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Nov 20th 2010 11:03AM I am from NY and I've lived in Rome for eight years. I visited Eataly this fall, and like David, I left disappointed. Given how they market Eataly as artisan, I was surprised to see that the most visible imports consist of commercial, mass-produced Italian brands (see Eataly's website partner page): Moretti, Lavazza, and Barilla. That's like claiming that Budweiser, Maxwell House, and Wonder Bread are artisan. And anything sold at Eataly I would consider to be artisan was priced prohibitively.
I also thought the signage catering to Italian tourists was very silly, especially the offer of no ATM fees. Who cares? When I go to NY with my Italian friends, as I often do, the last thing we want to do is pay 400% more for Italian supermarket food. They want Corner Bistro, hot dogs, sushi, BBQ, Thai, Indian, and brunch. I think Eataly could have done without that.
In response to the first poster, Harrod's food area is completely separate from its main shopping area. Also, the concept of sit-down eating in a supermarket or in the vicinity of a food stall (aside from street food) is non-existent in Italy. There is small cafe' in my neighborhood market, but it completely cordoned off. In my travels to the various food markets of France and Spain, I have never seen a food market and cafe'/restaurant overlap so much. It's just not comfortable.
Upon returning to NYC after living in Italy for a few years, I found the most artisan, genuine Italian food experience to be the retail market on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, which reminds me of the peripheral "mercati rionali" (neighborhood markets) in Rome. I guess I am just biased because I live in the "real Eataly".
By the way, before Eataly, Mr Farinetti was much better known for ubiquitous electronic shop chain Unieuro, the "Best Buy" of Italy. I think after the smoke clears, Eataly will be snubbed by NYers and frequented by out of town folks seeking that "authentic Italian" food experience.