Eataly and Vinitaly in New York

Above: Giovanni Mantovani (CEO VeronaFiere and Vinitaly), Oscar Farinetti (Italian retail, food, and wine tycoon, creator of Eataly), and Stevie Kim (senior adviser to Mr. Mantovani) yesterday at the opening of Bastianchi-Batali-Farinetti brainchild Eataly in New York.

Yesterday, mere moments after Mr. Franco Ziliani and I posted about the Italian agricultural minister’s claim that there is no crisis in the Italian wine industry, I spoke to Stevie Kim (above, right), senior adviser to Vinitaly’s CEO. She and her boss were attending the opening of the latest conquest in the ever-expanding Batali-Bastianich empire, Eataly, the “über-supermarket” conceived by retail tycoon Oscar Farinetti.

“As you know,” said Stevie, “production of Italian wines has increased dramatically in recent years and the Italian market is saturated. And so the international market has become more important for all producers.”

The Italian government, she told me, has asked her and her boss to “revamp” the Vinitaly road show, which has been coming to the U.S. for a decade (fyi Vinitaly is the top Italian wine industry annual trade fair, held each year in Verona in April). They plan to reconfigure the tasting this year, to be held at Eataly New York October 25, to accommodate trade and consumers.

“In the past, the presentation has been very fragmented. This year, we plan to restyle the tasting by transforming Eataly [New York] into Vinitaly,” said Stevie, who speaks impeccable Italian and has lived in Italy for more than 20 years. 50 producers will be attending this year’s road show, the maximum number Eataly New York can accommodate.

To Stevie I say, in bocca al lupo…

I’m not sure how I feel about Eataly (photo by Stevie). It seems to make more sense in New York than it does in Turin, where it started. It’s a sort of Disneyland for Italian food: a hyper-realistic food court, a recreation of an Italian food and wine street shopping scene. Surprisingly, in Piedmont, where “Italian food” is known simply as “food,” Eataly has been well received. At least, that’s my impression from talking to the Piedmontese. I’ve never visited Eataly, although Tracie P and I stopped once at the Eataly satellite on the road that leads from Alessandria to Asti.

There are Eataly franchises in Turin, Asti, Bologna, Milan, Tokyo, and now New York. Future expansion includes Genoa and Rome. Eataly enjoys the support of the SlowFood movement and its founder Carlo Petrini (however much the organization’s ethos would otherwise opposed globalization).

One thing you can say for certain about Eataly’s creator Mr. Farinetti: he’s no farniente!