Mapping Eataly Boston
An insiders’ guide to navigating Mario Batali’s new pizza-and-pasta emporium in the Prudential Center.
Get ready to deck the halls with soppressata. Just in time for holiday gifting (and gluttony), the Italian food temple known as Eataly has opened in the Prudential Center. Like the chain’s other stateside outposts—one in Chicago, two in New York—the three-level, 45,000-square-foot dining-and-gourmet-shopping complex marries a Slow Food–derived appreciation for local ingredients with some over-the-top features—think gilded pizza ovens, a pedal-operated cannoli cart, and a mozzarella “lab.”
Each of Eataly’s 35 locations worldwide takes on a different theme. Boston’s, appropriately enough, is seafood. “The water is what makes New England similar to Italy,” says Eataly USA CEO Nicola Farinetti, son of the Turin, Italy–based chain’s founder, Oscar Farinetti. He estimates that the marketplace will feed 10,000 people a day and do about $45 million in annual sales. That kind of volume means it can buy entire boatloads of fish, much of it sustainable and from local waters. To ensure the seafood program is done right, Eataly has collaborated with noted Boston chef Barbara Lynch on its Il Pesce dining concept. She’s overseeing the menu alongside executive chef Jason Neve, the former culinary director of Mario Batali’s Las Vegas restaurants.
And there’s more to come. In early 2017, Terra, the complex’s flagship restaurant, will debut with “a crazy new concept in beer,” Farinetti says. “We’re holding off on that because we want to make sure it gets enough attention from everybody.” Somehow, we don’t think that will be a problem.
1. Il Gelato
Purposely located in front of the salad bar to promote a, er, balanced diet, Eataly’s gelateria serves dense scoops made with milk from the Berkshires’ High Lawn Farm. The rotating flavor selection includes nocciola with Piedmont hazelnuts, and Italian Venchi chocolate.
2. Il Pesce
One of three dining areas with table service, Eataly’s fish restaurant gets its culinary direction from Barbara Lynch. Expect raw and cooked preparations that change daily, with a strong emphasis on sustainable local catch. “The idea is to have no menu,” Farinetti says.
3. La Cucina
This pop-up-style restaurant will change its theme and menu every two to three months. It’s debuting as a truffle restaurant, in honor of Italy’s prized fungus. Next year, chefs will fly in from various cities to re-create their regional Italian restaurants in this spot.
4. La Scuola
The themed cooking classes at the food emporium’s other U.S. locations are mostly demo-based. But here you can roll up your sleeves to hand-roll pasta dough and sauté onions in a 10-station kitchen designed by the innovative Italian brand Valcucine.
5. Mozzarella Lab
Providence’s Narragansett Creamery supplies the curds, and Eataly cheesemakers take it from there, stretching and shaping them into glossy rounds of fior di latte. Imported Buffalo mozzarella, of course, is available, too.
6. La Pizza e La Pasta
Gleaming golden ovens with volcanic-rock cooking surfaces crank out Neapolitan-style pizzas in just 90 seconds. If eating among the masses isn’t your thing, you can always take your pie to go. Also stop here for classic pasta dishes such as cacio e pepe.
7. Wine Store
You’ll find about 1,000 Italian wine labels in this area, including, all too conveniently, that by-the-glass chianti you just sipped with your panino. Oenophiles shouldn’t miss the high-end Reserva Room, which showcases bottles from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
8. Cannoli Cart
The Eataly franchise’s first-ever cannoli cart—custom made in Italy, naturally—has wheeled into Boston. Servers fill pastry to order, using a pedal on the cart to pipe rich ricotta cream into the tubelike shells. How the new guy in town plays into the Mike’s vs. Modern rivalry remains to be seen.
9. Creperia Italiania
Gasp—they’re French. But crêpes have been a big hit at the “Nutella Bar” inside other locations, so they’re available here, too. Line up for sweet versions of the thin pancakes, topped with preserves and decadent chocolate spreads.
10. Caffé Lavazza
Eataly’s espresso bar is located right near its Boylston Street entrance, making it easy to pop in for a pre-work espresso or cappuccino made with beans from the Turin-based roaster Lavazza. Pair it with a breakfast panino—because there’s no shame in eating prosciutto in the morning.
illustrations by always with honor
- The complex has two entrances: one inside the Prudential Center and one on Bolyston Street.
- The space’s counters, tables, and bars were crafted from 58,000 pounds of marble.
- Eataly is packed with about 10,000 grocery items, including San Marzano tomatoes and Mario Batali-branded spaghetti.