/Some Reasons Rome Doesn't Need An Eataly

Some Reasons Rome Doesn't Need An Eataly

When I posted this post about Eataly’s Rome venture, the reaction in the blog comments and on Twitter was overwhelmingly one of confusion. Bringing Eataly to Rome is like carrying coals to Newcastle, suggested more than a few readers. Indeed, Rome has a tremendous number of small shops that sell food and beverages of the highest quality. Will a giant one-stop-shop run the little guys out of business or will it promote a new food culture city wide? I’m leaning towards the former, and am especially concerned about the wellbeing of shops in Testaccio, a short distance from the yet to be built Eataly compound.

Here are some places in Rome, listed by genre, that stock amazing high quality ingredients and products, each of which is a valid reason against the opening of Eataly, or any such megastore, in Rome.

PASTRIES AND COOKIES Cristalli di Zucchero, Dolci Desideri, Mondi, Il Mondo di Laura, Andreotti, Il Boccione, La Deliziosa, La Dolceroma, and Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti.

CHOCOLATE AND CANDIES Said, La Bottega del Cioccolato, Moriondo e Gariglio, and L’Albero del Cacao.

PRODUCE Mercato Trionfale, Mercato di Testaccio, Roma Farmer’s Market, Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo, La Citta’ dell’Altra Economia, Mercato di Via Magnagrecia, and more than 130 neighborhood markets all over Rome.

GELATO I’ve already bored you to death with the best places to find quality, all natural gelato here, here, and, here, but I’d like to thow Vice into the fold as well.

BAKERIES Marco Roscioli, Pietro Roscioli, Forno Campo de’ Fiori, Panificio Passi, and Forno Pasticceria Colapicchioni.

DELIS/SPECIALTY FOODS Volpetti, Franchi, Emporio del Gusto, Sesto Girone, La Tradizione, Salumeria Roscioli, Il Genovino D’Oro, Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi and DOL.

2016-01-09T14:08:20+00:00 November 3rd, 2010|Categories: Culture, Food & Wine, Gastronomic Traditions, Rome & Lazio, Sweets & Dessert|23 Comments


  1. Nonna November 3, 2010 at 3:02 am - Reply

    I don’t like the idea of big stores coming in and taking business away from family run stores. The personal service is better in the small stores too

  2. Rosemary Olson November 3, 2010 at 4:11 am - Reply

    Do they not learn for our mistakes in America?? No personality, big box stores equals boring, over processed foods. Heard of Costco? It is because of all the wonderful little shops and restaurants specializing in unique specialty foods that so many of us journey to Italy.

  3. Elizabeth November 3, 2010 at 7:50 am - Reply

    Sorry, I don’t agree at all. I don’t think that the small stores you are talking about will in any way be put out of business by Eataly. People who already shop at places like Roscioli, La Tradizione, Volpetti, Innocenti etc. will continue to go there, either because it’s convenient for them or to get one-of-a-kind things you can only get there. From what I saw in Torino, Eataly seems to be a place you go to every so often, to stock up, etc. I think it will succeed in bringing people in who would never in the first place make the effort to visit the stores you list above.
    It’s sort of like saying the farmers market on San Teodoro or the Bio Market in Testaccio hurt the mercati rionale. I believe that any store or market that actually raises the level of quality is a good thing.

  4. nyc/caribbean ragazza November 3, 2010 at 10:15 am - Reply

    Does Torino not have the markets that we do? I liked the Eataly in Bologna. It fit into the area and doesn’t seem to “steal” customers from small shops as they carry a bunch of “international foods”.

    Now that I have found Kettle Chips and that Amalfi lemon soda I love at other stores in Rome, I’m not really jonesing for Eataly. ha

    In all seriousness, I am curious to see what kind of foods they will carry.

  5. Alfonso November 3, 2010 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Ot does seem strange, the idea of Eataly in Italy. Although I did like the one in Torino.

    The chain-development of it though, all over the world, maybe in places where it is hard to find things Italian, but Rome? Even NY?

    Oh well…

  6. BuzzInRome November 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm - Reply

    I went to Torino’s Eataly and I think it is simply a great place both to buy and to dine.
    Its products come from all over Italy (and some also from abroad), therefore it represents a very tempting opportunity to re-discover our local delicacies.
    For tourists it would be ideal, being a one-stop shop to get the best Italian food products but also for Romans, who enjoy a very limited choice of regional restaurants, it is anyway something new and positive!

