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John Ryan

Eataly in a Hurry?

The Italian food theme park hits the freeway with a small-format concept

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MANY IN NORTH AMERICA will be familiar with Eataly. These are the places where you go to enjoy all things Italian – eat the pizza, pasta et al, buy the food, maybe pick up a few homewares or some cookbooks. There are outposts in New York, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas, among others, and they all follow a similar pattern.

This may mean that it’s easy to forget that this is an essentially southern European proposition and that there are branches across the continent. What most will not associate with this brand is airport or motorway (that’s a highway to you) dining.

Eataly has, in fact, just teamed up with Italian motorway service station outfit Autogrill to open an outpost that is located on a bridge across a six-lane highway between Milan and Serravalle. This is, perhaps, not the sort of thing that might naturally form as an Eataly. Yet a quick look inside this one reveals that, yes, it has a large and pretty good-looking Italian restaurant, the usual white wood and metal mid-shop fixtures used to display olive oils and pasta and there is, of course, a limited range of homewares.

The point about all of this is that up until relatively recently, enjoying an experience of this kind would not be the thing that would be readily available for those opting to dash from city to city in an automobile. The fact that it happened expands the Eataly franchise, making it on hand for those who want Italian in a hurry.

Who knows, this could be the start of something big and a really attractive option for those making the journey from, let’s say, LA to Vegas. Things are looking up for those who want a piece of the old (Italian) country without having to make some kind of calorie-laden pilgrimage.

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