We were lucky enough to visit the place where Eataly started – Torino in the North of Italy. Eataly is an Italian market place, born in Torino but now with 32 locations throughout the world (including Milan which was opened last year and is a 5 floor (5000 sqm) store. As a side note rumours are they’re planning on opening a venue in Sydney.
It’s a totally immersive experience that puts supermarkets to shame. Eataly has a range of restaurants, a bakery (in the case of Torino a bread oven as well), retail items (like a supermarket), a cooking school, a wine bar, a fish monger, a butcher and more. In the Milan location there’s even a Michelin-starred restaurant, Alice.
Eataly was started in 2007 in Turin by Oscar Farinetti. Farinetti converted an old Vermouth factory in the south of Turin into what has been described as ‘a whole foods-style supermarket, a high-end food court and a new age learning centre’. So basically unlike anything you’ve seen before.
The Milan and Torino stores have a lot in common with some little local biases. What’s so special is that the concept marries food with cooking/eating. For every food area there is a matching restaurant/cafe concept. For example, in the pasta section of the store there is a pasta bar; in the bakery there is a pizza bar; in the beer section (yes, there is a decent beer section) there is a tasting bar….and it goes on. This integration makes the concept so unique. In fact it gives it theatre, an element of discovery and more reasons to visit than just to shop.
Both stores when we visited were packed. We were at the Torino store on a Sunday afternoon and the Milan store on Saturday night. In fact people were lining up to get into the restaurants in the store in Milan.
This is such an impressive concept, as a customer it doesn’t have any of the feelings of ‘going to a supermarket’ – although it’s just as crowded if not more. It’s magical, and feels like a treat not a chore.