There’s a new attraction in town, and its name is certainly fitting. Eataly, located on 43 E. Ohio, is an integrated Italian marketplace full of groceries, food stands and restaurants. Basically, it’s a mall for lovers of Italian stuff.
Being a lover of everything Italian myself, I came in with high expectations. Upon first entering the place, you’ll notice the insane amount of people shopping there. I understand it being the new fad place of Chicago, but it was actually difficult to navigate through the crowd of people.
This was only a small roadblock, however, in my mission for delicious Italian food.
Within seconds, you realize the sheer enormity of Eataly. There’s everything: pastas, chocolates, meats, sauces and houseware. But this is only the beginning to what Eataly offers. Near the entrance is a stand that sells Nutella on bread. It may not seem like much, but anyone who has tried Nutella knows this may be something to try. More impressively, though, spread throughout the multi-leveled mall are 23 Italian restaurants. After some deliberation, I decided to eat at one called La Pizza La Pasta.
This is where the wow-effect of Eataly started to crumble, and the reality of it started becoming clear. The seating area was filled with plastic tables and chairs, similar to a patio set you’d find at the entrance of a Menards.
It was packed there, as well, with tables being uncomfortably close to one another. The worst part is that there are no walls — the eating areas are simply a continuation of the rest of Eataly.
And the prices are ridiculous. The average you can expect to pay for a dish is $15. I ended up sharing a pizza (Napoletana, $15) and pasta (Tortiglioni, $17), as well as a glass of wine ($10). It came with bread, which paled in comparison to other quality Italian restaurants. Both the pizza and pasta are very small in portion size, particularly for hungry college students.
The quality of the food itself was so unbelievably average. Nothing tasted unique or particularly delicious in any way, and for the price, I expected at least bigger portions.
In total, the bill was about $50, and with tip (which probably could have been much less, considering the service was below average) was $60. I spent $60 on food that did not satisfy, nor fill me. For this reason, I cannot recommend Eataly.
I know I haven’t tried their other restaurants, but one overpriced experience is enough for me. They do offer a large variety of Italian grocery items, but these are accessible at a Jewel-Osco for the most part, unless you need a very niche item. Try Eataly for yourself, but make sure to bring extra cash if you will be dining there.