Mario Batali's Italian upscale grocery store is breaking into fast food with a new line of pre-packaged meals calls Eataly Pronto.
Walk into either Eataly location in New York City, and you’re likely to see mobs of tourists, and long lines to pick up either one of their handmade sandwiches or a slice of their fresh focaccia bread. Venture around the store, and you’ll find stalls set up selling gelato, fresh pasta, a glass case full of cheese, and what is probably some of the best salami you can find in New York City. The point is if you’re looking for a fast, but well-made, meal, until recently, this was not the place for you. Eataly wants to change all that though, with a new line of meals-to-go called Eataly Pronto.
“Around lunchtime, we saw the lines in front of the panini and rotisserie counters snaking through the store,” Jed Sullivan, Eataly’s director of QSR, told Eater, “and people at the end of the line started looking impatient.”
The line of “pre-packaged lunch items,” will hopefully make it easier for people to stop by the grocery store for a quick bite—perfect the lunch rush during work hours—without the hassle of waiting in line for something made by hand.
There’s a Panino Caprese for $9.80 on the menu, as well as a Panino Mortadella & Provolone for $8.80, among the list of sandwich offerings. There’s also a selection of seven salads, tiramisu, cheese platters, fruit salads—even calamari. You can check out the full menu here.
Right now, the Eataly Pronto menu is only available at the New York locations of the grocery store chain, but a spokesperson said that the line could be rolled out across the country if it’s successful in New York City.
Eataly chef Kristen Quito promises that Eataly Pronto won’t lose any of the freshness or quality that the grocery stores are known for, just because most of the menu items come pre-packaged.
“The salads and sandwiches, the way we pack them, are shelf-stable,” she told Eater. “At Eataly every customer has to have the best experience, and freshness is a big part of that."
The line marks an opportunity for the upscale supermarket to put their own twist on lunch time. And if people can get the quality—one might even venture to say the pure joy—that comes with eating an Eataly sandwich without having to carve out a half an hour just to wait in line, that seems like an opportunity worth pursuing.