Last week, as I walked from dinner at in the East Village to Penn Station (it was a VERY heavy dinner), I took a right onto Fifth Avenue at Union Square. It was sub-zero but I was determined to make it to my NJ Transit train without hypothermia. On the way, I passed a huge Eataly sign. At first, I thought I was hallucinating a walk through equally freezing Torino. But I was actually at Madison Square Park where, at 500 Fifth Avenue, the B&B Hospitality Group (that’s Batali & Bastianich) will expand their ridiculously huge Italian food and wine empire to include Eataly. The high end food salon is slated to open in Summer 2010. Now, I love me some Lidia, but I’m am predicting that Eataly will be the Italian Wine Merchants of food. That means a very well marketed, but overpriced and monopolistic business in town. I am more nostalgic than ever for the small Italian corner deli.

Update: Some links to Eataly news

Eataly Meets Fifth Avenue – Wine Enthusiast

Mario Batali Explains What Eataly is Exactly – Village Voice

First Look at Mario Batali’s Monster Italian Marketplace – WSJ

Batali Unveils Italian-Food Hub – WSJ

Party at Batali Superstore Draws Hagar, Hordes – Observer

Slideshow of Eataly Space – NY Eater

Italian ‘Culinary Mecca’ Comes To Flatiron District – CBS

Welcome to Eataly – NY Post