A few days ago, Roger and I spent a very pleasant “Italian day”…in Chicago.  We went to see Verdi’s La Traviata, the tragic love story of Violetta and Alfredo.  It appears that most operas are synonymous with tragic love stories, aren’t they?  We also spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at Eataly.

La Traviata was my mom’s favorite opera, and she played it often when I was growing up.  I like it because you don’t have to wait too long between beautiful pieces of music unlike some other operas.  My husband Roger is passionate about the opera—I’m not; but, since I’m passionate about him, I go along for the ride.

When we bought tickets to see La Traviata at Chicago’s Lyric Opera, we were unaware that Mario Batali’s second Italian emporium, Eataly—larger  than his first in New York City, would have its grand opening that week.  We had actually had the opportunity to visit NYC’s Eataly shortly after it opened while we were visiting our oldest son and were excited to learn that Chicago would have its own Eataly as well.  We immediately made plans to eat there that day.

Eataly has numerous restaurants, some of which are dedicated to one food group as in La Carne, Il Pesce, La Pasta, and Le Verdure to name just a few.  We actually ate at La Rosticceria where we shared a prime rib sandwich—the shaved beef was butter tender.  You could have been toothless and gummed it with no problem!  It was so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating it long enough to take a photo of it for you.

After eating, we walked through the entire emporium marveling at the display of fresh and packaged Italian food products for sale.  There were giant wheels of Parmigiana-Reggiano stacked on a pallet, so large that I know I wouldn’t have been able to pick one up without straining something.

There was a mind-boggling array of other cheese and Italian salumi (not to be confused with salami) which are cured Italian meat products including prosciutto.

The regular meat case offered beautiful cuts of “la carne.”

The fresh fish was very enticing.

There were fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs for sale.

The fresh pasta had more varieties than I’ve ever seen offered in one case, including squid tagliatelle!

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Eataly also sells packaged pasta, tomato puree in bottles—and, of course, olive oil.

Sweets are prolific—there is a standalone Nutella bar!

I’ve never found an Italian who didn’t like gianduja, the wonderful hazelnut and chocolate combo.  We sampled a hazelnut sandwich cookie and a shortbread cutout sandwich cookie, both filled with Nutella.

A separate bakery had tiramisu, a tri-colored panna cotta (delicious!), and a myriad of other drool-worthy desserts.  Do I need to tell you that they also had a gelato store?  Hazelnut gelato, mmm…

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Eataly offers a huge assortment of wine for sale, has its own microbrewery, and a couple of coffee shops.  Definitely something for everyone and every palate.

To round things out, there is also a bookstore and a housewares department.

So, no recipes today—just a photo tour.  (I used my phone so some photos may not be as clear as usual.)  Enjoy…

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Here’s to sweet endings–gianduja fudge!

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