Eataly Rome, revisited
Thought this was an interesting review from the internet, "Reality Check – Eataly Roma on a Sunday Evening: Far From a Dream"
It is pretty much the exact same experience I had in the orignal Torino flagship of EATAY. I had been thinking I shouldn't have an opinion about EATALY in Rome since I'd only eaten in the one in Torino, and have only walked in (and out) of the branches in NYC and Bologna. But now I realize it is like going to MacDonald's in Omaha and expecting the one in Tulsa to be different. What is being sold is precisely conformity (and beer). I think the place is poison.
Well, I guess you are entitled to your opinion. Especially if you've decided you are going to have one concerning a place you've never been to.
I, on the other hand, have been to the Eatalys in Bologna, Torino, New York and Rome. I've actually spent time in them all, at different times of day, at different days of the week and different weeks of the year. So I think that I can say with conviction that they are all quite different, and I have different opinions (not all positive) about each of them.
I'm sorry that Buzz in Rome had a bad experience. But if you go to any place like this on a Sunday in Rome, (where almost everything else is closed) of course it is going to be over crowded. I've been half a dozen times, for lunch and for dinner, (during the week mostly) and have had wonderful experiences. And it was never crowded.
Saying that it is selling 'conformity and beer' is just misinformed. You can criticize it on many levels if you'd like, but as someone who knows what is on offer all over Rome, I was glad to find many things I couldn't find anywhere else. At good prices. And many of the items for sale in both the restaurants and shopping areas were completely different from what is on offer in the other Eatalys.
To call a place 'poison' without even having visited it, seems a bit unfair. Kind of like forming an opinion about a film or a book, based on someone else's review, no?
If you look at the pictures of the various branches of EATALY, every single one of the places is EXACTLY the same. I have a completely clear conscience about dissing it in TOTO.
I just caught up with Katie Parla's wonderfully plain vanilla NYT article, apparently published 2 days after I put up my post -- where she too feels compelled to mention the beer. And thanks to vinoroma for alerting me to her Katie's blog entry. I especially enjoyed this observation: "Eataly has indoctrinated a gullible public with their own brand of slick, repetitive marketing. In spite of below average produce, terrible food, woefully uninformed staff, and all the charm of a badly run American food court, Eataly is packed day and night." Sorry that didn't make its way into the Times!
People might be interested in this wide-eyed report from the website "Find Dining Lovers", which I found hilarious.
My favorite quote from there:
"There are plans in the works for five other Eataly locations in Italy, four in the U.S., one in London and another three in Japan. The next opening is set for April 2013, when a special Eataly will open in the theater space of the legendary Teatro Smeraldo, and will be dedicated to music. “The project foresees a huge, emerald green stage suspended in mid-air where musicians will perform every night,” Farinetti explains. “Visitors can listen to music while eating the best pizza in the world.”
Uh -- would that be the same crap Rossopomodoro chain pizza they serve In EATALY's elsewhere?
Talk about bread and circuses.
Parla concludes: "Does Rome need an Eataly? Perhaps not, but judging by the crowds I saw, it sure does want one." Alas, the rub, it seems: much of the Eataly discussions seem to revolve around whether there should (or should not ) be one in Rome, and what its existence says about, well, everything, and what difference it will make to traditional commerce. All of which are fair and important questions, but what happens in the market answers them. The NYC Eataly, for instance, may well become even more of an eat and drink place, with just enough grocery and materia prima around for color and identity--that seems to be where people are spending money. Rome may evolve in its own way.
If you check out Katie Parla's food blog, you will see an analysis of EATALY in Rome that isn't about Rome. It's about the poor quality of the merchandise and the lousy eating experience in EATALY in Rome -- and she not only went there once, she went there several times.
I hope you will agree with me that where people spend money has more to do with advertising hype creating curiosity and desire in this world than anything satisfying or of quality.
I honestly don't understand how anybody can stand eating anything around those ugly corny photos and signs hanging everywhere. But then again, I never brought anything from Pottery Barn into my house either.
I meant "Eataly Rome" will evolve. Or die, if the market changes and they don't adapt. They very will may have their 15 minutes until something else comes along. And who's to say the NYC Eatlay, for instance, might end up one of those white elephant places like the old Macy's Kitchen (a mega food-kitchen-dining space in the basement) that held ground for years in the 1980s as a must-go proto-foodie destination. Until it wasn't, until things like the economy, other choices, ownership, and margin changes, etc etc, did it in. Which is a way of saying that there are logics to why things succeed or fail that may not alway be on the surface. I, too, can't abide the NY Eataly smarmy signage and self-regarding style, never eat or drink there, and only buy foccaccia and a Calabrian oil no one else has. But for now, at least, they don't need me. As for Rome, the city, chissa?
Eataly has landed in Rome and that's a simple fact. The concept is Italian, well funded and will not go away. My take is that this sort of destination was inevitable.
Two/three years ago I took my wife to the giant McDonalds near the Spanish Steps. I walked her through every nook and cranny. The place was packed to the gills with...locals. I had no intention of eating there, I simply wanted to point out a destination.
Eataly is upscale. I know the Manhattan outpost very well now and have developed a grudging respect for it. The place fills the shopping/dining needs of some locals, serves as a beacon to tourists, employs a lot of people, pays a lot of rent (and taxes) and makes money for investors.
At the end of the day, patrons will decide the success or failure of any given enterprise. I'm not a fan of McDonalds (despite its success) but I have learned to enjoy certain aspects of the Eataly formula.
Romans don't need my $0.02 on what's right and proper. They'll decide, as they have over the past 2,000-plus years, what works for them.
I live in Bologna. I have been just once to the very first Eataly in Torino. I was unimpressed.
I love Eataly in Bologna. *Not* for buying food there but for two things: it's exciting interior decor, and the fact that it is 85% book store making it a great place to arrange to meet friends. You browse and shop for books (and why not also cast an eye on the food for sale - there are a very few items I do get occasionally there. I just don't buy any of the over priced imported or Italian foods in award winning packaging design, nor any of the cured salumi or cheeses) and then when your friend/s show up, you all go and have a coffee or a light meal / drink at one of the three eateries, one on each floor. Perfect!