There’s something magical about a trip to Italy. It has amazing architecture, art, and history—but if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s all about the food. You’d fly across the Atlantic for a single plate of gnocchi if you could.
However, you just need to find your way to Chicago. Eataly Chicago is the Michigan Avenue version of an Italian market, a bustling epicenter of pastas, vegetables, oils, and other delectable goods that the brand has made its name on since opening in Turin in 2007.
Although Eataly Chicago is laid out like an Italian market, it’s designed with Windy City weather in mind, so the 63,000 square feet of products are all under one roof. If you were traipsing through a Neopolitan bazaar, you’d grab a gelato and take a passeggiata (evening stroll) down a cobblestone street. At Eataly, stop at the gelateria on the first floor before meandering past the wall of gourmet chocolate, perusing the Italian guidebooks, and re-indulging at the Nutella Bar.
Once you’ve toured the sweets, you can venture upstairs to where things take a savory turn. Cheeses, meats, fishes, and pasta all abound, and each group is showcased in its own section. Yes, Eataly earns its reputation for extravagance—you will come across the occasional $300 bottle of balsamic vinegar—but think of the money saved on airfare.
As for souvenirs, how about a jar of black truffles from Umbria—home to St. Francis of Assisi and schools for truffle-hunting dogs. If you want to spark some conversation at your next dinner party, opt for a box of strozzapreti, or “priest-strangler” pasta. Pick up luscious local heirloom tomatoes and some rich Parmigiano-Reggiano. If you’re a bit lost, either on how to navigate the expanse or with what to do with these fine ingredients, you can get insider knowledge with the help of a cooking class or walking tour of Eataly, both led by experts in Italian food.
Maybe you have no intention of cooking for yourself. After all, Eataly holds nine restaurants that offer flavors from all over the Boot. If you’re a diner who likes a little of everything, have a seat at La Piazza for a parade of small dishes, including four different types of fresh mozzarella. Or visit La Pizza & La Pasta. If you’re mouth doesn’t water at the thought of a margherita pizza pulled crackling from a brick oven, or fresh ravioli stuffed with spring peas, ricotta, pecorino and mint, perhaps a trip to Italy wasn’t never meant to be. But you can whet your appetite at Eataly Chicago anytime.