Restaurant Review: Eataly
It’s no secret that I’m a hard nut to crack when it comes to Italian food. It’s a cuisine very close to my heart and I take umbrage to restaurants calling themselves Italian when they’re not even remotely close. Then along comes Eataly and it’s so Italian I don’t hear English being spoken for ages and when I take my first bite of pizza straight out the oven, I’m officially on the streets of Milano.
At its heart, Italian food is simple and its simplicity comes from the fact that its all-natural ingredients are so pure and delicious you don’t need to manipulate them. Pizza is best when the dough is made with quality flour (not refined to within an inch of its life), then topped with tomatoes that taste like they should – nothing artificial or watered down – and cheese that’s made in-house twice daily. That’s what you’re getting at Eataly and that’s the brand’s whole ethos. It’s about democratising good quality biodiverse ingredients; organic produce and food made by hand are not the exclusive territory of chefs and the privileged. It’s these principles that have seen Eataly aligned with Slow Food – the Italian-born movement focused on educating people about where their food comes from. When there’s such care going into the ingredients, you taste it in the finished dish and this is how a simple pizza or plate of pasta goes from good to exceptional. I know Italian food is often pigeon-holed into these two categories, but I’ll admit I didn’t make it much further than trying these two. I didn’t want to. With the perfectly cooked Margherita followed by an incredibly tasty and freshly made tortellini with Bolognese sauce, I was satisfied. OK, well except for some strawberry gelato!
Food stations aside, Eataly is also a supermarket dedicated to all things Italian, from fresh fruit to Christmas cake, cheeses, soft drinks – you name it. The Dubai Mall location means that you are paying a premium and, of course, the fact that everything had to travel some way to get there. But when you have the level of quality Eataly has on offer, a few extra dirhams here and there are justified. Will I scour endless levels of the mall’s ridiculous parking? Will I be dodging prams and resisting the urge to kick slow walkers? For the love of Italy – yes!