Counter Culture: Italian food market Eataly poised to arrive in Toronto?


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Image: Eataly Facebook

Possibly confirming rumours that have been swirling around the Toronto foodie scene for months, Mario Batali, owner of the Eataly chain of Italian-themed food markets, appears set to announce a local arrival for the franchise.

As reports have widely indicated, the partnership may be something similar to Eataly’s planned presence at Selfridges, the prominent London, UK-based department store, starting in September 2016. Here, though, the arrival of the popular market to Toronto may be through a similar partnership with Holt Renfrew, observers say—but that option isn’t set in stone yet. It certainly seems like a logical choice, though. After all, both high-end shopping outlets are owned by the same person: Toronto-based Galen Weston. It no doubt makes sense to get in where you’ve got a foot in the door.

Eataly, to the uninitiated, isn’t a restaurant. It’s more of a luxuriously niche marketplace, carrying the ingredients of Italian cuisine that may or may not be difficult to find elsewhere. Italian-grain spaghettone, croxetti pasta, burgundy truffles; throughout the store, it’s like a cornucopia of fine eating, or the makings of fine eating, at any rate. And the listing of goods and services under an Eataly roof even runs beyond that, with food stalls, tasting areas, cafes, and restaurants also occupying the same space. While a new-ish and wildly popular idea here in North America, it’s an extension of the European food hall—an experience more immersive than your average trip to the grocery store. 

When Eataly comes to Toronto, we’ll only be the third city in North America to host one of these marketplaces, too. With ten locations already open in Italy, thirteen in Japan, one in Turkey and one in Dubai, Eataly’s existing Chicago and New York stores are their only presence on this side of the ocean.

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