Above: A worker at the Eataly gelateria in Manhattan serves us a single scoop of tasty stracciatella.
I've been fortunate that, over the past 15 years, I've been able to travel a bit. Part of that travel has involved visiting Italy a number of times, during which I've managed to hit some 16 of the country's 20 regions. So while I don't consider myself a student of Italy history and culture, I do know a few things about it.
So I was enthusiastic on Monday about visiting Eataly, the Italian-style location in Manhattan that is a cluster of shops and eateries collected under one big roof. It feels authentically Italian, if far cleaner than any public Italian setting I've ever experienced. And as we walked through, past the Illy coffee station, the gelato corner, all the meat and cheese displays, the open restaurant that was serving a variety of regional dishes (the specialty on Monday was everything from Puglia), the sweet shop and so much more.
I had to have some coffee, of course, and my wife opted for hot chocolate - though I should have tried the cappuccino, and her drink was basically melted chocolate and far too rich.
The high point, though, was when we stopped at the gelateria to order stracciatella, which is the Italian version of chocolate-chip and vanilla ice cream. It is my favorite flavor, and I haven't been able to find it anywhere but Italy. (I know, so many places advertise that they serve "gelato," even in New York, but most really don't.) The stracciatella served at Eataly, though, was the exception.
It was the best gelato I've had outside of Florence, Milan, Venice or Rome. Well worth the visit, and enough to make me anticipate my next visit to the city of my favorite gelaterias: Perche No?, Gelateria dei neri, Grom and Vivoli.