I am crazy about talented people. I adore passionate, talented people. I dislike arrogant people, though they may be talented and passionate. The other day, I was wandering though Eataly, a new 50,000-square-foot Italian food emporium in Manhattan, when I saw a tourist ask an employee if he’d take a picture of her and one of the owners, who happens to be celebrity chef, Mario Batali. “The employees are not allowed to touch cameras,” snapped Batali. That may be true, Mario, but the least you could have done was ask someone other than an employee to take a picture of you and the tourist.
I would have offered, but Mario was not interested in a photo. He’s only interested in photos when they’re for newspapers, magazines and TV shows and he’s getting publicity.
I’ve eaten in Batali’s restaurants and they’re pretty good, even if overpriced. I’ve even had lunch with him since I once published a magazine called Bene Italian Life & Style and my partner was a friend of Mario’s. (He wouldn’t have recognized me 12 minutes after the lunch.) Mario is a lot more impressed with his success than I am. I’d be a lot more impressed if he was charming to the regular people who he wants to buy his pasta, puttanesca, pizza and pesto. I’m FOF and nice impresses me more than fame and fortune.
By the way, David and I spent about $200 in the store and here is my little review: The roast chicken, which was cooked on a spit in a gigantic, glass-front, vertical roaster, was not juicy or tasty. We threw out half of it.
The Italian green tea in a bottle was awful. The brand is Achillea and it was sickly sweet (the ingredients include CONCENTRATED apple juice). Motts tastes better.
The chocolate hazelnut sauce was ok. The hazelnut taste overpowered the chocolate. Brand is Venchi.
Angus beef hamburgers were passing. We also bought a strip steak and a raw chicken. Haven’t cooked them yet.
Eataly has about 12 restaurants, as well as individual bars or stands for espresso, wine, pasta, panna cotta, gelato, bread, panini, hams. It reminds me of a monstrous airport food court, but with classier signage and presentations. I have a hard time believing the place is going to survive. It’s one big gimmick. One gigantic tourist trap.