Oscar Farinetti opened the very first Eataly store in Turin (Italy) in 2007. Today this ‘mega-store’ has a presence across 6 different countries, and their extensive range of Italian produce can also be bought and delivered worldwide on their online store.
Eataly is an Italian restaurant, but most of the restaurant’s expansive space is taken up by Eataly’s ‘mega-store’. The brand sells everything you could possibly need to whip up an authentic Italian meal!
I am a regular at their Dubai Mall branch. I find it to be the perfect spot for a mug of Italian mocha and a fancy sweet treat. Last week, I got invited to Eataly’s newest branch at Dubai Festival City. Till then, I thought Eataly was a cafe-cum-Italian food store. I now know they have a full fledged menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner 🙂
The Eataly store at Festival City mall is located on the first floor, and has very scenic waterfront views from the patio. Given we are in the last lap of beautifully breezy Dubai weather, we decided to dine alfresco.
Unlike the Dubai Mall store, the 3 week old Eataly at Festival City starts off with a walk into the store section. Eataly stocks an endless list of well-loved Italian food brands, and ofcourse the most loved of all has to have an altar of its own. I’m talking about Nutella ofcourse!
At the Festival City branch, the Nutella counter takes up a corner on the left. In Dubai Mall, it takes up almost half of the entrance, and I know of many people who even refer to it as the ‘Nutella Store’!
The interiors of Eataly is wide, white and spacious. It looks every inch the European high-end deli store you would walk in to for that special cheese a gourmet recipe has called for.
The shelves are lined with beautifully packed Italian produce. I was here for dinner on this particular night, but plan to return to this encyclopedia of Italian fine ingredients. It looks like a pretty, well-stocked gift store you can dwindle away hours at just reading all the fancy labels.
“Eataly is more than a store; its a lifestyle. Just as an Italian starts his or her day by visiting a bar for an espresso and a quick glance at a newspaper, visits a fruittivendolo and macellaio later in the day to buy food for lunch or dinner, and stops at a gelateria for a cone or a cup of something sweet, you can visit the various areas in Eataly throughout the day for different reasons” – Adam & Alex Saper in ‘How to Eataly – A Guide to Buying, Cooking and Eating Italian Food’.
Given it was a weekend, the place was packed! We were extremely fortunate to have scored a table on the patio. Below us, the Festival City waterfront was lit up like a carnival and a giant screen was playing the Smurfs movie. My little daughter could watch it from above! No need for her iPad tonight 🙂
We started off our meal at Eataly dipping the complimentary slices of rustic bread in pesto. The bread slices are served in brown paper packages, a lovely European market-style touch!
For starters, we tried Eataly’s Pomodoro E Mozarella, a fresh Italian salad featuring a toss of greens in a delectable pesto and olive oil dressing, and topped with slices of tomato and fresh, creamy Italian mozarella. This proved to be delicious start to our Eataly experience.
On our table, I read about Eataly’s award-winning Margherita Pizza. It won Eatlay the ‘UAE Best Pizza 2014-2015’ award. The pizzas at Eataly are made with Mulino Marino Italian flour, and baked in a traditional oven. Ofcourse I had to order one!
Hubby insisted they add mushrooms on the Margharita, and the staff willingly obliged.
Eataly’s Margharita Pizza topped with a generous amount of stretchy, melted margharita cheese, and is a must-try for pizza lovers.
I spiced up my slice with Italian ground chili flakes 🙂
For drinks, we sipped on fresh Lemon & Mint. The breezy evening and the sweetened lemon made for a lovely, laid-back evening on the terrace. It also helped us get through the rather long delay between appetizers and mains.
The weekend rush seems to be all to daunting for our server. He was a one-man show for the entire row of tables on the terrace.
Hubby ordered Eatlay’s Cotoletta Alla Milanese, a generously large serving of pan-fried breaded veal topped with Parmesan shavings, fresh greens and tomato. It comes with a side dish of your choice, and Hubby went for roasted sweet potatoes.
The veal was a little too over-cooked for his liking. In the madness of the weekend rush, our server forgot to ask him how he likes his meat done. A few squeezes of the accompanying lemon wedge brought it to life.
My main-course was Eataly’s Mushroom Risotto, and I cannot fault this dish in any way. Every spoonful was an absolute delight to the palate. The rice was cooked a perfect al-dente, and the risotto had just the right amount of creamy mushroom-infused goodness to make me crave for more!
When dining at Eataly, you really cannot afford to skim on desserts. They have a wide range of very artsy looking pastries, and we chose to share a Crostatino Frutti Di Bosco E Pistacchio.
This is pretty little tart has a decadently rich, creamy filling and is topped with glazed berries. The tart case is encrusted with pistachio slivers, and the green nuts make the overall tart very pretty indeed.
I am a huge fan of affogato, and was super excited to find it on the Eataly menu. Eataly’s L’Affogato allows you to choose from the restaurant’s wide range of gelato flavours. Although the traditional choice for an affogato is vanilla, I went for a scoop of hazelnut and really loved it with the robust deepness of the black Illy coffee.
Overall, Eataly at Dubai Festival City is a great place to sit down for a coffe and decadent dessert (and a few jars of Nutella perhaps!). If you plan to make a proper meal out of your visit, reserve a table at the patio for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Reservations are particularly crucial for the weekends; call 04 2241083 or 04 2697368.
And please do try their Mushroom Risotto and L’Affagato! Will be going back for more real soon 🙂