Any time Mario Batali comes up with a new slogan, I get inspired. When the chef says, "Spaghetti is love," I put on a pot of water to boil. His most recent motto, "Shop hard, shop often," will surely be my most motivational one yet.
That's because Batali's newest project, Eataly, an artisanal-food-and-wine market and restaurant complex, promises to change the way New Yorkers shop. All of Eataly's details are impressively big and coolthe $18 million project occupies some 50,000 square feet in Manhattan's newly hip Madison Square Park neighborhood; it's based on a store of the same name in Turin, Italy, that has food lovers going crazy for things like raw milk on tap. But those aren't the main reasons I'm excited about Eataly. The city's green-markets notwithstanding, it's been a whilesince the early days of Dean & DeLuca in the 1980sthat a food market has given New Yorkers something to obsess about. And then there's Batali's ability to create dishes that are so good they become buzzwords: I'm thinking specifically of the beef-cheek ravioli at his 12-year-old Manhattan flagship, Babbo.
I'm not sure what my favorite thing will be at Eataly, but I know I'll have a lot of choices. Batalialong with longtime business partner Joe Bastianich, chef Lidia Bastianich (Joe's mother) and Eataly's Italy-based founder, Oscar Farinettioffers a zillion options for eating and drinking. Everything reflects the philosophy that food should be artisanal and sustainable, a combination of Dean & DeLuca and the green-markets: "You'll always know what season you're in," says Batali.