If you don’t quite feel comfortable zooming off on a plane to experience Italy in all of its glory in the flesh, Eataly provides the perfect space to lose yourself in the beauty of the culinary world that Italy holds the key to. 

Since hearing about the opening, I’ve been longing to make a trip to Eataly. The huge concept store opened up earlier this summer and quickly became a favourite amongst Londoners, from Instagrammers snapping photos of the gelato through to TikTokers dubbing it as London’s answer to Italy. And finally it was my turn to explore it in all of its glory. 

Upon entering, I felt like a child walking into a sweetshop for the first time. Filled with excitement, the space opened up a world of possibility. Where would I explore first? What delicious morsel would make its onto my fork to begin?

I’ll admit, the whole concept felt a lot smaller than I had conjured up in my imagination. When I first heard the words ‘over 5,000 quality Italian and local food products’, my mind pictured a giant emporium of products. And granted, Eataly does offer that but for some reason I was expecting the whole concept to be even bigger than I found it. That’s not to say there isn’t a whole host to see. 

Thankfully, I had a table booked at Eataly’s Pasta e Pizza restaurant upstairs, but that didn’t stop me from exploring everything that waited once I stepped foot through the doors.

Filled with excitement, the space opened up a world of possibility.

Once I had made my way through the giant rotating doors, immediately my eyes were drawn to the gelato station. Abrim with so many beautiful, vibrant and colourful flavours, it really did feel like I’d stepped foot into Pisa or Venice, with so much choice. My companion and I looked at each other immediately, making a note to make our way downstairs after dinner to sample some. (Sadly we were actually far too full from all of the dough we’d devoured but also it’s an excuse to head back here, so I’m not complaining at all). 

Alongside the gelato counter was the fresh bakery, with the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the air. We spotted delicious sounding focaccia available for takeaway, which made us long to work a little closer to the concept store so we would head here for our lunch break during work.

We quickly made our way through to La Pasticceria, a space dedicated to fresh Italian handcrafted pastries, cakes and sweets. The multicoloured medley of lights above our heads made it feel as though we were waltzing through a Christmas market, filled with everything from tiramisu to panettone. I made a mental note to head back here towards Christmas time for presents for family – luckily, my journey back to my parents place is via Liverpool Street so it’ll come in incredibly handy. 

The Pasta Fresca Bar, home to freshly made pasta that’s made in-house every single day, was a sight to behold. I’ve never seen so many shapes, curls and styles of pasta in one place before, and was incredibly envious of the gentleman in front of me purchasing his favourite sauces and shapes to take home for his evening meal.

Carefully dodging the queues of people at the checkout counter, we quickly headed upstairs before our reservation to explore the rest of the store. Rows upon rows of freshly caught fish, ethically farmed and sustainably sourced meat and cured Italian meats and cheese awaited us at their stationed counters. Alongside the La Frutta e la Verdura, a space to pick up the best tomatoes in the world: San Marzano. My companion was incredibly impressed having frequently bought the tinned versions throughout lockdown while perfecting his pizza recipe. 

Heading further, we quickly explored the sauces, condiments and dried section, before looking around the marvellous wine cellar, where we were presented proudly with the UK’s largest selection of Italian wines.

The clock soon struck 6pm and we headed over to the restaurant, Pasta e Pizza. A buzz of noise quickly drew our attention as we followed our waiter to our table for the evening. We were sitting just past the bar, which is situated in front of the Il Caseificio, the space where their experts made their famous mozzarella and fresh cheese daily. 

The restaurant prides itself on wood-fired pizza and traditional pasta, so it didn’t take us long to know what we would likely be delighting on. 

Famous for their Aperol spritz, we obviously had to try a couple of these to kick off our meal. And they were as delicious as we could have hoped for. When at university, my partner and I had both worked at the same restaurant-bar and we were always told to skimp on the Prosecco and Aperol and just top up the glass with soda, so it was really nice to actually see how they do it properly in an authentic Italian restaurant.

The restaurant prides itself on wood-fired pizza and traditional pasta, so it didn’t take us long to know what we would likely be delighting on. 

On the food front, we opted for Olive Di Cerignola – honestly these were the BIGGEST olives I’ve ever seen and were so tasty, not overly salty like your typical supermarket buy – and shared one Pizzetta All’aglio and one Pizza Fritta between us. The former was so delicious – a posh take on your traditional garlic bread, slathered in rosemary and garlic olive oil. Sadly, it was overshadowed by our table’s favourite, the Pizza Fritta. It’s essentially fried pizza dough that tastes like you’re biting into a savoury doughnut. Served alongside tomato coulis, we couldn’t fault it. 

After ordering another round of Aperol spritz, we made way for our mains. Slightly full already, we opted for two of their house staples. First up, a Marinara pizza. So simple, so fresh and bouncy dough, it was a treat. For those of you who haven’t tried one before, it’s a pizza without the cheese or toppings, and a space where the Italian tomatoes and herbs can take centre stage. Which in this case, they certainly did.

We also shared the Spaghetto Eataly, which we’d seen plastered all over the restaurant as it’s their signature, simple dish. Again, another dish that lets the tomatoes really come into their own. Super al dente and rich with just the Datterino tomatoes (there is no garlic or flavourings aside from raw Sicilian salt, extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil), it might have managed to take the top out of all the dishes. 

With a stomach full of carbs and a head a little hazy from the Aperol spritz’, we nipped around the store once more in awe of all of the Italian delicacies before heading on the tube home. If, like us, your holiday to Italy isn’t likely this summer, Eataly provides the perfect space to immerse yourself in the beauty of the European country right here in London.

Eataly – 135 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3YD

www.eataly.co.uk


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