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On Friday at 6 p.m., Mario Batali’s Eataly opens its first West Coast outpost in Los Angeles at Westfield’s Century City Mall with restaurants, grab-and-eat snacks and a marketplace of fresh produce, meats, fish and cheeses to cook at home.
The three-story, 60,000 square-foot space features a Lavazza espresso bar where you can enjoy a breakfast Bicerin espresso and chocolate drink and a brioche, La Scuola cooking school and events space where budding chefs can learn how to make seaweed fritters the Italian way, a gelato stand serving up frozen goodness made with Marin County-based Straus Dairy milk and a cheese counter where you can watch Di Stefano mozzarella being hand-stretched.
“Amazon didn’t buy this because we can’t ship it by drone to your house,” quipped Batali, referring to the online retailer’s acquisition of Whole Foods while leading a pre-opening tour of the space. “This has to be experienced to be enjoyed.”
There are four restaurants with sweeping views of the hills, including La Pizza & La Pasta for al dente pasta “lightly dressed” with sauce and Neopolitan-style pizza made by Rossopomodoro-trained chefs; La Piazza, dedicated to Italian street food and sharable plates; the third-floor Terra, opening this winter; and Il Pesce seafood restaurant by Providence chef Michael Cimarusti and partner Donato Poto.
More casual eateries offer Roman-style pizza that’s been cooked in the oven on long boards, salads and sandwiches. In the marketplace, you can buy truffles from Alba, gluten-free pasta to cook at home, locally produced and Italian-produced delicacies.
Eataly was founded in 2007 in Turin by Oscar Farinetti and made its entrance into the U.S. market with Batali as a partner in 2010. Los Angeles is the Italian company’s fifth U.S. location and 39th worldwide. Each outpost has a unique format and theme. L.A.’s theme is water, with an emphasis on conservation that is outlined in a wall graphic near the entrance. “When I think of drought, I think of California being one of the most affected places,” Batali says. “We’re going to take all the water that would be considered non-potable that’s been run through our kitchens and sinks in the bathrooms and treat it and clean it and use it another time, saving 33 percent of water we use every day.”
Each outpost also has unique culinary offerings, of course. Here are 5 only-in-L.A. things to try — and not all of them are diet-blowing.
The L.A. location is the only Eataly where you can try this unique flatbread imported from Tuscan bakery Wow Panigacci di Podenza. Resembling pita bread, only flatter, crispier and laced with olive oil (they are made from flour and salt using clay tiles), it can be a base for sandwich fillings both savory (mortadella, pesto, veggies, cheese) and sweet (Nutella). “It’s here and only here,” says Batali.
2) Olive oil bar
Just like a beer growler station, Eataly L.A.’s extra virgin olive oil bar offers a selection of made-in-Italy (and soon made-in-California) liquid gold that you can pour yourself from copper vats into refillable bottles.
3) Salad bar from Rose Café’s Jason Neroni
“Every time we open in a new city, we want to get as much from the local community as we can. We are rotating different chefs through the salad bar and the first one is Jason Neroni from Rose Café,” Batali says of the counter featuring local seasonal ingredients including persimmons, golden beets, pistachios and burrata that can be mixed into the salad of your dreams.
4) California wines
For the first time, Eataly is stocking California-made varietals alongside Italian wines (more than 1,200 labels in total). If you want, you can buy a bottle in the shop and drink it at any of the restaurants on site for a small corkage fee.
5) Gluten-Free Sweet Laurel treats
“You can come in here and be dairy-free, wheat-free, vegan, we can accommodate every single diet there is,” says Batali. To wit, the retail store features more than 2,000 products, 20 percent of them locally made, and several of them gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and more to cater to Angeleno’s unique dietary tastes, including Sweet Laurel Bakery’s divine organic, gluten-free and Paleo chocolate caramel cake made in L.A.
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