Eataly Los Angeles is finally opening on Nov 3. Here's what you need to know - and eat

“Un chilo di carne!! No, due fette di pizza al taglio!! Sbrigate coi spaghetti ar pomodoro!! Damme a mozzarella!”

It may be a nightmare, so many Italians in one place. But if you love Italian food, Italian culture and Italian manners, this is no nightmare. This is heaven. This is Disneyland for Italian food lovers. If you ever dreamt to be surrounded by people moving at 100miles an hour, yelling, bustling, screaming for food, queuing up for carne cruda (kru-daa), bomboloni, or panigacci (pae-na-gha-cci), dream no more. Eataly Los Angeles is here.

And if you ever desired to find yourself in the middle of an authentic Italian mercato, your senses “warmly” manipulated by the products in display at the pescheria (pae-ske-rea), panetteria (pae-ne-tte-rea), and macelleria (you got it, right?), desire no more. Your ITALIAN EXPERIENCE is here. Crowds & food courts included.

Located in the revamped Century City Westfield mall, the first West Coast location of the Italian food megastore chain is opening on November 3. This is what I saw (and ate) during the press preview of Eataly Los Angeles.

Lidia Bastianich at the opening of Eataly los Angeles

Lidia Bastianich (with Mario Batali in the back), serving ‘bicerin’ at the new Eataly LA

Eataly LA: Connecting Italy and California

“Thank you very much for stay here and sorry for my english…. I know only 100 words…but it is perfect. I know that with 100 english words it is possibile to open 38 Eataly in the world, it is possible for me to talk to you possibile for you to understand me…”

RELATED: Why Eataly NYC is an Italian foodie paradise

These are the words of Oscar Farinetti, a college dropout with a vision, the man, the businessman who conceived the idea of the first Eataly in Turin, and all the others located around the USA and the world. He welcomed the press in the middle of a sun-bathed ceramic square where Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, his partners in this food venture, were preparing for us… the classic bicerin, a traditional hot drink, half expresso & half deep dark chocolate, native of Turin. Talk about a welcoming mat!

Eataly los Angeles Oscar Farinetti

Hanging out with Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti at the new LA store

Immediately afterwards, Farinetti proceeded to draw Italy on a board, listing numbers & figures on grapes, olives, vegetables, agricultural and historical data, all of which he then compared to California. “Italian excellence and California excellence,” he explained. “We cook California excellence with Italian style.”

Indeed, the Italy-California connection is well represented among the aisles, with a strong presence of Kali goods, such as milk, fruits, vegetables and even olive oil, not to mention fish, meats, breads and wines.

“Eataly is not a supermarket, not a restaurant…. but an integration of stores, food courts, markets, teaching room and a place to learn. In Italy, in a store it is possible to buy what you eat… possible to eat what you buy…even possibile to study it all. That is what I want Eataly to be.”

Italian foods at the new Eataly los Angeles

Pizza “al taglio” at Eataly LA

What to Eat and What to Do at Eataly Los Angeles

Soon after, Batali took us to an ice cream stand, where we all enjoyed some gelato fiordilatte, made with organic California milk. Next stop was the Scuola di Cucina, aka Cooking School, a sanctuary commanded by Lidia where she and a bunch of chefs, will teach YOU, LUCKY CUSTOMERS some Italian dishes which you can eat on the spot. Washing them down with Italian and California wines that you can purchase on the spot (this is a first!!). The wine selection is curated by Joe Bastianich himself, also a partner in Eataly USA.

RELATED: 20 Italian wines you should know, region by region

When we went in, Chef Denis dello Stritto—previously at Culina in Beverly Hills—prepared for us some algae-infused fried zeppoline. Honestly, I am a man who eats well and eats pretty much everything, but these little seaweed fried donuts were a new thing for me. Bravo Denis.

Aside from the three floors of provisions (67,000 square feet, which means many, many places to eat, snack, and sip), there will be plenty of spots to grab a meal: 2 cafés, 9 takeaway food counters and 4 restaurants, including a rooftop patio to take advantage of LA’s balmy weather.

Eataly los Angeles stores

‘Macelleria’, i.e. butcher shop, at Eataly LA

After that, it is all a blur to me… I just ate everything in sight. Let me also mention: hand-pulled burrata by Di Stefano Cheese (the first to make burrata here in Kali); carne cruda (raw meat) served Piedmontese-style; many varieties of pizza al taglio, aka crispy, Roman-style pizza squares; the delicious bites of raw fish that you can slurp up at Il Pesce Cucina, a “dock-to-dish” seafood restaurant by Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto.

Talking about Italian classics… You can’t miss the Neapolitan-style pizzas of Rosso Pomodoro, or the regional cheeses and salami. If you want some pasta… you do, trust me, you do, just order at the Pasta Fresca di Gragnano restaurant, sit down and enjoy.

RELATED: An old-school pasta factory in Downtown LA

To finish if off, please wobble, stumble, and teeter to the pasticceria (pea-sticce-rea), the pastry shop / sweets court, where you will find gianduiotti and cremini, small, heavenly, chocolaty bites also from Turin.

Now I will stop writing. I wanna go eat something more… And I forgot to tell you about the products on the shelves… But that is another story, so stay tuned!

Photos by Roberto Croci for Foodiamo. All rights reserved.