Last week, the 63,000-square-foot Eataly Chicago opened after a solid year of hype--and the scene there will make your head spin.
Croc-wearing, Gwynie-bestie chef Mario Batali is the marquee name behind the place, which is a Disneyland for foodies with seven restaurants (one for pizza, one for fish and so on), departments for everything from pasta to cured meats, 100 olive oils for sale, a beauty section and--it?s true!--a Nutella bar.
Here are a few tricks we picked up on our maiden voyage to Eataly.
Drink While You Shop Proceed to the Vino Libero wine bar, order a glass and sip while you debate between citrus squeezers and rolling pins downstairs in Housewares.
Try This Cheese First There are literally 150 cheeses to choose from, and we panicked until the cheesemonger pointed us toward a sheep?s milk Paglierino ($21 a pound) that we loved--it?s sweet, dense and a total crowd-pleaser. ??
Eat at Le Verdure Go figure, Eataly?s vegetarian restaurant was the only one without a line at 6 p.m. on a weeknight. We ordered the creamy mushroom gnocchi ($19) and a glass of rosé and finished up in time to make a 7:30 show.
Or Wait ?Til January The holiday crowds will be gone, but the gelato and panini stations will still be there for you.
Eataly Chicago, 43 E. Ohio St.; 312-521-8700 or eataly.com