No, the titular terms are not misspelled. Eataly is a deliberate allusion to . . .Italy. (I know, not exactly surprising.) And, it is also (again not surprising) emphasizing the notion of eating. Modified by Chicago -- aka the Windy City -- this is all about a food emporium at 43 East Ohio Street in the city.
Eataly is, kind of, a grocery store, if by grocery store you mean department store of food and food-related stuff circling around restaurants or eateries of various sorts. In the case of Eataly Chicago, you can buy produce and charcuterie (the best dry proscuitto I have ever had), cheese, fish, meat, pasta, olive oil (too many kinds for me to even consider listing), cooking utensils, chocolate, gelato, drinks (alcohol related and not), and. . . well, loads of things from Italy. And, the dining establishments range from a fish place (complete with oysters), a meat venue (where I have eaten twice -- see below), a pizza place, and more. Plus, and very importantly, 50% or so of their desserts are gluten free. Goes to show you -- the term gluten free does not mean "Serve me roughly chopped fruit on a plate."
Eataly veers between wonderfulness and overwhelmingness. It is right there at the intersection of way too indulgent and. . . just perfect. (With two minor exceptions. First: I actively dislike their women's room. It is too small, kind of grungy and unpleasant. And, for some reason I am cold all the time when I am at Eataly. And, this was before the outside temperature plummeted.).
On eating in: well, it is kind of noisy, but nowhere near the Purple Pig level of chaos or waiting (a place with perfect food, to be honest and a nice bathroom, so they are clearly not mutually exclusive.) In both cases that I have eaten at Eataly, I have dined at the meat restaurant. Here's what I shared each time and a few comments:
*Slow braised short rib -- I think braised in barrolo. Ok: this was (to quote the person I dined with) "to die for." It was dark, melting-ly chewable, and tasted exactly like I imagined. I have a vague feeling we ordered a kale salad-y thing with it, which as you can tell, left little impression, especially sicne I can still imagine every mouthful of the kale salad at . . . Purple Pig. We drank lovely brunello with it, and that, too, was perfect.
On our second visit, we had two dishes: (a) polenta with tomato sauce and a poached egg (which was absolutely splendid, even though I am still just a little squeamish about poached eggs); and (b) a daily special that involved sausage, lentils and roasted grapes. (The sausage was pork and porcini; the roasted grapes were really odd and wonderful.) I had a very inexpensive (for Eataly) wine which went perfectly and the brunello was there at the counter too -- being drunk by my partner.
The brunello is worth the $24 a pop, though my $10 glass of wine was really really good. The overall cost feels high if you think you are eating in a grocery store, not so bad at all if it is a restaurant.
A few other things: I bought two very cute little cans of olive oil on the first trip. Worth every penny to have two that taste so dissimilar. The cheese and meats we bought were . . . the best ever. I bought a few hard candies and fruit jellies on my second visit. They lasted very little time -- and tasted very good.
All in all, I like Eataly. It might wear off. But not soon. Not, at least, 'til I go to a class or . . . try some of Lidia's favorites. (She tempts me more than Mario. . . ) No clue what I am sayikng? Check out the Eataly website in general or here.