The grocery store element anchors this multi-level space but is not at all overshadowed by the wine department (not on our watch, anyway). Then there are restaurants, cafes, counters, a meat market, a bakery, a fishmonger and stacks upon stacks of bags of adorable Italian cookies. Put your arch supports in your best shoes because there's a lot of ground to cover here and no $31 per pound Parmigiano Reggiano is worth agitating your plantar fasciitis. Or maybe.
Obviously, the weekends are packed. Finding time to go early on a weekday, at least according to Reddit users in Boston who are totally over how busy it always is; a weekday around 2 p.m. is the best time to explore.
reserve a spot at one of their restaurants. You’re going to need a break and sustenance. Terra is the more formal restaurant on the third floor. The more casual Il Pastaio di Eataly has “counters” situated in the middle of the store. Another restaurant, La Pizza and La Pasta is tucked away on the first floor and it's highly recommended you make reservations through Open Table. All of these places allow you to get a taste of what is sold and made in the store. There are also several different walk-up counters for focaccia, pizza, desserts and a cafe.
Eataly gets a bit of criticism because of high prices. Feels like there's something for everyone though; sure you can pay $10 for 7 ounces of a meat sauce, or you can get a more affordable red sauce for just a few bucks. Pasta prices can be eye-popping, but they can also not be. Just have to dig a bit.
monthly wine club will get you three expertly selected Italian bottles for $75 a month, which can be picked up at the store or delivered for a fee.
A pro-tip, call it a mission or goal, whatever, but it’s best to assign some sort of focus to your trip. Think of this as bumper rails at the bowling alley. Things can quickly, easily, wonderfully and painfully (depending on when payday was) get out of hand. There’s just so much. Or maybe it’s perfect. So, say you make a reservation for lunch, then just grab the goods for Sunday dinner and Monday snacks and post-yoga and Zoom meetings.
For now, shoppers can't sample goods or drink wine when shopping. When we called Eataly and asked about this, their customer service member said the experience will be "totally different" when (if?) all the pandemic restrictions are lifted. For now, they require masks except for when seated. So, hang tight for an entirely new trip someday.
Finally, Eataly has a pretty good Instagram page with backstories on suppliers and products, helping to break down this carb and cheese mega buffet into bite-size pieces.
Eataly, 8687 N. Central Expressway, NorthPark Center, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Sunday