Eataly Boston Opens at Prudential Center

Chef Barbara Lynch's seafood restaurant Il Pesce is one of four restaurants in Eataly which held its grand opening Tuesday in the Prudential Center. Photo by Sarah Toy/BU News Service
Written by Shannon Golden

Shannon Golden
BU News Service

The smell of fresh bread, the clinking of wine glasses, and the buzz of excited conversation filled the air at Eataly’s grand opening on Tuesday. From cheese to meat and gelato to espresso, it was clear why Eataly’s arrival in Boston was long awaited.

The grand opening’s private reception offered generous samples at each section of the Italian mega-market to give guests a taste of what to expect. Guests traveled from one section to the next discovering all that Eataly has to offer, while workers roamed the store with samples on trays.

“Eataly is like a piece of an Italian city,” said celebrity chef and Eataly partner, Lidia Bastianich. “It’s like three to four blocks of Italy put together with all of the best spirits, flavors, smells, and tastes. Italy is kind of transported to this area and it is done because Eataly is Italian food 360 degrees.”

The first Eataly opened in Italy in 2007. From there it has spread to Japan, New York City, Chicago, and now, Boston. The Italian phenomenon is co-owned by Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich, and Alex and Adam Saper.

Eataly Boston has four restaurants, 10 take-away counters, five bars, an abundant marketplace featuring fresh food, and a cooking school.

Donna MacDonald, head cooking school instructor, will take charge of Eataly’s first ever hands-on cooking classes. MacDonald, who comes from the New York City location, explained that the other locations only offer demonstration classes.

“People want to be engaged and touch the food,” MacDonald said. “When we have a cooking class it is going to be like cooking with friends. Together we will build a dinner.”

The cooking school is not the only place where guests can be engaged with the food process. Customers can watch fresh pasta being made, the butchering of a cow, the filling of cannoli’s, the opportunity to create their own crepes, and more.

Visitors will find a large selection of wine, beer, and Italian liquor at Eataly. A reserve section is tucked inside where the best wines are held in a temperature controlled room.

“We have over 1,500 SKUs of Italian wine,” John McKusick, the beer buyer for Eataly, said. “Our wine is separated by region to give you a taste of the different areas of Italy.”

Each section of the store offers experts in that area to assist customers with any questions or pairings they might need. Some of the workers are from Italy and can offer inside information about the products they sell.

Eataly staff were passionate about their commitment to buying their products from as many local farmers and fishermen as possible.

“We get our meats from local farms like Stillman’s Prime Quality Meats,” Peter Molinari, a butcher, said. “And our cases here will always contain fresh meat because it will be constantly transported out to the restaurants here at the end of the day if it isn’t sold.”

One enthusiastic Eataly customer at the grand opening was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

“We have a global city, we have a lot of draws to our city and Eataly will be a major draw,” Walsh said. “This is truly an incredible opportunity here in Boston. I have been fortunate enough to be mayor of Boston over the past three years and I can’t think of a more exciting day.”

Eataly’s doors opened to the general public at 4 p.m. with lines twisting throughout the Prudential Center. When customers arrived inside they filled baskets full of groceries and scooped up samples.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous,” Lauren Borislow, a customer exploring Eataly Boston for the first time, said. “I love how organized it is and the juice bar is great, they don’t have that at the one in New York.”

Eataly has been envisioned a bustling Italian marketplace that allows its customers to eat, shop, and learn  about Italian food culture.

“I am so excited to bring Eataly to Boston,” Batali said. “As long as you can say bonjourno, as far as we are concerned, you’re Italian too.”

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