Q & A With Lidia Bastianich: On Vegas, Her Next Book + Chances Of An L.A.-based Eataly
LB: That was a major project, about three years in the making. Our Italian partner, Oscar Farinetti, is the originator of the project with Eataly in Italy. About three years ago, I did an event for him in Italy, and he tells me he wants to come to New York. My son, myself and Mario were all interested. The retail side, combining that with restaurants, was very interesting to me. Will it work? Sometimes two things that are good on their own don't work well together. We didn't know what to expect.
SI: It's been successful?
LB: It has been. We have seven eating venues, restaurants, a café, and then we have all the retail shops. You can buy fresh fish, homemade pasta -- 350 pounds of homemade pasta a day is what we are going through now. We have a wood burning oven for bread and make 2,000 to 3,000 loaves of bread a day.
Now, it's almost like a social phenomenon. People come in, have a glass of wine, go shopping with their glass of wine, like in Italy. Right now we're working on opening a brewery on the rooftop with imported Italian beers, so that's next. We collaborate very closely with the Slow Food movement, so everything is artisan, people like that.
SI: You've essentially created another Little Italy in Manhattan, only perhaps arguably more authentic.
LB: Yes, actually. The epicenter of the Eataly space is like a piazza, there we have the tall tables. From each you can get raw fish, salumi, whatever you need. Sit, eat, share like you do in Italy.
SI: Any plans for other Eataly venues at this point? Specifically L.A.?
LB: [Laughs] Well, we already have people asking, of course. But this sort of thing needs a concentration of people to work. So it has to be in the right place. Who knows, maybe.
Check back later for more with Bastianich as she talks about adding Facebook and Twitter fans to her already packed workday/family time schedule and adds her two cents on social responsibility.