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Jessica Radloff | Photo: Cass Bird | July 1, 2013
Joe Bastianich and Co., the crew behind the much-buzzed-about Eataly, take over Chicago—Italian-style.
When jet-setting to Naples for authentic pasta and Neapolitan pizza isn’t in the cards, a visit to New York’s Eataly is the next best thing. But even that trek is about to get a whole lot shorter as Eataly—an artisanal food and wine emporium that covers just about every region of Italy—settles into 63,000 square feet of River North real estate later this year. The food and retail marketplace’s second U.S. location joins nearly a dozen in Italy and four in Japan.
For restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who helped bring the concept stateside with partners Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, and brothers Adam and Alex Saper, Chicago was a clear choice when expanding due to its “tourism and heritage, traffic and savvy food culture,” he says. “Eataly is where restaurants meet shopping and where shopping meets restaurants. It’s the best of Italy.”
So what can we expect that’s unique to Chicago? Bastianich and his team plan to incorporate some local cuisine and maybe even local chefs. In other words, expect Eataly to be a little more beer-focused and feature regional favorites like sausages. “We want to integrate it as much as we can into the local fabric of the food world,” he says. “It will be the kinds of things we feel are very Chicago.”
That attention to detail has served Bastianich well. Also a winemaker, author, TV personality, husband and father (to name a few of his credentials), Bastianich doesn’t cut corners. “You can’t worry about the goals regarding money in the beginning,” he says. “Surround yourself with the best people you can learn from—find mentors.”
And surround yourself with the best food and wine. His perfect meal involves mozzarella di bufala with prosciutto di San Daniele and a white Italian wine. As he so perfectly states, “Wine makes you smart, sexy and strong!” Kind of like a certain city we’re so crazy about.
“I love Paul Kahan’s stuff, Girl & the Goat, GT Fish & Oyster and The Purple Pig.”
Chicago weather. “It’s too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer! It’s worse than New York.”