The latest Eataly in Milan is housed in the former Smeraldo Theatre, which gives the four-floor store a different quality.
It’s seven years since Oscar Farinetti, the founder of Italian electricals chain UniEuro, which was subsequently sold to Dixons, opened the first Eataly, the Slow Food movement-backed temple of Italian gastronomy.
That was in Turin and since then Eatalys have opened in Dubai, the US, Turkey and Japan. But last week attention was focused on the food specialist’s backyard, when it opened a 54,000 sq ft, four-floor store in Milan.
Located in the former Smeraldo Theatre, this outsize deli has all the hallmarks that visitors to the 25 other Eatalys have become accustomed to - market-style presentation, pasta aisles, bakeries, fresh produce counters and 19 eateries, among other things. The casual or formal dining areas are scattered around the store and gourmet restaurant Alice is on the second floor.
The store actually trades from three floors, with the top floor being used as a 150-seat ‘congress’ space. On the ground floor it’s pasta, bread, sweets and books on Italian cookery. The first floor is home to vegetables, cheeses, a mozzarella ‘show’ and fresh pasta, while on the second floor it’s wine, water, beer and fresh meat and fish.
The real point about what has been done with what was Milan’s largest theatre is that the retailer has been responsive to the architecture that was there in the first place. What greets the shopper or the diner is a vast auditorium. The approach and interior style are recognisably Eataly but, like every other branch, this interior is different.
And plans are in place for a London Eataly at some point in the next couple of years, although details remain hazy. The combination of deli and dining should prove a winning one when it does make it to these shores.