you can't a see a downside to EATALY doesn't mean there isn't one. You say you are personally tired of small shops and lack of product "choice." What you don't say --- but which is the case -- is that you not only don't care if the rest of us end up deprived of the choices we prefer, you will actually be glad when they are gone, you wish to see them eliminated.

                  We'll see who wins. The future of food and food culture in Europe is right now totally up for grabs. Personally, I hope the corporate interests lose, but I'm braced for defeat. I'd rather starve than walk into another EATALY again.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    My review of my visit to EATALY in Torino last year:

                    EATALY (Lingotto, Torino)

                    Even though I will frankly admit I start out being suspicious of things such as "EATALY" or "SLOW FOOD" -- or anything purporting to be purely Italian that markets itself solely in English -- even I was surprised by how much I hated everything about EATALY. I never imagined I could find a place that I disliked being inside more than a Home Depot or IKEA, but I actually disliked EATALY quite a bit more.

                    I have no idea how anyone could walk through the doors of EATALY and continue believing that this was a temple to "local" eating or "slow" food. The place is a riot of frantic consumerism, a staff that looks absolutely miserable from overwork at low wages, and there is not an ounce of pleasure to be witnessed in any of the ugly, noisy food courts. What EATALY does have going for it is its ability to purchase and use high quality ingredients in bulk -- and, to be fair, the preparation of individual dishes is not stupid. In the self-serve fish bistro, we ate an insalata of squid where the squid very well cooked and extremely tasty, but the calamari had not been sufficiently cleaned of cartilege. Likewise our simply baked orata was fresh and only barely overcooked, but it was scaly and of course not boned. When we asked for bread (which we had paid for), we were told by a copiously sweating server that they had "run out." Really? In a supermarket? Later, when we saw break heading to other tables, we were finally able to flag down another exhausted table-cleaner and get some bread. . The wines available were very good and the food is remarkably cheap given the quality -- largely because there is no service. They hire teens and immigrants and pay them nothing.

                    I could not wait to get out of there. We felt blessed to escape, and doubly so when we emerged back into the fume-choked air of summer Lingotto to discover that there was a live concert in the piazzetta outside EATALY, the popular Piemontese cabernet group I TreLilu, which performs comic songs in a dialect of Piemonte, and which seemed to take particular relish that evening in making vaguely obscene jokes about the meaning of EATALY.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      I haven't been to Eataly anywhere but New York, so I won't pronounce on the ones in Rome and Turin. But Cristina definitely has a point about the small shops in Rome. This category does not include Volpetti, La Tradizione, and any number of well-stocked lively emporia around town. It does include many small family-run corner stores where the stock and the prices and the hours ill-serve the neighbors who keep them in business. In fact they are being pushed out by small supermarkets, which are proliferating in the center of Rome, some better than others. They relied on protectionist laws (I'm not sure that's the right word) to keep them closed on Sundays, for example, and keep competition to a minimum. I don't want to speak for Cristina, but I can certainly relate to the notion that small shops that have not always provided good service deserve what they get. Long life to those that do, but if the others are pushed out of the market, no tears. There will still be plenty of local color and choice from those that do a good job.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Wow. You seem to know a lot about what I think. I think my post was about Eataly and pointing out what I see as positive and did not think that I had to hear what I think from somebody else!

                        By the way, I have never said and will never say that " not only don't care if the rest of us end up deprived of the choices we prefer, you will actually be glad when they are gone, you wish to see them eliminated.".
                        Business like Roscioli, Franchi, Volpetti will survive and will do just fine, I think and hope. Let's not mix two different concepts and that is the "wallmart" marketing philosophy with Eataly's. Eataly is one thing and tries to promote something different than "you can have anything at a lower price" (wallmart) and eats up all small businesses until the point of cannibalism (that's when they stop).

                        "I watched the youngest employees being driven like slaves by their not-too-much older supervisors to work faster and faster , tossing out pre-packeaged food and clearing tables, assembly line style".

                        As far as your experience in Turin, sorry to say that mine was totally different. Also had a chance to speak with several of those employees (I was toured all around Eataly by one of their vendors) and my memory does not recall any impression similar to yours. On the other hand, I invite you to reflect that who works for Eataly (and yes, physical labor is involved and I saw with my own eyes one of the owner's sons unloading boxes of stuff late at night in one Eataly), is legally hired, gets paid and is treated as an employee protected by the Unions. On the other hand, many of the mom and pop shops don't (highest rate of workers "a nero" are in the restaurant business.)

                        What you describe, in my language, means teaching on how to be efficient but this might be just a different point of view. Maybe I see too many young Italian kids with too many iphones on the beach doing nothing while they complain that there's no work:-)

                        1. re: cristinab

                          @mbfant & cristinab,

                          I'll try not to raise the heat on this exchange, but I really weary of seeing my words and other people's words on Chowhound turned into a caricature and straw-man version of what was said -- although I appreciate that Cristina thinks I have done the same to her. I apologize for not spelling out my thoughts more clearly and with less irritation, but I am sick to death of seeing clear observation derided as "romantic". Skip the insults please.

