Eataly’s Italian market destination heads to San Jose

For those who dream of tasting freshly made pasta from the small hill town of Gragnano outside of Naples, Italy, or crave the experience of shopping at an Old World-style market selling the finest Italian-made bread, cheese and wine — save your appetite .

Eataly, a global chain of multi-story marketplaces that feature everything from restaurants and cheese counters to cooking schools and wine-tasting classes, is coming to Silicon Valley’s Westfield Valley Fair mall.

Its Northern California debut establishes Eataly as a 45,000-square-foot food destination inside the mall where customers can pick up dinnertime groceries while sipping a glass of wine, but also as a place that highlights local producers, according to Adam Saper, business partner at Eataly USA.

At Eataly's Westfield Valley Fair mall store, customers will be able to take home freshly made pasta.

At Eataly’s Westfield Valley Fair mall store, customers will be able to take home freshly made pasta.

Photo courtesy of Manbir Sehmi

“Eataly is really an amazing experience for the senses and a place to explore high-quality Italian food. Essentially, we are celebrating Italian culture, but we are not just importing everything. We are importing, oftentimes, Italian savoir faire or know-how and using local ingredients,” Saper told SFGATE. “We’re making gelato with local milk and we’re making fresh pasta. It’ll be the best place to shop in the Bay Area if you’re cooking at home and you want salumi or cheese, both Italian and local.”

While Eataly’s opening date is still uncertain at this time, Saper said he’s hopeful the immersive food hall will welcome guests within the next three months. Once finished, Eataly will house a quick-service cafe on its first floor with Roman-style pizza by the square slice and Italian desserts such as gelato and tiramisu. The second floor will be dedicated to education, whether that’s pairing a wine maker from Italy with a California namesake so the two can compare notes or classes on cheese and pasta making.

Eataly’s third-floor space will be its largest and is slated to include two restaurants, a full-on marketplace with a high-quality butcher and cheese counter, as well as aisles with Italian imports and locally sourced pantry staples. Saber said parking will also be available on Eataly’s third level, making it an accessible grocery stop for customers looking to pick up a quick bottle of wine or fresh-baked loaf for dinner.

Fresh soft shell crab, lobster tail and other seafood on display at an Eataly fish counter.

Fresh soft shell crab, lobster tail and other seafood on display at an Eataly fish counter.

Photo courtesy of Eataly USA

“It’s really the theater of food production. You’re seeing the fresh pasta made in front of you. You’re seeing the bread made in front of you. You’re seeing the salumi sliced ​​by hand. You’re seeing tastings. You’re seeing the pizza made. We find people and train them to make the recipes in a traditional style and an Italian style that we’re bringing over, so we were really training artisans on site.”

The Valley Fair mall location marks Eataly’s ninth store in North America and its 41st in the world. Saper and his brother Alex were integral in bringing Eataly to New York in 2010 and have watched the high-end food hall expand throughout the country ever since. Saper said he was enamored by his experience of him at Eataly’s flagship store in Torino, Italy, where he enjoyed eating his way through the markets, tasting the freshest cheese and getting to know the local culture through its food. Now, Eataly is slated to hire 300 positions from dishwasher to chef, cheesemonger to cash register operator, to create that same experience in the Bay Area.

A piping hot pizza comes right out of the wood-fired oven at Eataly.

A piping hot pizza comes right out of the wood-fired oven at Eataly.

Photo courtesy of Eataly USA

“The thing that struck me about Italy is there is a love and a pleasure that’s taken from great food. Everything with food tastes better with a story — and I don’t mean a made-up story. But when you know the story of where your products are produced, where they come from, things taste better,” he said. “Food is filled with stories, and some of the stories are the best when they come from small producers. Those stories translate to great taste.”

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