Eataly: Italian Megastore

Eataly has arrived in Roma, so of course, we had to go see what all the hype was about (along with the rest of the city).  Firstly, the place is enormous – it occupies an old railway station and has been restructured impeccably, turning what was once an eyesore into a glorious rebirth of the Ostiense neighborhood.

The idea is genius: bring together all the most prestigious local products from each region of Italy – which you normally would have to travel to find – and create one amazing Italian megastore.  That incredible dessert you had in Positano?  The homemade pasta in Puglia?  You’ll find it here.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to have access to some of the world’s most cherished alimentary items. 

Each (very long) level is divided by delicacy: there’s the gelato section, the piadina section, the olive oil section, the meat section, the fish section, and much more.  In each respective area, there’s a corresponding restaurant where you can have a bite to eat.  So, while shopping for the perfect fiorentina steak, you can also sit and enjoy one.

The only negative aspect was, as with any novelty in Rome, the place was absolutely packed.  So much so, it was hard to understand what to do and where to look, let alone attempt to actually eat something.  It was 10pm, and every single restaurant was still full, with groups of people hovering around waiting.  There were signs explaining how getting a table worked, and instruction number one – “Find an open table” – made me laugh out loud.  In Italy, no reservations/number system equals pure chaos, so needless to say, we didn’t stick around to find out what happened when someone finally did get up.  It’s quite frustrating being surrounded by all that wonderful food, and not being able to eat anything.  We’ll have to go back when things calm down in a few months.

It’s truly a fantastic initiative, and is slowly expanding around the world.  In the US, aside from the New York City location opened about a year ago, stores will soon be inaugurated in Chicago and Los Angeles as well.  

On the website, Eataly also outlines its lofty aspirations to use business as a catalyst for the rebirth of a struggling nation:

Sì, ci crediamo! Siamo convinti che la belleza salverà l’Italia. E’ per questo che Eataly Roma è dedicato alla bellezza. La bellezza dell’agroalimentare, la bellezza dell’arte, la bellezza della musica e la bellezza dell’ironia.  E poi ancora… la moda, il design, l’industria manifatturiera di precisione, il turismo. 

Yes, we believe it! We’re convinced that beauty will save Italy. It’s for this reason that Eataly Rome is dedicated to beauty.  The beauty of agriculture, the beauty of art, the beauty of music and irony.  And thensome… fashion, design, the manufacturing of precision, and tourism.