Reality Check – Eataly Roma on a Sunday Evening: Far From a Dream
You read how much importance we attach to the opening of Eataly in Rome (story here). This one of the major events of 2012 for Italy’s capital and we are confident it will also change the city’s food culture (read this post). But we don’t write advertorials here, nor we were hired by Mr. Farinetti (founder/owner of Eataly) and his partners to celebrate his latest adventure.
And we feel like sharing with you what was our experience on a peak day: a summer Sunday evening.
We got there by car and at 7pm it was already full (600 parking lots….). While reaching the entrance we immediately got the impression that there were many, many people there. As soon as we got in, we realized that the temperature was too high, the air conditioned system was clearly struggling to work properly.
We had a nice, long walk watching all the great, reasonably priced items on sale. We then stopped at the wine section for a drink and we liked the fact that a glass of wine came half the price of what you’d be charged in a wine bar in downtown Rome. But the prices of the whole bottles of wine to buy were really high. At around 50% more than the average prices in Rome wine shops. Ok the wines sold by Eataly Roma are biological, sulfite and chemical additives free etc…but they are way too expensive.
Then it came the time to sit down and eat. Which is not an easy task, honestly. After having ruled out the Ristorante Italia for its skyrocketing prices ( just to give you an example: aubergine parmigiana 20eur, three times as expensive as the standard price in Roman restaurants), we decided to pick one of the little restaurants of the 1st and 2nd floors. But there were three problems: most of the table were full at around 8pm for a party of 4 people, it was hard to understand what was the day’s menu was and anyway the choice was very limited.
We finally chose one and we were given a choice of 4 kinds of pasta and 5 types of pizza (too little considered that in an average place in Rome you have at least 8-10 pasta and 15 pizza). You are supposed to find a table on your own, then go to the cashier to pay what you want in advance and then wait for them to bring it to your table. You can also get something from the other restaurants but you have to physically go there and take it to your table once it’s ready, not a very convenient thing to do.
Our cashier was very rigid with us as we were not 100% sure of what our tables number were and she said we might not get any food at all if the numbers were not right. The waiter who took our drinks didn’t have a bottle opener and she didn’t bother to retrieve one for us, she just told us to ask for it when any of her colleagues would pass by our table! My table mates had already finished their dishes when my pizza arrived: half an hour after we had paid, despite several attempts to get info on why it took so long. And honestly the whole eating drinking experience there on a crowded day like yesterday has the same degree of intimacy of an airport or a business fair. Food was very good, though.
We then wanted ice cream but we couldn’t go to our favorite parlour as the queue was too long….And while in line at the other one, we had to wait for one of the shop assistants to be instructed on how to weigh and sell pastries!
Conclusions: there is still a lot to adjust for Eataly Roma. Service has definitely to improve. Go there in small groups. Choose quiet days/hours (mornings-early afternoons of working days).