Here's why Eataly is so big: It's full of secrets. (Credit: Virginia Rollison) http://www.amny.com/secrets-of-new-york/secrets-of-eataly-nyc-1.10667901 Here's why Eataly is so big: it's full of secrets. https://cdn.newsday.com/polopoly_fs/1.10671998.1446927728!/httpImage/image.jpeg_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.jpeg food & drink Secrets of Eataly: Smuggled yeast, free wine and more 200 Fifth Ave 10010 Website By MELISSA KRAVITZ Updated August 5, 2015 2:16 PM Here's why Eataly is so big: It's full of secrets. The 50,000-square-foot Italian food emporium serves around 15,000 visitors on weekdays and up to 25,000 visitors on weekends -- and that's not counting holidays! While you may have eaten your way through Eataly, we're here to let you in on a few more secrets. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly was actually not created by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich or Joe Bastianich. While many credit the celebrity chefs with the brand, Eataly USA is actually a partnership between Eataly Italia, B&B Hospitality Group (where Batali and Bastianich come in), and businessmen Alex and Adam Saper. Eataly was originally founded by Oscar Farinetti, the Italian founder of a large consumer electronics retail chain called UniEuro, which is similar to P.C. Richard & Son. After struggling to find certain regional Italian ingredients, Farinetti's sons, including Nicola, the current CEO of Eataly USA, wanted to build a central location to get Italian food from the entire country. Historically, the Farinetti family had been bread and pasta makers, so the food business came naturally! Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly opened in NYC in 2010, but the building has had many prior lives. 200 Fifth Ave. was built in 1856 and served as the Fifth Avenue Hotel from 1859 to 1908. In 1909, the building became the International Toy Center, a hub for U.S. toy manufacturers and distributors during the World War I era. The Boy Scouts of America National Headquarters were located in the building from 1910 to 1927. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly has its very own produce butcher. The on-site produce butcher will cut whatever fruits or veggies you want, all for free. Note there's a tip jar not too far from the cutting board. See an interesting piece of produce you don't know how to use? Ask! The produce butchers can also teach you how to better cut that tricky melon or provide cooking advice. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly's market-style produce is constantly rotated for optimal freshness. While Eataly sources almost all its own ingredients and food items, due to local availability (or lack thereof) Eataly uses a third-party distributor, Baldor, for its produce. Throughout the day, Baldor employees check produce to turn over, replace with fresher product or bring to one of Eataly's restaurant kitchens. Most of what you can buy has been out for less than 24 hours! Credit: Melissa Kravitz You can drink a glass of wine while you shop. Yes, you can have some Chianti in hand as you push your cart! Order a glass (or a bottle) at any of Eataly's restaurants or bars and keep it with you as you shop! We don't know why other grocery stores don't do this. (Note: The glass of wine pictured above is in Italy, not Eataly). Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly makes all of its own fresh pasta! Between its restaurants and retail, Eataly goes through 5,000 pounds of pasta each week! Unique varieties include stuffed pastas, flavored pastas (squid ink!) and unusual shapes. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly butchers its own meat. Animals are broken down in-house, creating less waste and saving additional costs. Pictured: cow shoulder. (Yum.) Eataly goes through 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of meat per week. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly also uses 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of fish per week. Fish is sourced from local fishing boats, the Fulton Fish Market and imported from the Mediterranean. The high volume of fish passing through ensures the selection is always fresh. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Olive oil is imperative to Eataly's success. Eataly carries more than 100 single estate olive oils! If you think you've had good olive oil, consult with the store's olive oil sommelier and prepare to taste even better olive oil! Credit: Melissa Kravitz It's all about the mozz! Two hundred pounds of mozzarella are made and sold in Eataly on weekdays, with up to 300 pounds of hand-stretched cheese on Saturdays and Sundays! Visit the mozzarella counter to watch mozzarella artisans form the cheese balls. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Eataly's bread has a super secret ingredient... Eataly's bakery is a 24-hour operation! The oven, which is on constantly, was built on-site from Spanish brick. Eataly bakes 1,800 loaves of bread per weekday and 2,500 loaves per day on weekends. Eataly's signature loaf, served at all the restaurants, is started with Mother Yeast, which has been alive for 36 years and said to be smuggled in from Italy. All leftover bread is donated to City Harvest. Bread from the special oven, which burns eco-friendly BioBricks, is also used to make focaccia and used in sandwiches at Eataly's famed grab-and-go Rosticceria, which may just serve the best prime rib sandwich in NYC. Credit: Melissa Kravitz You have to leave Eataly to visit its wine store. Because of NYC licensing issues, Eataly's wine store is right next door to the marketplace. The entrance to the bi-level Eataly Vino is on 23rd Street. Here, you'll find over 500 different types of wine, organized by Italian regions. Credit: Melissa Kravitz Upstairs, the Riserva Room sells unique wines. Here, you'll find interesting and valuable Italian wines priced upward of $300. Eataly sources these wines from auctions and other hard-to-access wine markets. Credit: Melissa Kravitz There's also free wine! Eataly Vino hosts complimentary wine tastings most weeknights between 6 and 8 p.m. Visit eataly.com for more information. Salute! Credit: Melissa Kravitz The most Italian part of Eataly is the espresso bar. Ask anyone who works at Eataly -- you'll find the Italians lounging at the espresso bar sipping shots of Caffe Vergnano any time of day! Non-Italians will probably be found drinking Nutella iced coffee at the nearby Nutella bar, but don't be fooled ... Credit: Melissa Kravitz There's just so much to eat at Eataly! Between the free samples, six sit-down restaurants, a rooftop beer garden, plenty of food counters, a cooking school and a pop-up restaurant, we challenge you to leave Eataly hungry. Stuff yourself like a ravioli! 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