The Eataly L.A. adventure starts when you pull into Westfield Century City from Avenue of the Stars thinking, "I’ve never pulled into Westfield Century City from Avenue of the Stars." And you won’t be wrong: This entrance is attached to a new section of parking garage designed specifically for Eataly customers. You’re thankful for it. You’re also disoriented and lost, but your first Eataly L.A. experience awaits, and you’re twitching to get a taste because you’ve never seen anything like this in Los Angeles. You’ve been waiting more than three years since its announcement; even longer if you're a food follower or have heard the names Farinetti or Bastianich before. You might even be out of your mind, because you know it’s Joan’s on Third on crack, drowned in extra virgin olive oil and beaten in the chest back to life — by Mario Batali — into a 67,000-square-foot Italian Frankenstein. And you’ll want to be best friends with this monster.
You’re in West L.A. where ownership doesn’t want a riot, so valet parking is available, but if you want to save a buck you can do it yourself for a free hour. No matter how you decide to proceed, you’re there, in a sparkling new parking garage smelling of fresh paint, and you make your way upstairs and it’s La Dolce Vita time. You’re ready to live out every Italian movie food scene dream. If a jail existed on site, you’d break inside just to slice garlic with a razor blade like a goodfella. You’re more than ready for this.
You'll probably enter Eataly via the second level of the mall. There’s a spiral staircase next to the Caffe Lavazza area, where you can sip a heavy cream– and chocolate-laced bicerin. Right in front of you is the Il Gelato section, which features gelato made every day, and Cannoli e Bomboloni, where pastries are filled with a variety of creams, ricotta and jams the minute you order them. Overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard is La Scuola, a cooking classroom where the motto “The more you know, the more you enjoy” will be lived. But the bulk of the action is upstairs, so it’s a trek on the spiral staircase (there are escalators and elevators, too) to the marketplace, where you’ll spend most your time at Eataly L.A. You’ll shop for endless cheeses and pick out sustainably sourced fish, brought to you by Providence and Connie & Ted’s own Michael Cimarusti. You’ll choose the perfect Piemontese porterhouse to grill and slice or veal chop to bread and fry once you’re home. You’ll purchase a loaf of moments-out-of-a-wood-burning-oven ciabatta and a bottle of 12-year aged balsamic from Reggio-Emilia because it’s worth it; there’s plenty of Californian wine to pair with it all because this Eataly is the only Eataly in the world selling West Coast vino. As you exit to pay, you inquire about making a reservation at rooftop restaurant Terra for an upcoming dinner, and you’re told to hang tight, it’s not open yet. You’re also told many of Eataly’s partners’ favorite L.A. Italian restaurant (besides the Mozzas, of course) is Angelini Osteria, and now you’re confident that when Terra does open you can expect something as transporting as our city’s temple of lasagna verde.
You’ve done it all, taken in every salami sight and pour-your-own-olive-oil vision, and you’d stay all night if you could, sleeping on a water mozzarella bed, but life must go on. You’ll be back when you need the very freshest Santa Barbara spot prawns or dried strozzapreti to impress your next dinner guests or Lurisia’s Chinotto soda to introduce to the kids or a bottle of anchovy-based colatura for when you're ready to take your cooking to the next level. On the way out, men in suits on a lunch break from a nearby agency or law firm pass by and you can’t help but stop and watch as their eyeballs bulge while being handed a Jason Neroni and Neal Fraser salad of burrata, pistachios, vinegar and oil-dressed yellow grape tomatoes. Across from the salad bar, which will feature a revolving door of local star chefs, the men in suits are handed prosciutto, soft white cheese and sliced-eggplant-filled made-to-order unleavened bread sandwiches called panigacci, which can be purchased only in Tuscany and a Century City mall.
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All around you, 90-second fire-cooked Neapolitan pizza slices are folded over and eaten, linguine and clams are twirled on forks, and green olive–topped Roman-style pizza alla pala is sliced on its wooden paddle. A woman with a tray passes the rotisserie, offering samples of Maldon salt–seasoned beef carpaccio from the butcher across the way, nodding hello to a co-worker who's in charge of the baskets of unshaved black truffles. It’s all so much: 10,000 products for the taking, nine food stalls, four restaurants and two cafes/bars on three floors, all commanded by a battalion of 400-plus employees on call to seat 600 diners and answer any question or fulfill any culinary whim. It’s finally here.
Eataly LA will open to the public Friday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. The first 100 customers will receive free mozzarella.
Westfield Century City: 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City; (213) 310-8000, eataly.com.