  7. Kelly November 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    I think it was a good think for NYC. But I don’t really get it in Rome. Anyway, there are small shops in NYC with italian specialty products but there aren’t that many anymore and most of them are quite a hike to get to. I still go to Di Palo on Grand but Eataly has some things that they don’t carry.

  8. Giuseppe di Martino November 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    the small stores in Rome are the ones that make Rome seem Rome, the one in Napoli they are part of the landscape with their baskets on the streets and the voices of the vicoli.
    I always thought that a supermarket is a democratic shop where you can buy whatever you like, at a good price but you had not to expect to get the soul of food, or to look in the eyes the owner and judge by his smile if that ham or cheese that looked orrible would take you to heaven when you had a bite.
    I believe Eataly is a great idea, somehow though, I buy my bread from Francesco, my fish from Regina and Catello, and my meat from Antonio, probably I can afford it , but when Elisa tells me to taste a piece of cheese and She smiles I smile back and 9 out of 10 I like it, She knows me and my children and She gives them an handful of candies that She makes, when they come with me to do the shopping, and if I don’t have cash on me, It’s allright to pay next time, If I am abroad They deliver to my home and my wife calls them with the list.
    I don’t think I’ll need Eataly, and I hope that all the people I buy food from will always stay in business, so that I will not have to push a trolley around alone with my thoughts in a supermarket.

  9. Katie November 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    @nonna I absolutely agree with you. Though and Eataly would create jobs (with what kind of contract, i dont know) it can’t provide the type of service that you get when the owner of a small shop is waiting on you

    @Rosemary Eataly (at least the Italy branches) sell very high quality artisinal products so it won’t be like a costco type deal. granted all shops are profit driven but i prefer to buy my Mancini pasta at Emporio del Gusto or Pastificio dei Campi pasta from Roscioli.

    @Elizabeth i dont think torino and rome food culture are at all similar so it’s hard to know how an eataly will impact rome’s approach to food. there are already plenty of gastrofighetti that keep the pricier shops going but whether eataly will raise the level of food quality city wide or improve buying habits is hard to guess.

    of course the biomarket hasn’t had an impact. that place is poorly advertised and doesn’t really appeal to the average consumer. the roma farmer’s market (also in testaccio) and the campagna amica markets (there are 11 others, held with varying frequency in addition to the one on san teodoro) absolutely have affected the mercati rionali’s saturday business. and for good reason. the farmer’s markets are cheaper (up to 30%) than the neighborhood markets.

    @nyc/caribbean ragazza kettle chips?! where?

    @Alfonso yeah this growing network of eatalys worries me for some reason. the idea of stashing lots of good things under one roof should thrill me but instead i think it takes the romance out of food shopping, which, as you know, is a glorious thing in italy.

    @BuzzInRome i think rome does have its share of regional restaurants, and even ethic dining. it’s just spread out all over town. eataly will concentrate it in one place and, as a jersey girl who loves herself some malls, i recognize the utility of convenience but question the necessity of a one stop food shop in a city with such a rich food culture

  10. Lust for Travel November 4, 2010 at 12:23 am - Reply

    I am always a little saddened by big business moving into the domain of small retailers but hopefully the local population continue to support small businesses. I’m from Melbourne, Australia where Starbucks has tried to muscle in on the local cafe scene but the locals are so passionate about good coffee and loyal to their fave cafes it has had very limited success.

    I stumbled across Volpetti when I was in Rome in July and was fawned over, can’t imagine that happening in a complex. I wouldn’t want to go to a complex either as a visitor, it’s not the way I would like to experience food in Italy.

    (Just found your blog and love it btw!)

  11. @passerotto November 4, 2010 at 12:39 am - Reply

    When the relocated mega-Testaccio market will open, a piece of vecchia Roma will be erased. Forever.

  12. Sarah May November 5, 2010 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Your post and all the comments are food for thought. I wonder if it will be like Castroni, the place I hate to love, where I can get a few things that I can’t find anywhere else? I will still go to my favorite bread maker in Genzano who doesn’t even ship to Rome, and I will still go to the nuns down the road with their amazing organic seasonal produce, but if I am in Rome, I will check the place out and make an assessment.

