Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic for Italy (like right after I watched Pixar’s recently released Luca), my mind turns to the amazing colorful scenery and salty air of Positano and the incredible history, ambiance and, of course, cuisine of Rome.
But, knowing that a trip to Italy is still many months away, I relied on my go-to Italian favorite right in Chicago – Eataly – to, once again, fill my Italian void.
What is Eataly? I’m glad you asked. Well, it’s a one-stop destination for all things authentically Italian. From fresh pastas, to sauces….charcuterie to cheese … chocolate to gelato and lots and lots of wine – Eataly brings the many flavors of Italy under one huge roof (and many times, across multiple levels).
Although Eataly started as a marketplace more than a decade ago, it’s really more than just an Italian-themed grocery store. It’s also a place for those who love all things Italian (like me!) to learn more about how to make their amazing food plus have the opportunity to sample food and wine right on the spot.
With over 40 locations around the world – including 8 in North America, Eataly is meant to be experienced with all of your senses, much like Italy itself. So when I have the good fortune of visiting one of their many locations, there are 5 items I rarely leave without buying:
5 Must-Have Italian Favorites from Eataly Chicago
Wine – Of course, let’s start with the best (and most obvious). From reds to whites, you really can’t go wrong with Eataly wines. My personal preference? Sparkling Prosecco or Rose – and lots of it!
Coffee – Technically I do not buy Eataly coffee to be consumed outside of the market. Instead, I savor a freshly made Lavazza cappuccino or latte served in a standard Italian cappuccino glass which showcases its many, colorful and creamy layers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my at-home Nespresso machine, but there’s just something about having someone else make your cappuccino that makes it that much more decadent – wouldn’t you agree?
Cookies – So many cookies, so little time (and so many calories!). I absolutely adore little Italian cookies, especially anything lemon, including Quadratini lemon cookies and Grisbi’s lemon filled shortbread cookies. The cookies are a lovely reminder of how cappuccinos are meant to be served (and how they are nearly always served in Italy) – with a cookie (or two) on the side.
Chocolate – On my first trip to Italy nearly 6 years ago, I discovered the amazing gourmet chocolate – Venchi. Of course, Venchi has been available in the US for years, but somehow “discovering” it in Italy made it much more memorable to me and even more delicious. And after buying a large box of chocolate treats to eat on the train from Florence to Rome – I was hooked! Now, when I need a Venchi fix, I look no further than Eataly. Beware, the chocolate is very pricey, but a worthwhile splurge when you are missing the Eternal City.
Pasta – And last, but certainly not least…I rarely leave Eataly without buying at least two bags of pasta – specifically, trofie pasta. Trofie is a short, thin, twisted pasta and offers a very delicate taste. It’s perfect with butter, fresh Parmesan cheese and lots of pepper (think, cacio di pepe) – our favorite side dish paired with grilled Italian sausage on a summer night.
And there you have it…my 5 must-have items whenever I shop at Eataly. Next time you are in Chicago, or any of these locations around the world, be sure to stop by for a taste of Italy.