What Is Eataly?

I love eating, I love Italy, and I love eating Italian food. So of course I love the Italian food wonderland known as Eataly! For those of you that have never heard of the store, no that’s not “Italy” spelled wrong. Eataly is a portmanteau of eat and Italy. But what is Eataly? Who owns Eataly? Is Eataly a restaurant? Mamma mia, you ask a lot of questions! 

What is Eataly?

Eataly is a chain of Italian marketplaces that include retail shopping, bakeries, food and drink stations, classrooms, and restaurants. It’s almost like an Ikea with Italian food instead of hard-to-put-together furniture. Eataly was an early entrant into the fancy foodhall trend that’s been sweeping global culinary culture for the last several years. You could take a trip to Eataly and buy a cookbook and pasta sauce, grab a coffee and fresh-baked bread, pick up a sandwich for later, take a cooking class, then have a nice dinner. So is Eataly a restaurant? No. How are you still not getting this? Eataly is a large marketplace that usually has several restaurants in it. Sounds cool, right? Where did this place come from? I’m glad you asked!

Who started Eataly?

Eataly is the brainchild of Italian entrepreneur, Oscar Farinetti. According to him, Eataly stands for “Eating Italian.” His first idea for a name was Eat Italy. I’m glad he changed it. Eataly sounds a lot better and if Godzilla ever rose up from the depths of the ocean and heard the phrase, “Eat Italy” he just might do it. You never know with that guy. 

Where did Eataly start?

Farinetti sketched out his idea for an Italian haven that was a simple place to eat, shop, and learn back in 2002. Eataly officially started in Torino, Italy in 2007. That first Eataly, Eataly Torino Lingotto, opened in a once-abandoned Carpano Vermouth factory. 

How many Eataly locations are there in the U.S.?

Today there are over 45 Eataly locations in the world, with locations throughout the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. There are eight locations in the U.S. Eataly can be found in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, and Silicon Valley, with two locations in New York City. 

Who owns Eataly nowadays?

These days, the Italian superstore Eataly is owned by the U.K.-based investment firm Investindustrial VII LP. They became the company’s majority shareholder when they purchased 52% of the company in 2022 for 200 million Euros, or about $198 million. At one point celebrity/canceled chef Mario Batalli was a minority owner in the company. But after sexual misconduct allegations against Batalli surfaced in 2017, he left Eataly altogether and his products were pulled from its shelves.

What’s the coolest Eataly location?

Eataly has an Italian food theme park in Bologna, at FICO World Eataly. While “fico” actually translates to “cool,” it is actually pretty rad. The place offers a peek into behind-the-scenes creation of Italian food and drink. While there aren’t any pasta-themed roller coasters, there are farm-themed rides at Luna Farm, which is connected to FICO World Eataly. So, be sure to pace yourself on all the spaghetti eating before you hop on the flying pig ride. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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