  13. Katie November 5, 2010 at 11:24 am - Reply

    @Kelly yes eataly does win on the convenience front. and many of their products are very very good (though the presence of Barilla and Rossopomodoro pizzeria in the NYC branch would suggest otherwise). and their prices are relatively accessible. convenience and value are the combo that killed the corner shop and i hope places like Di Palo don’t get bumped off by Eataly in the coming years. Oh, have you been to Lucy’s Whey in Chelsea Market? they carry a really nice burrata made by Di Stefano.

    @Giuseppe pure poetry. i also love that personal contact with shopkeepers whose goal of feeding people well seems to transcend the quest for high profits at times. of course eataly’s philosphy is admirable but business is business and even eataly will sacrifice authenticity for profit (see aforementioned barilla and rossopomodoro statement). one would hope that in rome, there is room for every type of business, large or small, and that organic markets, mercati rionali, farmer’s markets, alimentari, panifici, and the lot could survive the rise of supermarkets or the opening of an eataly. but the current crisis climate suggests otherwise and in the past two years small food shops and market stalls have closed at an alarming rate, a fact that has led Rome’s Assessore alle Attività Produttive to promise to curb the opening of shopping centers and supermarkets and seek alternative financing solutions to fill the 500 empty stalls in rome’s markets citywide. In the meantime, I will continue to buy my meat from Daniele, pasta from Pino and Alessandro, cheese and cured meats from Emilio and bread from Pierluigi.

    @Lust For Travel Volpetti has unsurpassed customer service. it has a large staff and a decidedly more proactive approach to serving customers than most places. Glad you found it. did you happen to find a decent flat white while in town? if so id love to hear about it! 🙂

    @passerotto ill be sad to see the old testaccio market go. but, on the other hand, the vendors will finally be getting running water. the butchers, fishmongers, and eveyone else deserve to have modern amenities in their stalls and after checking out the revamped mercato trionfale (to be fair, the building itself lacks character) i was reassured that the change will be a positive one.

    @Sarah May i like the sound of this baker in Genzano!

  14. Sarah May November 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    @Katie, as you are aware, Genzano has a number of bakers, and they make pane di genzano but I have tried all of them and have my favorite, I think because he makes his saltier than the rest. I have a major salt tooth. The genzano bread most likely to show up in Rome is from Sergio. He even ships to Denmark and Sweden, which makes me wonder what the hell is he adding to let it survive a trip like that? My baker’s bread and pizza bianca is stale within 3 hours!!

  15. nyc/caribbean ragazza November 6, 2010 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Ciao Katie, I found Kettle Chips (Sea Salt and the Sea Salt with Cracked Pepper) at Despar supermarkets. Cheaper here than the Gelsons in L.A. (although with the exchange rate it probably evens out).

    So far I’ve seen them at the Via Nazionale, Largo Argentina and Prati (near Pz. Cavour) locations.

    Very excited.

  16. Lust for Travel November 6, 2010 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    @katie ha ha, no didn’t find a flat white in Roma but obvs the coffee is so good it didn’t matter! The flat white is spreading like wild fire in London though, you can get ’em everywhere.

  17. Kelly November 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    I have to get to Chelsea Market. Thanks! Somehow in NYC I just don’t see the people that go to Eataly as the same ones that go to Di Palo. I go to both, but the crowd in Eataly seemed more like they were there because of the cache and shiny newness and because of Batali and Joe. Di Palo seems to be more for the old school, die-hard italian food crowd. But I could be wrong. And while Di Palo carries quite a bit there are definitely things at Eataly that I have never seen at Di Palo or the annoying but great place by me that is only open 10-6 weekdays, so I can never get to it.

