Eataly is the kinda place I instantly and blindly hate on. Fuck Eataly, I have Rafetto's, Pino's and Joe's Dairy no more than 3 blocks from my fire escape.
Monday afternoon, Tori and I walked up 5th Ave to Batali's Disneyland and I was very pleasantly surprised. The space is large and the layout is open with 5 or so main sections - Butchers, Seafood (w/ a crada bar), Desserts, Produce, walls of Olive Oil, etc. I found the typography to be easy to navigate and the feel very clean with white tiles, hints of marble and just enough bright light. Condiments, sweets & beautiful cans of everything Italian color the space between the main areas. It's a good looking place.
While walking through the little pathways I stumbled upon the WALL of Olive Oil and was immediately asked if I needed any help or was interested in a tasting. Duhhh, um, yea... The sommelier of oil let us taste 2 diff oils and talked with us about some others until we were sorted with a much improved bottle for about the same price I'd been paying for the Colavita "crap" (he literally called it crap which was a bit much, but he'd earned a pass).
I was surprised to find much of the pricing appealing. Sure, you can buy 40 dollar lb of mushrooms, a glass of 15 dollar vino and a can of sardines for 100 clams, but you can also scoop a special bunch of carrots, a couple hands full of dark purple potatoes or some perfectly caliente green chilli peppers for less than a subway swipe. Furthermore, why hate on matchless, Italian imports priced for people who can afford such things? Eataly is on 23rd st, 25 years removed from Jim Carroll & Chris Mack's 23rd st. of wandering methadoners.
So, next time you're in the hood, stop by for a snack or a quick once over - they did a wonderful job with the place.
Post Script: I'm goin' back for those sardines!