The hype of Eataly has taken over Tahlia St. and the Italian food scene in Riyadh will never be the same again. In a short span of 10 years, Eataly has become a popular restaurant brand with avid fans all over the world. When the teaser ads for Eataly were first spotted, I heard exciting cheers from traveler friends who know of Eataly from Dubai and the US. Obviously, its reputation precedes itself. Last week, we were invited to a special morning tour of their minty fresh store-slash-restaurant for I reckon the place must be packed during the night. Personally, I have never been nor heard of Eataly before so I experienced it first-hand.
As it turns out, Eataly is a half-marketplace, half-restaurant. Upon entering the sliding doors, you will be welcomed by counters and shelves of their partner-products. It has a wide variety of Italian ingredients such as pasta, sauces, olive oils, cheese, chocolates, coffee and pastries. Just walk in a little further and you’ll see the big Venchi counter, which boasts of a huge selection of artisanal, Italian chocolates.
As you turn right from the Venchi Counter, you will find the Pasta Counter. It displays several of its freshly made pasta like penne, ravioli and other Italian pasta names I can’t pronounce right. 😉
You will notice that there are description boards beside the displays all over the store area as it is the shared goal of Eataly not just to feed their customers but to also educate them about the ingredients.
Right beside the Pasta Counter, is the Bread Counter. They bake all of their bread in the store, fresh daily. The bakery has glass windows so you can see the staff as they prepare and make the bread from scratch.
Hold your breath for the next station guys because this is one popular stand inside the store…drumroll please….check out their NUTELLA COUNTER!!! (Yes, I tried saying that without freaking out but I can’t).
They make fresh crepes and waffles using Nutella spread of course. You may place your order and have it served in the dining area which I will show you later on. For now, let’s do a complete 360 of the marketplace before proceeding to the dining section.
According to our tour guides, Italians like to drink their coffee while standing up hence there are no special seating for the coffee area. The illy coffee brand is a famous Italian brand and their espresso is sharp and strong.
The word “gastronomy” is one of my favorite words and it means “the practice of choosing, cooking and eating good food.” And for me, good food can sometimes come in just one word: cheese. Yas people, C-H-E-E-S-E. Cheese (and butter) are the sacred words in the world of the cooking and by all means, you can leave me in this Gastronomy Counter all day long and I would not complain one bit! In fact I went back a couple of times within the duration of the tour. I even wanted to secretly take home the display of spicy cheese and eat it without guilt at home. But, I digress…
Every cheese platter had a dip of honey or jam beside it so you can fully experience the cheese in the flavors that its best paired with.
After forcing myself to leave the Gastronomy Section, I begrudgingly walked on over to the Pastry Counter to catch a glimpse of their sweet, baked goods. They have a variety of cakes, tarts and of course, cannoli.
There is a small cafe-like seating area right across the Pastry Counter and for those not looking for a full dining experience, they can enjoy their coffee and pastries in this section of the restaurant:
Don’t forget to grab your trolleys by the way if you intend to shop and there are more items in the store that you can purchase and cook for yourself at home.
Now you can shop for the ingredients and carry on your merry way. But since you’re already there, why not sit down and have a meal prepared with the very same ingredients you found in their store? In Eataly, they have this slogan of “Eat where you Shop, Shop where you Eat.” — At first I thought it was such a conundrum but I eventually made sense of what they meant (Haha, it just got complicated!).
Their dining area is divided into two. There’s an open space for everyone to enjoy the atmosphere of a busy restaurant and there’s another private area with booths and shades for those who like it within closed doors. The overall look is light, simple and bright.
We weren’t able to order from the full menu, but they did give us a lotttt of taste tests for each of their specialties, including their freshly baked pizzas. Here’s what we had:
From these tidbits of food, I enjoyed the Rigatoni Pasta the best followed by the Rollatina de Pollo. They were the most flavorful items, in my opinion. The Seafood Pasta was quite salty for me and the Seabass was a bit dry…maybe because it’s been served out too long on the counter before we got to it? I wasn’t able to take a photo of the two types of pizzas that they gave us, but they were the Tonno Pizza (Tuna Pizza) and Quattro Formaggio (Four Cheese Pizza). Both of them gets my two thumbs up!
I took a glance at their menu and the price range was quite affordable. It’s within the 45-75 SAR bracket for the restaurant menu, with just a few select dishes that reach up to 109 SAR. Their Italian Classic juice blends go for 29SAR to 36SAR at most and the illy coffee bar prices start from 13SAR to 22SAR. The service was adequately quick and the staff seems to be well-trained. I’ll be coming back next time for a proper dinner meal. That, and a chance at hoarding at that Gastronomy Counter and all those cheese!
Tahlia St. (after Chili’s)
No reservations, Walk-in only
Sun-Wed: 9:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Thur, Fri & Sat: 9:00 AM to 12:30 AM