Fun (and probably little known) fact: the Eataly in New York is owned by Masterchef U.S judge Joe Bastianich, his momma Lidia Bastianich, and Iron Chef Mario Batali. In fact, that’s what drew me to it in the first place. Mario Batali is a friend of Anthony Bourdain’s and any friend of Anthony Bourdain is automatically worthy of fangirl attention – iron chef or no iron chef. Also, uh- who doesn’t crush on Joe?
While most people go gaga-eyed over Eataly for it’s Nutella haven status, I’ve always been more interested in the pizzas, pastas, cheeses, breads, salamis and what M likes to refer to as “the grocery section”, haha.
The other night M and I decided to make the hike to the newly opened branch in Festival city, as we were invited to try it out. The Eataly in Dubai Mall isn’t new to us, but this one was. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the mall appeared to have expanded, and is now home to SO many new stores and restaurants! M will be less miserable taking me to Ikea now.
So Eataly has got a monthly seasonal menu in which they promote the produce and flavors of a different Italian region. This month it’s Campania & Sicilia. In case you haven’t already guessed, all the ingredients used in Eataly are from- wait for it- Italy.
Here’s how it went down:
Melanzane Alla Siciliana (deep fried breaded eggplant, mozzarella fior di latte and basil, served with “spicy” Anontella tomato sauce). This was a miss. It could really have used some seasoning, was very bland, and the eggplant didn’t stand out either.
Mozzarella In Carrozza (Deep fried breaded mozzarella balls, basically). These were great, but then again when is deep fried breaded mozzarella ever bad, really?
Fritto Di Calamari (Deep fried calamari) This was so, SO good. This was perhaps the first time I’ve had calamari this crispy. Whenever I think of calamari, I imagine myself biting into a ring of cold oil before reaching the rubbery center. I was caught by pleasant surprise when I popped these little babies into my mouth, because they were not oily, not rubbery and were so good I could have a bucket of these like popcorn with my next movie.
Truffle Pizza: I made a booboo. I forgot to note down the Italian name of this Pizza and couldn’t find it on their online menu either. So anyone who’s been following my blog would know by now that M and I are kind of cray about truffles and all things truffle. This pizza was no exception, and in addition to meeting my 3 requirements for a good pizza (good crust, good cheese, good sauce), the toppings could not have been better even if we dreamed them up. The Italian sausage was phenomenal and the combination of truffle oil and freshly grated slivered on top made this our most favorite pizza EVER. It was the best thing we ate all night.
Spaghetti Carbonara: One of the first things I got to know about M (years ago), was that he loved a good Carbonara, and the version at Eataly is certainly a darn good one. The presence of truffle obviously earned it some extra brownie points.
Tortelli Al Pesto Liqduido: Pesto is to me what truffle is to M. I love, love, LOVE basil. I start hyperventilating if my basil plant at home starts showing signs of deterioration, and have to have a kilo on hand at all times. So when I read the words “tortelli” and “pesto” together, I naturally got very excited. What ensued was utter disappointment. I was aware that the tortelli would be al dante, but I was not aware that the ratio of pasta dough to filling would be 20:1 . I loved the bed of mashed potatoes that the tortelli rested upon, I loved the parmesan shards on top, but the tortelli itself was a major fail. I couldn’t taste or feel the Marscapone filling that was promised in the description, nor could I pick up on the flavor any sage (which is usually very powerful), and the pesto came across only subtly and vaguely. I cannot stress enough on how sparsely this tortelli was filled. It was like eating shamefully under-seasoned, undercooked, plain pasta. Joe would have shaken his head in disappointment, if not thrown the plate in the bin.
For dessert we had a chocolate chip cookie, which was not fresh, dry and as disappointing as the last time I had a chocolate chip cookie at Eataly. We also had an indulgent chocolate mousse pastry and then bought a nice loaf of bread on our way out.
While Eataly offers a decent sized menu, it’s still not my first choice when selecting a authentic Italian mall restaurant on a mid-range budget. For me, Carluccio’s still reigns at the top. I will however be going back for that truffle pizza, continue buying great Italian ingredients from there- because everyone should know that balsamic vinegar from Modena is like no other- and Eataly is still the best place to get your Nutella fix.