You'll never be able to walk past a grape vine…
Eataly is located inside the Zorlu Center, on the European side of Istanbul. When I arrived I was assaulted by the sight of incredibly swank cars parked on the curb out front. These cars cost millions of Turkish Liras by the way. Then, the best of LVMH, chic little eateries..people ultra clean, and suited up with the typical armor of Istanbul “elite” (social climbers): expensive perfume, handbag/briefcase, and shoes. Labels prominently displayed.
Then, there it was…. Eataly…on the same floor. Instinctively my feeling was that it was not going to be what I expected. Sadly, this was no mercato del villaggio. I’m a food geek; so was naturally anticipating the opening for a long time, especially after the anticlimactic Dean & DeLuca rollout here.
The store design is overwhelmingly beautiful I must admit. Immediately one is struck by the sight of bright, open kitchens, gorgeous marble countertops and tables; chrome and copper fixtures, appliances, pots, and pans everywhere. Sizable, polished espresso machines lined the massive coffee bar. I had a double shot of espresso and it was outstanding. I also had a cannoli, which was overpriced, and terrible. The taste of stale grease overwhelmed the filling unfortunately. There was mozzarella cheese being prepared, before my eyes, in the cheese section, which was fun to see in person. There was a large selection of Turkish cheese, but not much in the way of Italian varieties. There was an array of dry aged steaks and prosciutto in large meat cases; gorgeous displays of assorted dried nuts and fruits, and surprisingly, not Italian in origin, gogi and blueberries, also replete with sizable prices. I loved the long reading tables interspersed throughout the grocery store, filled with magazines and books to complement each section. The fresh bread area was small, but the loaves were works of art to my eyes. I love common, Turkish breads, but it was nice to see and taste European styles as well. I miss that dense, crisp crust.
There was a large gelato bar made for mass consumption, apparently, as the gelato was emerging from multiple machines like soft serve ice cream at McDonalds: creamy, lacking in taste, but eight times the price. I saw they had another smaller area with a larger assortment of gelato flavors that were being held and scooped from pans, as traditional gelato is. In the dessert area was an obvious advertisement for Nutella: a huge display jar casting its formidable girth across the floor. The apron and tote bag section was disappointing as well. Emblazoned across their signature tote was “Eataly is Italy”. Really, thats all their design team could come up with? It’s insulting to Italy as I’m sure there are better products made and sold there that were not getting face time on the shelves of Eataly. I was hoping to find a nice selection of different types of vermouth, but sadly, no. They did have Martini and Rossi though, available at any liquor store the world over…yay.
Read the labels before you buy, as the house label panettone contained mono and diglycerides. The verbena and lavender hand soap contained sodium laurel sulphate and chemical fragrance.
There was one brand of truffle oil, but no truffle salt. The pizza was good: the crust was a perfect ten in my opinion…chewy, and crisp. The pasta was subpar; terribly undercooked (I know what al dente is supposed to feel like, and this wasn’t it), with perhaps a tablespoon of Bolognese sauce strewn about.
Delonghi products, though not well designed and crafted, featured prominently. I was however pleased to see a really nice selection of Alessi moka pots.
In a nutshell, I was disappointed to see so many well known brands. I was hoping to actually discover something.