Imagine having the luxuries of an Italian market, dining venues, and cooking school all under one single roof. A place where patrons can enjoy Roman pizza, sip a glass of wine as they grocery shop and learn how to make homemade gelato. When I heard that Eataly opened a Los Angeles location, I knew my son, and I would have fun exploring it.
Initially started back in 2007, in Turin Italy Eataly was launched out of a closed down liquor factory. In the last decade, the company expanded to include over thirty marketplaces, cruise ship restaurants, and even a mini theme park. Currently, Eataly has branches in NYC, Chicago, Boston, and a brand new one in L.A.
Eataly Los Angeles
Eataly officially opened its doors in Century City’s posh Westfield Mall last November. The brainchild of Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti, and chef Mario Batali the mega 67,000 square foot space venue is the largest in the chain. While the venue’s markets open by 9 AM; the restaurants open by 11 AM and stay open to 11 PM daily.
Parking in the Mall is a bit tricky particularly for those who have never been there. We went on a busy Friday afternoon and discovered that the best spot to enter the parking structure was from the Avenue of the Stars entrance. As the place was packed, we ended up on the second floor which was a bit confusing at first. However, my son noticed the but the arrows pointing to the Eataly entrance, so we didn’t get lost.
Tip: Make sure to photograph the parking spot where you left the car so you can find it fast in the endless ocean of vehicles.
Exploring the compound
The megastore is a multi-sensory experience spread on two levels – the first has a Lavazza cafe, gelato place, and the cooking school while the top one is the main event with the food stalls, grocery store, and two sit down restaurants.
We decided to focus on the main floor so my son could enjoy all the sensory aspects of the visit. We are talking sampling foods, seeing the displays and watching how some of the products were created.
Watch the food is made
As the adage goes seeing is believing.
Watching the food being made fresh is part of the essential fun at Eataly. This place can get many interested in learning about food. My son and I worked quite the appetite gawking at the pasta making in progress. And then we stopped at the place where they make fresh mozzarella too (yes, they have samples.)
Right after passing mouth-watering desserts, we entered the actual market packed with imported housewares, chocolates, breadsticks, pasta and jams. Two displays caught our attention. The first was the shiny red Fiat with T-shirts in the hood.And the second less conspicuous but equally attractive was the mountain of cheese wheels.
As we continued our walk, we passed by carefully manicured displays of specialty meat, various cheeses, vegetables, and seafood.
The most impressive we discovered was the seafood stall that had everything organized and cleaned up! My son was fascinated to see the fresh octopus and fish as opposed to the fried patties that land on his plate.
Smell the freshness
The marketplace is sensory heaven!
Fresh fruit, vegetables, roasted coffee, grilled chicken and baked bread all make it smell divine.
Visitors should stop by the pizza place, gawk at the baking procedure and spend the time educating themselves about dry cheeses.
We got to stop by the Olive Oil Bar and sample some of the liquid gold offerings. A far fetch from supermarket bottles, the olive oil here is treated like the holy grail. Patrons can come with their containers and have them filled with the caveated oil of their choice.
Taste the food
We briefly passed by the bread bakery ‘La Panetteria’ before our nostrils took us straight to the ‘Pizza Alla Palla.’ Their Roman-style pizza is served on a wooden paddle and comes with vegetables and meat toppings. I ended up standing in line twice since our son ended eating my slice.He later declared this to be the best pizza he’s ever had!
On the bottom floor, the quaint Lavazza Cafe sells an assortment of espresso, affogato, and macchiato specialty beverages. The next door gelateria has 30 flavors of gelato and sorbets. Those can be enjoyed inside a cannoli cone or freshly fried bomboloni which are sugar-coated donuts.
Skip the panigacci
True, the L.A. location is the only Eataly where you can try the flatbread. The bread imported from Panigacci di Potenza is a version of crispy pita bread. Following the hype, we got to taste it with cold cuts and in its sweet version with Nutella spread. Honestly, it wasn’t different from a dried naan bread. So we decided it wasn’t worth our while.
Other spots to try the fare are Il Panini e la Cibatti for Italian-style cold sandwiches, L’Orto Dello Chef for salads, soups, and fresh juices and la Rosticerria that serves meats, paninis, and antipasto.
Autism Travel Tips
- Since Eataly LA is popular, it is best explored on non-holiday weekdays when the crowds are small.
- When bringing your kids here, make sure to ask any questions you may have about their allergies.
- The cost of food can add up quickly here. I would set a budget before going inside, so you do not overspend.
- .Considering Eataly is multiple floors; comfortable shoes are a must-have for little ones.
Overall, my trip to Eataly was not only fun but also educational. We learned about new foods and new recipes and even new cultures. We cannot wait to go back again.
Have you been to Eataly? What was your favorite part?