Midwesterners familiar with Eataly — the massive Italian-themed provisions-restaurant-superstore run by Oscar Farinetti, B&B Hospitality Group (Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich) and Adam and Alex Saper — for months have been counting down to the opening of the latest location, in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. There are nine Eatalys in Italy and a handful in Japan, but there’s just one in the U.S. (in New York City’s Union Square), which makes Eataly Chicago’s impending opening (Batali recently announced either a November 22 or 29 reveal) all the more exciting. Among the highlights:
It will be the biggest Eataly in the country. Eataly’s River North mecca will be bigger than New York’s, and by quite a bit. With 63,000 square feet spread over two floors, it will feature eight restaurants (New York has just five), as well as specialized retailers peddling everything from pasta (more than 200 shapes will be sold) to olive oils (nearly 100 on offer) to gelato (available at a dedicated gelateria).
Two words: Nutella bar. Among Eataly Chicago’s planned specialty retailers and vendors is a Nutella bar, the star of which, of course, is the popular European hazelnut spread. It’s most commonly used in crêpes, but we’re guessing with all of the fresh bread in the building, the possibilities will extend beyond the norm.
Sit down to a nice meal at Baffo. In addition to a handful of casual enotecas, beer bars and cafés (including a grand Lavazza coffee bar), Eataly Chicago will host a separate fine-dining osteria-style restaurant called Baffo, which will accept reservations for formal, sit-down dinners. While no official menu has been realized, expect to find options such as fresh pastas, salumi and even heritage pork and lamb. Baffo will have its own street entrance and will share parking with Eataly’s 1,000-space lot.
You can shop local. Eataly proudly boasts its “local-ness,” which is why all of its New York outlet’s dairy comes from the Hudson Valley. Similarly, Eataly Chicago will feature collaborations with local farmers and suppliers. Among its confirmed vendors are West Loop Salumi, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, and Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, with more to be announced.
Photos Courtesy of Eataly and Virginia Rollison