Last night I took my Italian teacher, Lorena Bignamini (Program Director of Fondazione Italia in Los Angeles) to the 5th Anniversary Festa at Eataly in Los Angeles. It was risky to bring an Italian to a place that claims to be like a visit to Italy. I had a feeling that if any place in Los Angeles could live up to the hype, it would be Eataly.
What a winning event. The vibe was casual-chic, live music pumping and easy to move around to every delicious station. Lorena chatted in fast Italian to the chefs, praising Alberto for the Ravioli con Zucca while I balanced my glass of Verdicchio carefully enough to slurp another chilled and salty oyster from La Pescheria.
Along the way, we tasted fresh Mozzarella and Stracciatella with pomegranate, handmade agnolotti and a risotto with Nebbiolo warmed inside a giant Parmigiano wheel.
The wines being poured were from the best areas of Italy: Le Marche, Toscana and Piedmonte.
Eataly in Los Angeles is celebrating five years of being the closest thing to shopping in Italy. I’ve been to the Eataly in New York, Chicago, Bologna and even in France and their consistency is remarkable.
There were a couple of observations Lorena and I spoke about while gobbling down a small plate of four different pastries: how each station lived up to the high quality we’ve grown to expect from Eataly. That’s not always the case when a large retail complex throws a party. And, how the whole spirit of the place was generous and welcoming.
I’ve been to events that have a “one ticket for the evening” set-up that made you feel like they were counting the plates, parsing the servings and judging your requests. That was not the case at this bash. Every pour, every dish, every slice was ample without reserve. Every market was happy to have you enjoy yourself. How Italian of them.