milan: eataly smeraldo opening

© eataly smeraldo

in italy everything is a first class spectacle, whether it's the scenery, fashion, food...and even politics. but let's not go there, and instead talk about one of our major indulgences, italian cuisine. eataly is a food and beverage company that has made waves both in the homeland - we know of few others so fussy and yet so knowledgeable about food than the italians - and various places across the planet with a range of coveted delicacies. only founded in a little over a decade ago in turin, the growing eataly network of super delis and restaurants extends across italy and to far flung places such as new york, dubai and tokyo, while there are plans for further expansion to los angeles, são paulo and moscow, to name but a few prestigious new cities.

indeed, business is booming just about anywhere on the planet, but it's on home turf where eataly has just opened its most impressive retail showcase to date: eataly smeraldo. located at teatro smeraldo, a historic theatre built in 1939-1940 by italian architect alessandro rimini. the building has hosted performances and gigs by the likes of josephine baker, bob dylan and pretty much all of italy's star minstrels, and it served its original purpose until it closed in 2012 and was purchased by the eataly chain. the food experts have wisely retained much of the building's configuration. although it's first and foremost a store, it's one with a semi-circular stage which overlooks the food market below, and enabling emerging young artists to step into the limelight.

eataly smeraldo is not only a gourmet heaven, but also has equally impressive statistics. the store measures a whopping 5,000 sqm. [53,820 sq.ft.] spread over four floors, and features a staggering 10,000 products. each floor is home to different a variety product lines in different sections, from pastas and cheeses, to vegetables and fish, you name it. related to the offerings are a string of eateries, there are no less than 19 of them, each obviously serving a different kind of delicacy from the vast realm of italian cuisine. la pasticceria by luca montersino is inspired by the master's prestigious golosi di salute bakery, featuring a wide range of quality bread. sweet tooths can indulge in two artisanal chocolate spreads at the counter of il cioccolato venchi, while those in need of a cafeine boost are readily served at caffè vergnano' s corner.

if you'd like to savour something more substantial, why not have a pizza? these are freshly prepared from the highest quality flour and served in the neapolitan tradition with a high and tender crust. and speaking of fresh ingredients, there's a section that's aptly called the market that features almost any imaginable produce. and we haven't begun to discuss the many, many wonderful wines, cheeses, olive oils and other delicacies that have been brought from various regions italy. the list of shop sections seems endless but a special mention should go to alice, the store's gourmet restaurant on the second floor. it's run by highly acclaimed chef viviana varese and business partner sandra ciciriello, who also happens to be a skillful sommelier.

the duo initially established the restaurant elsewhere in town but have relocated to the new eataly smeraldo location where it overlooks the square in front of the building. ciciriello receives guests and chooses and suggests the right combinations of food - both italian and international dishes - and wines. the heart of the restaurant is the kitchen, custom-built by molteni and which is in full view from the room. the setting is one of elegant simplicity, featuring a range of furnishings crafted from both natural and retrieved materials. the tables have been designed by renzo and matteo piano but manufactured by riva 1920 and are paired by eero saarinen's tulip chairs by knoll. the light fixtures by iguzzini add to the contemporary vibe, as does the so-called social table which seats 12 guests and comes with a surprise menu. 

eataly smeraldo is about the enjoyment of food, but of course that can only happen with proper preparation. it shouldn't come as a surprise there's also a proper library on the premises. it's a collab new with - there's another one at the eataly store in bologna - and stocks a wide selection of books on food and cooking, while there's also a cozy seating area with italian and international newspapers and magazines. and if you'd like to beef up your cooking skills or knowledge of italian cuisine and its ingredients, eataly smeraldo hosts lessons and courses in one of two special classrooms. interestingly, these classes are free for kids. bigger gatherings up to 170 people can be accommodated at the congress centre on the third floor. location: piazza xxv aprile 10 [garibaldi].

© eataly smeraldo