Eataly Downtown is an American take on an Italian food hall. Gone are the stucco walls, thick wooden beams, and big bins of olives, instead this location of Eataly is located in a mall and has all the warmth and allure of a giant food court. It’s a chaotic, often loud, tourist-filled space pockmarked with various stalls or displays–produce, cheese station, bread station, pastries, etc.–interspersed with restaurants and more casual eating options. We have recorded higher decibel readings before, but Eataly Downtown is uncomfortable in its own special way–not solely due to noise level–though it was loud in spots–but mostly due to the crowds.
It’s clear that Eataly would best be enjoyed during an off time (though we doubt that one exists) or if one is comfortably numb. If you are the type who likes to keep an emergency Xanas in your bag, take it and wait a half hour before entering. It may make things better.
We did a complete circuit of the space twice–yes, we forced ourselves round more than once just for you. The main restaurants, which are located closer to the entrance, are live, loud, and packed. Eataly is co-owned by Mario Batali, who, it is rumored, is responsible for the unforgivably loud music in New York City restaurants. Click the link in the previous sentence to find out why. Even if we didn’t mind having our ear drums assaulted, that was not an option as just about every seat was taken in the restaurant dining spaces. Pressing on, we saw a better option.
I Ravioli is a stall offering three types of ravioli and the promise of a quieter meal. There is no dedicated seating space. Rather, there are two seating areas located within a short distance. Avoid the seating immediately nearby and walk about 25 feet away to a dining area a near the display of packaged cookies. You will still hear the unnecessary music there, but the volume is much lower.
As for the ravioli (we opted for ravioli made with peas in a butter and pecorino sauce), they were tasty. And the seating area we chose was fine. In fact, this relatively calm spot could have approached comfortable if the music was turned off, but that won’t happen. So recharge in this relatively relaxing chunk of the space, and gird yourself for the run to the exit. The rest of Eataly is filled with slow-moving people, too much noise, and lots of lights and shiny things. We were suffering sensory overload by the time we left.
Although we haven’t taken a decibel reading at the original Eataly location in the Flatiron district, we think Eataly Downtown matches it with regard to noise and crowd level. There is no question that the Eataly sites have almost anything you would want for your Italian pantry, but at a price. Yes, there are few bargains at Eataly and fighting your way through the crowds is a chore. Still, the selection is pretty damn good and the food is well done. So if you must go, know what to expect and be prepared for the crowds and noise.
We suggest that you proceed with caution with either Eataly space. Aim for a less crowded time–perhaps at 7:00 a.m.?–and look for a quiet niche somewhere in the sea of people.
7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day
4 World Trade Tower, 3rd Floor (101 Liberty Street at Church Street), New York, NY 10007