TORONTO — Media were taken on a culinary tour of Italy last week as the new Eataly Toronto — the first Eataly location in Canada — gave journalists a sneak peak of the 50,000-sq.-ft. Italian market in the heart of Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
Located in the Manulife Centre, at the intersection of Bay and Bloor Streets, Eataly boasts three floors of gastronomic experiences — including retail, restaurants, a grab-and-go counter and an on-site brewery run by Toronto’s Indie Ale House.
Founded in 2007 in Torino, Italy, by Oscar Farinetti, the Eataly concept aims to make high-quality Italian foods available to everyone, at fair prices and in an environment where people can eat, shop and learn. While most of the food available to buy in the market and grocery store has been imported from Italy, Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly North America, says there will be domestic Canadian produce, including dairy and meat, available as well.
“We’ve spent an incredible amount of time selecting the best ingredients possible, but also for every price point,” Farinetti told the tour. “We want to ensure high quality is affordable for everyone.”
To bring the concept to Toronto, the Eataly team partnered with Toronto-based Selfridges Group, through its parent company Wittington Investments Ltd. — a private, family-owned Canadian company, which holds a controlling interest in George Weston Limited.
“In 2013, Oscar Farinetti met with Galen Weston Sr. to discuss a joint venture to open an Eataly in London, England,” explained Tony Grossi, president of Wittington Group of Companies.
During negotiations, the Eataly teams from Milano and New York came to Toronto and were attracted to the market because of its large Italian population, which is still close in culture and values to the old country, as well as the city’s strong food culture and Eataly’s strong brand recognition.
“This is how Toronto happened and it happened quickly because we found this great location,” said Grossi. “We hope what you see today is the interpretation of what Eataly has done with respect to the Toronto market, because Toronto is very different from the other cities Eataly has opened in.”
Eataly’s on-site cooking school will offer daily classes to teach customers how best to utilize the ingredients they buy. The pasta station boasts dozens of different noodles made fresh daily for Eataly’s restaurants and market, while three pizza stations offer something for every taste — Neopolitan, Roman-style and a traditional pan-fried pizza native to Turin.
From cheese, truffle oil, caviar and olive oil (Eataly currently stocks more than 100 types of oil and plans to carry more in the future) to fresh fish and dry-aged meat, Eataly is all about bringing the Italian experience to Toronto.
Eataly Toronto officially opens November 13 at 5 p.m. The launch will mark the brand’s 40th store globally, with the majority concentrated in Italy. In the next couple of years, the team behind Eataly will continue its expansion with new locations planned for Dallas, Texas and London, England.