                          Of course there are small food stores that aren't any good in Rome and elsewhere. If you read my advice to the OP, it was to set aside equal time for the classic urban food markets and cheese shops of Rome. If it wasn't clear, my suggestion was to make quality choices.

                          As for whether EATALY and other chain supermarkets are a good force that help get rid of useless food stores while useful stores remain, I think you are both wrong. I don't think today's dominant capitalism (or cannabalism) works that way. I know that the people who run EATALY are aiming for a different result and sloganeering like mad to communicate that. They will end up wondering why things didn't turn out as they planned, and we all ended up with less choice and more lousy, imported food when they had nothing but the very best intentions.....

                          In a different thread, about Francis Ford Coppola's Palazzo Margherita, I tried to express some sympathy for people who work hard to preserve and promote some things of lasting value, plus create employment in a depressed area, in an era where cannabalistic capitalism doesn't give anybody a plausible alternative and very little room to maneuver. Like steve h. says, EATALY is "inevitable."

                          EATALY disgusts me in a way that Palazzo Margherita doesn't just because I think it is less transparent and has gone too far in stealing the language of real reform and real hope (and because Palazzo Margherita stays closer to being just one man's risky, crazy dream). But I do suspect that the people at EATALY really are sincere in believing they are for all the right things, and they can cleverly bend today's globalized capitalist structures and coo advertising propaganda to create better, humane outcomes.

                          Please don't accuse of me being indifferent to youth employment in Italy and a better future for small food producers because I want to shout at everybody: "This isn't going to work!" I (kinda) wish I could join you in believing, but I cannot. Nobody can make this train turn left. It's on a fixed track that goes to but one destination, It is ultimately headed to pitch over a cliff, actually, and perhaps after the wreck, we can pick up the pieces and do something completely different that actually does accomplish the things we and the young idealists of EATALY apparently all want (if any of us survive the wreck).

                          In the meantime, glad to hear that EATALY in Rome provides some people with a temporary job and a pleasant food experience inside its walls. I'll take your word for it. But I really do stick by my advice to the OP not to spend a day at the pre-packaged experience of EATALY without spending equal time sampling what lies beyond its chain-store walls, food-wise, in Rome.

                  2. Eataly is, well, inevitable. I'll give the Rome shop a chance just like I gave the Manhattan shop.
                    My guess, based on my Manhattan experience, is that it will take a minimum of 12-24 months to sort things out. Are the backers of Eataly braced to ride out the storm? They would be crazy not to but it's not my money. Times are changing. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Passions will run hot but that's the price one pays.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: steve h.

                      Eataly in NY is obviously extremely successful but I find it intolerable, the rush and crowds and exclusive "branded" merchandise. I would never choose to eat there in the crush of humanity. I cant judge how this will play in Rome, perhaps it will fill a niche for Romans as stated here - and maybe for some of the same audiences that find the NY unit attractive .

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Hi jen,
                        To me it's interesting. Crowds and chaos were the order of the day when it opened. Over time I figured out the tide-like flow of shoppers vs. touristas.
                        At the end of the day, I'm ok with the place. Quality of food is reasonably high, diversity is quite broad. It didn't start that way, not by a long shot, but they have evolved. Prices aren't cheap and will never be. Still, if you can work out the time of day that suits you, the place will reward you. Will that be the case in Rome? We'll see.
                        Let the record show that Deb and I occasionally pop into Tarry Lodge/Tarry Market on weekends (a Batali/Bastianich place in Port Chester, New York for folk not familiar). We cherry-pick the good stuff and retreat back to the calm environs of Fairfield County when finished :-).

                        1. re: steve h.

                          maybe if I worked across the street from that address - as I did for a number of years -I would find a way for it to work for me. but I have dropped in on a couple of weekday afternoons when it was jammed, on a weekday evening ditto (we considered eating there but not after seeing the scene - and even through the dining area on that occasion was not crowded, the close quarters and format were unappealing - and on a weekend , mob scene. There bread is good (especially if you can grab the day-old a bargain) but I havent seen anything else that exceeds in quality the other local sources. Sorry, I think we need to let this get back to rome. It will be interesting to see how that one evolves Maybe there will be attention toquality regional products, which would be interesting. all in one place.

                        2. re: jen kalb

                          You're missing out on some truly wonderful food jen. Yes, the place is crowded, but it's something I've had to get past to enjoy the restaurants. Manzo is somewhat separate, so it is a good place to start ffor someone turned off by the crowds (me included). Birreria on the rooftop is completely isolated from the crush of the marketplace.

                        3. re: steve h.


                          Of all the passionate food fights on Chowhound's Italy board, this is the only one of any serious consequence.