Spanning three floors and 50,000 square feet, Eataly Toronto is home to four restaurants, three bars, a coffee shop, a brewery and a sprawling supermarket.
During the media preview of Eataly Toronto, I learned that Italy is the most biodiverse country in Europe. I ate everything from a simple-but-spectacular Margherita pizza to nutty Parmigiano to creamy tiramisu. And I came home with a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. In short, I did the three things Eataly was founded on back in 2007: eating, shopping, learning.
Spanning three floors and 50,000 square feet, there’s plenty of all three to be done at Eataly’s newest international location (its 40th worldwide). Located in Toronto’s Manulife Centre, the food marketplace contains three (soon to be four) restaurants, three bars, a cafe and a brewery, as well as a sprawling supermarket selling over 10,000 products. Thanks to its rich biodiversity, Italy has the ability to offer a staggering array of ingredients, flavours and culinary traditions, all of which are on display at Eataly. “We wanted to introduce the span and scale to different parts of the world,” says Eataly CEO Nicola Farinetti. Items for sale include balsamic vinegar from Modena, organic canned tomatoes from Campania and truffles from Alba.
But part of Eataly’s philosophy is also relying on local vendors—from dairy farmers to butchers to cheese-makers—for the freshest ingredients. Eataly carries cheese and milk from vendors such as Ontario’s Sheldon Creek Dairy (the gelato made on-site is made fresh using their milk) and Quebec’s Aux Terroirs as well as meat from farms like PEI Beef in Prince Edward Island and VG Meat from Simcoe, Ontario. The dessert section of Eataly carries tiramisu made from a recipe handed down by the pastry chef’s grandmother, Sicilian cannoli with different fillings, and specialty chocolates from Venchi, an artisanal chocolate house founded in Piemonte in 1878.
A large wood-burning oven takes pride of place in one corner of Eataly. Shipped over from Spain and assembled on-site, the oven produces over 1,000 loaves of bread a day, using a mother yeast from the original Turino location, and stone-ground Italian flour. There are dozens of different types of house-made pasta, made fresh daily, as well as three pizza stations, each offering a different style of traditional Italian pizza: classic wood-fired Neapolitan (from Naples), crunchy Pizza Alla Pala from Rome, and a deep-dish-esque style from Torino called Pizza Alla Padellino.
There’s an impressive cheese and charcuterie section with freshly-sliced cured meats and nearly 600 varieties of cheese. The pièce de résistance? $2,000 wheels of Parmiggiano Reggiano, the “cracking” of which is a sight to behold. There’s also a cooking school where customers can sign up for classes to sample different types of Italian wine, do olive oil tastings, and learn how to make fresh pasta and gnocchi. Grab-and-go offerings from Eataly’s prepared foods section include paninis, salads, roasted meats and more.
Every Eataly location is dedicated to a particular theme: in Rome, it’s beauty; in Milan, music, in Istanbul, history. Here in Toronto, Eataly chose to honour multiculturalism with a dramatic mural of hundreds of portraits of people from around the world, shot by legendary Italian photographer (and Benetton art director) Oliviero Toscani. According to a press release, this “ode to diversity” represents the make-up of Toronto – “a mosaic of ethnicities, ages, sexualities, histories and more.”
Eataly Toronto opens at the Manulife Centre on November 13, 2019.