It’s never too early to give the kids a taste of la dolce vita. Experience the sights, smells, and tastes of Italy by taking a trip to Eataly where the whole family can enjoy the kid-friendly yet sophisticated culinary adventure. The cured anchovy selection alone will transport you to the Amalfi Coast, while the continuous chocolate stream of Bicerin, a Gianduja semi-sweet sipping chocolate that pumps out of a glass-enclosed faucet, will have the kids wondering if Willy Wonka is Italian. Here’s our guide to doing Eataly right.
Fine Dining, with Highchair
How many times do you have to say, “Eat your vegetables!” At Le Verdure, the kiddos will gladly do so when they see how good veggies can be. Also, there’s no other choice. Le Verdure is the sit-down vegetarian restaurant smack in the middle of the marketplace that is our finer dining pick at Eataly with kids. No teeth? No problem. The polenta with maitake mushrooms and local corn is the perfect first gourmet meal for your infant. The gorgeous baked potato cake or ricotta and spinach cannelloni will delight the pickiest eater. If not, the restaurant can help you out and cook some simple pasta instead. Don’t forget to put your name down at the Seating Point near the bakery and request a highchair.
Take It to the Park
If you’d rather keep it casual, put together a basket of takeout for a picnic at Madison Square Park, the gorgeous park across the street. If you want proper tables and chairs, you can sit in the urban street park and soak in the views of the Flatiron Building while noshing on humanely raised roasted chicken and potatoes from the Rosticerria. Or visit the bakery and bring a few slices of focaccia to a park bench and hit the playground afterwards. There’s also fresh-cut fruit and local Ronnybrook Farms yogurt in the dairy aisle amongst a host of other delicacies in the market.
Or Take Home…
Pasta! Whether you pick fresh pasta made on-site or a dried variety from the Gagnano region of Italy (considered the capital of pasta production), you really can’t go wrong. We especially love the stuffed raviolis – finger-friendly agnoletti that toddlers can easily enjoy in a bite or the large pansotti for bigger appetites.
Hit the Sweet Spot
There’s a separate entrance on Broadway to the Gelateria, a perfect place for an afternoon cone (or caffeine pick-me-up!) after a long day of shopping or scootering. Snag a table by the espresso line, which offers more legroom and lower seating compared to the counters and stools nearby. We love the Italian-sized portions of gelato as well. Small enough to keep the kids’ sugar level down and help you watch your waist all while indulging in some delicious fun.
What to Skip
La Pizza & Pasta, the eponymous restaurant that surely is delicious, but there’s always a long wait any hour you visit. And keep it adults-only at Birreria, the rooftop restaurant and brewery. It’s a better date-night spot instead. Avoid a meltdown and the accompanying glares by sticking to our suggestions above. There is plenty of culinary action to watch and plenty to eat, without major stress.
The Restroom Scene
Boy, do we love the bathroom here. You know you’re a parent when you’re thrilled to see a diaper changing table and large aisles between toilet stalls for easy herding and stroller parking. Plenty of space here to take care of business.
When to Go
On the weekends go first thing when it opens. Check Eataly’s website to see which stalls open when as they can differ. It’s an international culinary institution so gets pretty crowded with locals and tourists on the weekend. During the week, try an afternoon snack or early dinner. It’s a popular lunch spot and commuters will shop after work on their way home.
What’s your favorite kid-friendly treat at Eataly? Let us know!
— Sarah K. Choi