It's a question that seems needlessly cruel: Which of the city's two Eataly locations is better?

After all, could you choose a favorite parent? A favorite child?

But it was a New York City foodie question that needed an answer, so amNY.com launched an intensive investigation to crown either Eataly Flatiron (the original) or Eataly Downtown (the upstart) the best location of the always crowded, always delicious, always wine-soaked Italian market and food hall chain.

With a question so serious, there was a need to set ground rules. Both locations were visited at the same time of day: 11 a.m., before the biggest rush of tourists began to navigate the narrow aisles of panettones and olive oil. We sampled quick sandwiches and gelato at each location for this showdown -- though we've also eaten at the sit-down restaurants at each Eataly at other times. (And we may have been moved to recreate the homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli with lemon, butter and pistachios at home on multiple occasions, including Thanksgiving. Luckily, it's served at both locations.)

Here's a look at how the two match up in a slew of categories, followed by our final ruling.