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Cathy Pavlos, executive chef/co-owner, LUCCA   

Click here for Cathy Pavlos' bio



Thursday, October 21, 2010
Eating IN New York City?
O.C. chef heads to New York City
We made it! After a day of traveling from O.C. to New York City, Elliott and I are situated in our apartment for the week on 20th Street off of Park Avenue. We are conveniently located by the Toy Building, home to Mario Batali's new 50,000-square-foot eating adventure, Eataly. (Click here to find it on facebook.)

With the marketplace being so close, Elliott and I decided to regain our strength after the journey (man, even the cross country can really take it out of you). So, we started our “research” for our new concept in Orange County at Eataly!

Eataly in a word: boisterous, big, bold. ... OK, that was 3 words. This is by far one of the most extensive eating emporiums that I have ever seen (even for New York). It is certainly comparable to Harrods in London, but with an Italian accent. True to the hype, there is a counter for everything, as well as endless aisles filled with anything and everything to take home and cook (the only problem being that New Yorkers do not cook). It is sort of like an Italian Disneyland for food (and a shrine to Battali and Lidia Bastanavich). And for that, you do pay a premium. We ate at the fish restaurant today, and I feel that it still has a couple of bugs to work out. Service, a little surly (but hey, this is New York); fish, a little overcooked and a little overpriced (and again, this is New York); and overall experience, well, we were sitting at the counter where we could watch the line cooks, and I distinctly heard the sous chef yell, "Table 37, fire that ^%$&* fish – what? They want it well done, #$%$#, are they nuts?” Nuts, indeed. (Did I mention this is New York?)

A tip: Don't even try this place during lunch hours. As a Californian, and a Southern Californian to boot, you'll never survive the crunch. You’re asked to line up at these “seating points” where you get on a list to sit down. To a Manhattanite, this is normal, to a Californian, it is insane (in the best possible way, of course). Think of Eataly as a football-field-size space, crammed with the best-of-the-best food options available – and about 40,000 people all trying to get to them! I was told that Eataly is visited by – are you ready for this – 200,000 people a day! I think that all those individuals were there when we were trying to have lunch.

Not to be a spoiler, but here’s the deal: The fish counter is superb, the pasta counter is dizzying and the breads – "fuggedaboutit." But then again, this is Manhattan, and you can't shake a stale baguette without hitting a fabulous food experience of some kind. I have shopped on Canal Street in Chinatown for the best local fish (the turnover is incredible, and the fish the freshest ever) at about half the price that I saw today. These fish have pedigrees. In fact, the provenance of all the products is written on the walls of the store. I believe the word is "convenience," and in Manhattan, peeps are willing to pay for it. I know a fabulous cheese shop in Greenwich Village, alongside a butcher shop that has everything; a bakery in the Chelsea Market that would make you cry; and prepared food from Zabars that is the best. At Eataly, you can find it all under one 50,000-square-foot roof – er, ceiling.

Oh, and by the way: Eataly serves Lavazza coffee, too, just like we do at LUCCA! Today the wine store was tasting Pio Cesare selections – many of the same that we have on our list at LUCCA. Not bad at all!

Now, we still have much ahead of us, according to our “must-do” list:

• Visit one of the original farm-to-table restaurants in New York
• Check out pizza concepts in Brooklyn – well, shucks, we gotta eat pizza!
• Tour the Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park campus – after all, it is considered the mother of culinary schools
• Visit the Cake Boss in Hoboken, NJ – a MUST for Elliott
• Visit the best charcuterie shops in the city
•  Check out Chelsea Market and other notable shopping destinations

Stay tuned for more adventures! We’ll give you a recap of all the OC METRO blogs in our next newsletter, so if you not on our list, join here: j.mp/7bi4kE!!