A new culinary destination is coming to NorthPark Center, boasting three restaurants, virtual cooking classes, online shopping and shipping, and 10,000 Italian and local products, imported from Italy, made in-house, and sourced from local producers.

Eataly, a 46,000-square-foot ode to fine Italian food, opens at noon on Dec. 9 at NorthPark Center in Dallas.

Foodies have been anticipating Eataly for a long time, and at the end of a strange, often dark year, it’s a bright spot. But in these days of COVID-19, shopping in person carries extra risk. Here’s our rundown of what Eataly can offer Collin County shoppers, and more importantly, what it can’t.

Courtesy of Eataly Dallas’ Facebook

The Market

Eataly isn’t the first Italian market to hit Dallas by any means. Dallas boasts a peppering of local markets and purveyors. Most notably, Jimmy’s Food Store is an Old East Dallas institution. It’s part market, with high shelves absolutely packed with prepared foods, wines, sausages, baked goods, imported cheeses and pasta, and part-deli with possibly the best, definitely the biggest muffuletta sandwich in the metroplex. Plus Dallas isn’t hurting for exceptional Italian restaurants. 

However, Eataly brings a new level of sophistication and global renown, with locations in the New York Flatiron, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seoul, Moscow, and Istanbul, not to mention all over Italy itself.  Eataly’s new Dallas location in North Park Center is also closer to Collin County than the aforementioned Jimmy’s Food Store, and easily accessible courtesy of Highway 75. 

“Our resilience to open the Dallas location during the COVID-19 pandemic leaves us with strict safety measures to ensure the safety of our guests without compromising the Eataly experience,” Eataly CEO Nicola Farinetti said in a press release. “With more than 500 different salumi and formaggi and over 1,200 different bottles of Italian wines, we promise guests a large selection of products regardless of when they decide to visit.”

Courtesy of Eataly Dallas’ Facebook

Online Shopping

Eataly is likely to be extremely busy on the first few days and they can only let a certain amount of people in.  Still, ordering online is an option.

Is your pantry dry? Are you bulk-ordering nonperishables? If so, shopping online is probably worth it. If you spend $100 on olive oil, pasta, canned tomatoes, Illy coffee, jars of olives and artichokes and jams—things that ship with ease—you can score free shipping on your whole order. 

But there is a catch. If you sneak one simple perishable item like cheese, salumi, then shipping is automatically riskier, and thus no longer free. It’s likely to run you at least $30 extra. If you require $100 worth of olive oil, dried pasta, and pre-made pesto, then full steam ahead: go ahead and enjoy the best Italy has to offer. 

For prosciutto, mascarpone, and butcher cuts of veal, check your own wallets and do your own math. As for me, I’ll wait on the joys of a full Italian cheese board until I feel safe shopping in person. There’s always the Kroger deli. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s fine.

Courtesy of Eataly Dallas’ Facebook

Eataly Dallas Restaurants

Eating at a restaurant is a big part of the Eataly experience; the idea is that if you enjoy your meal, you can buy the ingredients onsite. Eataly Dallas offers three restaurants. 

La Pizza & La Pasta specializes in authentic Neapolitan pizza and high-quality pasta from Gragnano, Campania. Il Pastaio features housemade regional pasta dishes prepared fresh daily by their pastai, or pasta makers. Terra, on the third floor rooftop, is a wood-burning grill rooftop restaurant inspired by “earth and fire.” 

Reservations are available to ensure crowd control and safety. Restaurants will also include table dividers, spaced-out tables, fully sanitized tables and utensils between seatings, and guest capacity limits to reduce crowds.

They’ve also got a takeaway counter for the first time ever. For a quick lunch, they’ll serve focaccia and freshly baked goods, pizza by the slice, hot and cold take-away meals, pastries, gelato, and a café for afternoon coffee breaks. 

Courtesy of Eataly Dallas’ Facebook

Virtual Cooking Class

Eataly not only offers all the products one needs to produce an authentic Italian meal; they also offer the know how. Eataly’s La Scuola offers cooking classes, and wine tastings. For the first time, these exclusive events will be held virtually so that anyone can enjoy them from the comfort and safety of their own kitchens. 

These classes are the final piece of the Eataly culture and creed: eat, shop, and learn. Their talented chefs walk people through their staple recipes, like fresh pasta cooking, or pairing and tasting fine Italian wines and cheeses. Sign up for a class, and receive a kit with all the ingredients you’ll need. Then all you need to do is tune in, follow along, and create a new show-stopping meal. 

Courtesy of Eataly Dallas’ Facebook

Local Alternatives

As far as Italian markets go, there’s not much in Collin County. Simply put, Eataly is our closest Italian market. 

However, we do have a small selection of other local grocers and purveyors. CCCP Market in Plano offers Eastern European goods. Plano and Frisco both boast a variety of Asian markets. There’s plentiful Mediterrean and Middle Eastern shopping, and a closeby Kosher market, with Richardson’s Milk and Honey.

Overall, the Eataly spread will include over 500 Italian and domestic salumi and formaggi (cured meats and cheeses). They’ll have 1,200 wines and liquors from all 20 regions in Italy, fresh pasta, mozzarella, and bread all made in-house daily, and over 100 bottles of olive oil. 

But safety is the most important consideration and it’s  bound to be crowded. Good news is, Eataly’s is open every day. There’s no rush.

915 NorthPark Center, Dallas | eataly.com/us_en

Alexandra Cronin

Alexandra Cronin is Local Profile's senior editor. She has been with the company since 2016. She loves great coffee, good food, and average wine.