Eataly loves kids- and it’s mutual

Disclosure: I’m thrilled to be working today with Eataly and sharing my new Italian food obsessions! Although I’ve been compensated, all thoughts, opinions, and clean plates are entirely my own.


Eataly, you guys.

Coming to you today as a Chicago foodie, parent to three kid-sized eaters, and a reluctant member of the gluten-free community, lemme tell you a little bit about Eataly.

The largest Italian marketplace in the world, it was founded in Torino, Italy, in 2007. While locations are all over the world, the U.S. stores are the brainchild of founder Oscar Farinetti and his American partners (Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich, and Adam and Alex Saper). Here, Eataly boasts two NYC locations, Boston digs, and this- their largest one in the U.S.- the Chicago spot, clocking in at a whopping 60,000 square feet on two floors, with five full-service restaurants, six private event spaces, multiple spots to grab a quick bite, a marvelous marketplace and even a cooking school.

We spent a good deal of time in La Pizza & La Pasta, where we wholeheartedly dove into their celebration of $9 Neapolitan pizzas for children 10 and under, crafted by their expert pizzaiolo— or pizza maker– Simone.

Pizza, you say? We’ve had pizza.

Spoiler: Not like this. (Unless, you know, you hang out in Italy all the time. In that case, we need to have a different convo.) My kids were sold on this place from the get-go! To start, they were able to color in their choices on an adorable menu. They decided between pizzas shaped like bunnies, hearts, fish, or butterflies, and with ingredients like olive oil, pomodoro, spicy salami, mozzarella, basil, and mushrooms. These fantastic personal pizzas/animals are available Sunday through Thursday (Sunday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.).

Jasper Chicago Eataly

“Keely,” I can hear you saying. “You can’t eat pizza or pasta, unless it’s of the supremely unsatisfying gluten-free variety.” WELL. Eataly feels me. They offer four different types of dough; Classica– made with Type 00 flour to produce an airy, charred crust and elastic center- Rustica– made with Type 1 whole wheat dough for a slightly sweet and hearty flavor- Moderna– an even lighter, crispier crust than the Classica– and Leggera– made of rice, corn, and gluten-free buckwheat. (They label the Leggera as “low gluten” since, while the crust is gf, the baking spaces aren’t guaranteed, thus making it not ideal for Celiac sufferers or very sensitive NCGS peeps.) But hey, secret menu time! Many of their divine pastas can be made gluten-free with their special- and gloriously al dente- gf penne. (Not only was the penne with their Pasta Al Nero toppings of shrimp, calamari, mussels, braised leeks, tomato, and white wine the best gluten-free pasta I’ve ever had, it may very well be the best pasta I’ve ever had in my history of eating food.)

But back to the kids.

Nora’s butterfly pizza, and Jasper and Suzy’s bunnies were massive and— at least according to P.J. the non-allergic— boasted that crispy crust with a soft, elastic center. I’ll have to take his word for it, as the kids didn’t slow down for mid-dinner conversation. (Impressive, since Suzy’s bunny was loaded down with every last ingredient offered on the menu. Atta girl!)

Suzy Chicago Eataly

Nora Jane’s confidential tip to other 7 year-old diners: “Get it with the blood orange Italian soda. Trust me. It’s my sixth favorite color (editor’s note: ..?) and really, really good.”

Nora Chicago Eataly

And Jasper could’ve ridden the glass elevator throughout the emporium all evening. (We didn’t let him, but it was definitely on his docket.)

Located mere steps from the Mag Mile, taking the crew to Eataly might just be the best vacation (or staycation!) meal Chicago has to offer, in terms of fam-friendliness, exceptional quality, and value for those crazy kiddos (who apparently need to eat repeatedly throughout the day).

Happy eating, amici!


43 East Ohio Street, Chicago



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