By Paxtyn Merten, deputy city editor
Eataly Boston, an experiential shopping marketplace featuring Italian foods and products, will open in the Boylston Arcade of the Prudential Center at 4 p.m. Nov. 29.
Eataly’s self-described style is “informal but assertive; modest but proud; honest but clever,” as proclaimed in signs hanging around the market. Between three floors, four restaurants, 10 eateries, three bars, two cafes, one cooking school and thousands of products for sale, Eataly’s founders aim to allow people to “eat, shop and learn” at the marketplace.
“We expect to learn from you how to better serve your needs,” said American chef Mario Batali, an Eataly USA partner.
There are approximately 30 Eataly locations around the world, the first of which opened in Turin, Italy in 2007, according to the market’s handbook. Each location has a different theme depending on what the region is known for. Eataly Boston will be based on the sea, featuring seafood throughout the market and at its restaurant “Il Pesce.”
“Il Pesce” will be headed by chef collaborator Barbara Lynch, a renowned chef and restaurateur. The menu will change with the seasons, as will food available throughout Eataly due to the market’s focus on foods that are seasonal and abundant.
Another one of Eataly’s restaurants, “La Piazza,” represents an Italian city square and is comprised of four corner shops surrounding a small central square, according to the market’s handbook. These counters offer shareable platters of meat and cheese, oysters and other seafood, alcoholic beverages and a rotating corner, which will feature different regional Italian foods as the seasons change.
Eataly’s other operational restaurant offers signature pizza and pasta dishes. The third-floor restaurant, referred to as “Terra,” is still in the works and will not open along with the rest of the marketplace next week.
Other eateries throughout the market offer these food options and more, including breakfast items, coffee, tea, sandwiches, salads, baked goods and sweets.
Everything prepared for customers is also sold raw — along with Italian-brand housewares — to entice shoppers to cook in their own homes using Eataly’s products, Batali said.
“We have chosen local products that are consistent with our ideology,” he said. “All decisions you make about food are political decisions. We are thinking about the decisions and long-term sustainability of our delicious food and customers.”
To teach customers about the market’s products, the marketplace features dozens of informational signs which describe the history of the products and their roles in Italian cuisine. Employees are also educated on products and “will talk to you for an hour and a half about a chicken,” Batali said at a press preview event Nov. 18.
“We are that passionate. We are that excited,” Batali said.
The cooking school will host free demonstrations and ticketed classes to teach people how to cook some of the foods offered at Eataly, according to the market’s handbook.
Other than thematic focuses, all Eataly locations are different based on the local businesses chosen as suppliers.
“We are not a chain. We are a family,” Batali said. “We have the same name, but we are different. The cappuccinos and gelato in Boston will be made with different milk than in New York. This is what we are trying to do to be special.”
Island Creek Oysters, a company based in Boston and Duxbury, Massachusetts that grows and collects oysters from 80 small farms, partnered with Eataly New York. The company’s president, Chris Sherman, said he is glad to be able to partner with Eataly Boston.
“There should be more stores where you can drink wine and shop,” Sherman said at the press preview event, causing the audience to laugh.
Island Creek Oysters Boston Sales Representative William Weiss said that Island Creek farmers and salesmen will educate Eataly employees and the public on growing oysters.
“Our partnership makes a lot of sense,” Weiss said. “Island Creek and Eataly have the same ethos: We want to provide the public with the best quality product and educate them along the way.”
Local businesses and farms expressed their gratitude to be working with Eataly, including dairy farms Arethusa Farm, based in Litchfield, Connecticut and High Lawn Farm, based in Lee, Massachusetts.
Roberto Lauren, the general manager of High Lawn Farm, said that his company is proud to be a part of Eataly.
Arethusa Farm owner Tony Yurgaitis also talked highly of his partnership with Eataly.
“Local farmers from New England need the market to survive,” Arethusa Farm owner Tony Yurgaitis said. “We don’t want to lose farms, and Eataly is helping us. […] Eataly embraced us because they knew the quality. Quality really sells, and people of this caliber appreciate quality.”
Photo by Alex Melagrano