It’s been a while since my last post on Chicago, but there’s still a lot of stuff that I haven’t posted about yet! We had several wonderful Italian meals in the Windy City – there is certainly an Italian heritage to the city, and it’s reflected in the food.
One of the things that I was really excited about trying was Eataly, which is an Italian food market. The first one in the US was in New York, and the Chicago one followed soon after. Inside the market, they sell everything from cookware to sauces and pasta to fresh produce and meats.
There was a Nutella bar! We didn’t get anything from there, though – we chose something else for dessert (you’ll see later!).
There’s a butcher shop, a seafood shop, a cheese counter, and more…
After browsing the different stations for a bit, we decided to check out the various restaurants for a lunch spot. There are a bunch of restaurants inside Eataly, and we picked La Pizza & La Pasta, which had pretty affordable offerings (compared with some of the other spots). It’s tucked away in one of the corners upstairs – not too hard to find, though, since there are maps of the place all over.
The meal started off with some bread, which wasn’t overly impressive – but the olive oil was quite nice.
Three out of the four of us at lunch decided on pasta… I chose pizza instead, hehe. The pizzas here are Neapolitan, which I’ve never had before, but according to our waitress’ description, is made with a specific flour mix and must be made according to a certain process in order to be genuinely Neapolitan.This pizza immediately stood out to me because of its description. When it arrived, all that we could smell was the black truffle cream… which tasted amazing, as did the Italian sausage, which had a mild flavor that complemented the rest of the ingredients nicely. The crust had a nice chewiness to it and held up well to the cheese, cream, and toppings. All of us really loved this.
From the pasta section, our waitress explained that half of the menu featured dried pastas, and the other half were fresh. Of course, everyone went with the fresh pastas.The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente, and the short rib ragu was quite flavorful. The tomato-based sauce did feel a bit heavy, though, so I’m not sure how I would have felt about the dish towards the end. As you probably guessed, this is a squid-ink pasta. This one was my favorite out of the pastas that we tried, and definitely the best squid ink pasta that I’ve had. The flavor of the squid ink was subtle, but added a wonderful complexity to the dish that was already chock full of other seafood. Speaking of which, the amount of shrimp, calamari, and clams was quite generous, and all cooked perfectly.
Lastly, S chose one of the daily specials:
We couldn’t recall exactly what was in here, but I do remember that it was fresh fettuccine, with a light cream sauce, pancetta, and fresh peas. It actually tasted quite a bit like carbonara to me, although I don’t think that was quite what the waitress called it. We enjoyed this one a lot, too – the sauce wasn’t overly heavy, and while S doesn’t like peas, I thought that they added a nice freshness to the dish.
Utterly satisfied with our meal, we decided to explore a bit more before having dessert…
Does anyone else feel that shishito peppers were really “in” this year? I feel like I had been seeing them everywhere this summer.
Anyway, desserts were downstairs – there was a beautiful display case of treats and candies – I really wanted everything!
But once I saw the gelato counter, I knew that was it.
Sigh, I’m a sucker for gelato. Here, they have the usual gelato display case, but there’s also “Lait”, which is gelato soft-serve. Not sure how it works since gelato is supposed to have less air, but soft-serve should have more, but we tried it.
The sweet milk was so good. Well, the texture of all three flavors that we tried was fantastic – smooth, creamy, velvety. But the sweet milk flavor was my absolute favorite – it just had that extra rich taste, but not overpowering. The hazelnut was not as good on its own, but the two paired together was just perfect. The pistachio flavor also wasn’t as good as the sweet milk – it didn’t taste very strongly of pistachio – but still delicious.
Overall, we really enjoyed ourselves at Eataly. I really wished that I could have bought more stuff to bring home with me – all those fresh pastas, sauces, and oils were just so enticing! I’d definitely recommend anyone visiting Chicago (or NYC, for that matter) to stop by and check out Eataly – it’s a fun and eye-opening experience for sure.
43 East Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611