More Thoughts on Eating at Eataly Chicago


[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

Think I got every single one of my thoughts out about Eataly yesterday? Of course not! Eataly is a big place, and there is so much more to say about it than could ever fit in one post. This post won't complete things, either, but hopefully it will answer a few of the lingering questions about the Italian food mecca.

Free Bread!


Somehow I managed to write about all the different restaurants in Eataly without once mentioning the bread, which is dished out for free at more than half of the spots. The bread is very crusty, and the olive oil served on the side for dipping is nice and fruity. How much I ate depended completely on the restaurant: I needed a second helping at Le Verdure and Il Pesce, while I barely touched it before the carb-heavy La Pasta and La Pizza.

Best ____ in River North


It's kind of astonishing how many things Eataly does well. Even if every dish doesn't completely work, you can tell that genuine thought went into each one. Plus, occasionally this care produces something truly memorable.

Margherita Pizza: While there are some very good pizza options nearby, none has Neapolitan pizza down like Eataly. The crust is crisp and light, making for a fantastic base.


Pasta: Whether you want to get your fix at La Pasta or Baffo, Eataly is serving up some serious pasta dishes. Each offering I tried had serious al dente bite, and was tossed with a bare minimum of toppings.


Gelato: I'm not sure if the gelato is quite the best in the city (I'm going to wait until summer to find out for sure), but it is excellent stuff.

Cooking at Home


The restaurants got all the attention yesterday, but don't forget that Eataly is also a grocery store. Obviously, there is no reasonable way for me to try all of the options—there are around 100 different olive oils—so I didn't really try. But I did pick up a few things along the way, some of which I really loved. It's hard to go wrong with any of the fresh pastas, particularly the ravioli. Twice I picked up some fresh ravioli, a few cans of tomatoes, and was able to put together a quick dinner at home.


La Mozzarella's offering are available at La Piazza, including the very good bocconcini with pumpkin caponata. But don't forget that you can get the freshly made mozzarella to go. I'd like to say that I used it for some wonderful home cooked dinner, but the truth is that my wife and I ate the whole thing straight from the container. The same can be said about the prosciutto and speck I picked up at the Salumi counter.