My wife and I visited Eataly on a visit to Rome during last summer. We had never heard of it and were taken there by our cousins in Rome. It can best be described as a supermarket with a difference.
What is the difference? Well you can buy the best of Italian produce in every type of food and drink product but you can also sit and eat it freshly prepared in a clean bright environment, or you can treat yourseld to the formal dining experience on the top floor, or you can learn to cook Italian specialities in the cookery school also on the top floor.
So where is it? It is located in a former train station to the south of Rome city centre, south of Testaccio area. The station was built specilaly to cater for the football fans flocking to Rome for the World Cup in 1990. Indeed trains still run through the platforms to this day. After the World Cup the station fell into disuse and it became colonised by the homeless and by all accounts was a pretty dangerous place.
Now, fully renovated it comprises a huge, bright, clean building over four floors with great views from the top floor formal restaurant.
As you enter at ground level through the former main entrance to the station you enter the ground floor. Straight ahead of you are household goods and kitchen gadgets of every sort. The the right is fruit and vegetables and a section where fresh Buffalo Mozzerella is produced. Closeby is the deli section selling cheese and ham etc. Beside each of these areas are formal set dining areas where you can buy produce and eat it on the premises.
Go up the escalators to the next floor and you come across sections for pasta, truffles and mushrooms and fried delicacies. Each again has its own designated dinning areas where you can try anything prepared freshly for you by the chefs on duty. You can buy any type of fresh or packaged pasta that you can imagine prepared fresh to take away or eat on the premises.
The next floor has an enormous Itlaian wine section- quite the most extensive range I have ever seen; a big real ale section with its own bar so you can taste, a coffee section where they have a full coffee bar with seating just as in a traditional italian bar and a cake section that has to be seen to be believed. Everything prepared fresh. The wine varied from a 600€ Barolo to wine sold by the bottle from barrells for a few euros a litre.
On the top floor is the formal restaurant. This is glass on three sides with great views. It is a formal restaurant - silver service style. This is expensive. The evening menu is over 100€ a head but at lunch time it was around 55€ a head. Next to that is an enormous area where trained chefs will teach you how to cook your favourite dishes. There is also a section with futuristic kitchen appliances; a seating area, conference facility and restrooms.
We thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the store even although we didn't buy a great deal. We had some coffees in the bar area and as it was mid morning we only took snacks although the various areas temted us sorely. You can reach it on foot from the centre if you are fit but a train, taxi or by car is probably a more realistic option. About ten minutes by car if you know where you are going. If all else fails, in the middle of the ground floor there is a grand piano which anyone can sit and play. I hear a wee girl of about 6 years of age playing happy birthday and an elderly gent who played a section from a Beethoven piano concert - no 5 - I think!
I have attached some photos to try to convey what the place is like. Well worth a visit
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