  18. […] Food shopping Tons of suggestions here. […]

  19. Eataly Roma is Taking Shape November 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    […] I’m not crazy about Eataly’s imminent arrival in Rome and, until recently, it was easy enough to write off its opening as a distant or improbable event. But yesterday, the Corriere della Sera reported on Regione Lazio President Renata Polverini’s visit to Eataly in Manhattan. She announced that from December 15-January 15, products of Lazio will be spotlighted at the Italian-American food megastore. Recently, too, founder of Eataly Oscar Farinetti followed up these comments, stating “On December 9, we will open Eataly in the Air Terminal Ostiense, which will be composed of 14.300 square meters (153,924 square feet) of space, including 14 restaurants, one of which will be dedicated to the cucina romana and another of Michelin rated proportions, 10 teaching areas, and a conference hall. Fifty-percent of the products on display will be from Lazio because the specialties of this region are not appreciated as they should be. I’m convinced we will do a great job.” And so Polverini and Farinetti have further solidified relations between the city of Rome, the region of Lazio and the Eataly group. Call me cynical but […]

  20. enrico November 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Sono qui all’internet poin di eataly torino, conosco bene la realtà di roma essendo romano e sono sicuro che saràun grande successo, senza paralizzare i negozi locali, qui a torino ed a bologna sono addirittura migliorati.
    E comunque a roma attualmente è molto difficile, per chi vuole, trovare prodotti del nord di alta qualità, formaggi, salumi. Dico questo perchè vivo tra torino e roma e conosco bene il tutto.
    Ciao e complimenti per il blog

  21. Alex Rast April 16, 2011 at 3:21 am - Reply

    OK, a very, very late comment but I just discovered this post and it speaks exactly to an issue I think there is a crying need to speak about but nobody has.

    On the one hand, places like Eataly I think are a problem because they bring a faceless, corporate mentality to shopping that makes the whole experience from the point of view of the buyer more an exercise in expediency than a genuine pleasure. That was certainly my impression of the one in Bologna. In addition the help isn’t usually very knowledgeable; compare this, e.g. with Volpetti to whom you can ask even an exacting question and they can make a recommendation.

    However, on the other they have a tendency to stock certain things, particularly at the high end of the quality scale, that you never find elsewhere. Usually these are high-quality basic staples; and there is a reason for this. Many, if not most customers, tend to treat basic staples as a commodity. From the point of view of the small shop, with limited shelf space, it is therefore unrealistic to stock as an alternate to a commodity-grade product a high-quality version at significantly higher prices. They have to stock what will sell. But larger corporate enterprises have both the funds to absorb relatively slow turnover in particular products and the shelf space to be able to dedicate to them. For example, I have found very high-quality organic semolina in Eataly and NEVER at any of the other numerous shops I’ve looked into in Italy. You don’t necessarily feel good about having to buy such things from shops like that, but when there is no choice, it’s what you will do.

    So such shops do have a place in promoting, further down the sourcing chain, small-scale local farmers and producers who are dedicated to high-quality products. They provide a critical market for these producers’ products that a small shop, even with the best will in the world, might not be able to afford.

    There is, however a dark side even to this. Many such shops are therefore in a position to impose exclusive retailer agreements on the (effectively captive) small producers. This makes these producers dependent upon the whim of the chain, and let’s have no mistake about it – such chains will drop such products without a hint of hesitation if they’re not turning a profit. The difference is that they (the chains) can cover the up-front loss and used shelf space, often with a fairly high markup. The better lines might sell more slowly than the “regular” lines, but they do sell eventually, because discriminating buyers quickly realise that’s their only option to get it.

    In summary I would call it a mixed blessing. The Eatalies of the world provide availabilities to the consumer, and accessibilities to the producer, that might otherwise not exist. But this comes at the price of generic, faceless shopping and considerable (though not usually exorbitant) markups.

  22. Tom June 17, 2012 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I was in the vicinity of the yet-to-be-open Rome Eataly this morning and although I can’t comment on the content, the context really sucks. Urbanistically speaking, this is neither a destination connected to food (like a farm stand on the farm) nor connected to crowds on the busy streets or neighborhoods where they already are hungry. I suppose there might be an argument that it is half way in between, on the transit routes from farm to foodies, but I would only really buy this if fresh produce, cheeses and olive oil were really being unloaded from clean electric trains in the adjacent rail yards and not being driven down from Piedmont in diesel tractor trailers. This is really a desperate attempt to transform a monumentally bad building from an eyesore into an investment opportunity. Once the investors have cashed in their chips, though, I seriously doubt this will thrive for long.

  23. Ori M. November 13, 2012 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for these reccomendations.
    I was wondering if you could reccomend a store where I can buy pistachio paste and amarena cherries(by fabri or anyone else) in good prices in rome.
    In my country they cost fortune and I want to stock some while I’m in rome next week,
    A great blog you have thank you so much for your hard job.


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