At 63,000 square feet, it’s safe to say that Eataly Chicago contains worlds within its walls. Open since 2013, it’s home to a market, a cooking school, an expertly-stocked wine shop, and no less than 23 dining options (including a much-buzzed-about Nutella bar). To say that visitors are spoiled for choice is an understatement — but for those who find its near-endless possibilities overwhelming, knowing where to start can be a conundrum. For guidance, we’ve asked General Manager Jason Goldsmith for five Eataly musts, from chocolate to cheese and everything in between.
- For the coffee expert: Caffe Vergnano. “Caffe Vergnano on the second floor is a must-taste,” Goldsmith advises. “Vergnano is a small, family-run coffee roaster from Piemonte, and their beans are richly flavored and beautifully made. Vergnano quality is second-to-none — from the ingredients they use to the care of those who produce their inventory. And as of today, we are fortunate to be one of only two locations in the U.S. serving this spectacular coffee. Plus, we pull our Vergnano espresso from an absolutely beautiful, Italian-made Elektra ‘Belle Epoque’ coffee maker.”
- For picnickers: Formaggi e Salumi. “On the second floor in La Piazza, you’ll find the most extensive collection of cheese in the city of Chicago, hands down. Our Formaggi e Salumi counter is home to over 500 different types of cheeses throughout the year. Additionally, we house over 200 varieties of salumi brought in from the finest domestic producers, and of course, our partners in Italy.”
- For the sweet tooth: Venchi Chocolate. “No visit to Eataly is complete without something sweet,” Goldsmith continues, “and Venchi Chocolate, located on the first floor, produces my personal favorite — Brutti ma Buoni (“ugly but delicious”) chocolate hazelnut bark in dark, milk, or white options. Venchi has been producing the very highest quality chocolate in Torino since 1878, and I’m so proud to have them as a partner here.”
- For fine diners: Baffo. “Baffo, our ‘elegant yet casual’ fine-dining restaurant, is accessible from the second floor, or from the main entrance at 44 East Grand Avenue,” Goldsmith says. “Visiting Baffo is a treat in and of itself, offering an intimate culinary experience.” It’s also sure to be loved by wine enthusiasts, too: its impressive list spans all 20 Italian regions.
- For those who love to learn: La Scuola. “Lastly, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to take a class in our professionally-staffed cooking school,” Goldsmith says. “Classes vary— and we also offer a unique learning experience for kids called Passaporto di Eataly, where they can explore the store and even try a few things from our various counters.” Learn more at the La Scuola website, and sign up for classes on CourseHorse— which cover pasta, pizza, and much more.