The tastes, smells and experiences of Italy are coming to San Jose in a three-story, all-in-one artisanal market and restaurant space.
Eataly Silicon Valley opens at the Westfield Valley Fair mall on June 16. The latest opening is part of 41 locations across the world, and Raffaele Piarulli, chief operating officer of Eataly, is thrilled to be in the region.
“For so many reasons this is the perfect place to open our next location,” Piarulli told San José Spotlight. “The Bay Area has great (Mediterranean) weather, great produce and the people here want to learn about the culture.”
Eataly first opened in Piarulli’s hometown of Torino, Italy in 2007. He said each Eataly is different with its own character and theme, but the goal is the same—for customers to eat, shop and learn about Italian culture.
There are two sit-down restaurants on the top floor of Eataly Silicon Valley: La Pizza & La Pasta and Terra.
La Pizza & La Pasta highlights Italian classics like the Neapolitan pizza cooked for 90 seconds in wood-burning ovens, and signature fresh pasta dishes like spaghetti al pomodoro made using three ingredients.
“That’s the beauty of Italian food—it’s ingredient-centric and simple,” said Alex Saper, an Eataly business partner. “It is not the skill set so much as it is finding the right produce and highlighting it.”
Terra is a rooftop restaurant and lounge inspired by the elements of earth and fire, where all dishes are cooked on a wood-burning grill. The restaurant highlights several types of gin where customers can build their own cocktail.
For quicker bites, the ground floor offers an eatery where customers can get gelato, freshly made tiramisu and cannolis, as well as street food favorites like the Roman Pizza alla Pala and Italian roasted coffee.
The third floor of Eataly Silicon Valley has a vast collection of 10,000 high-quality food products from more than 2,000 regional Italian and domestic producers, with more than 100 varieties of olive oil, unique chocolates, sauces and pastas.
It boasts more than 500 types of cured meats and cheeses —some hard to find outside of Italy like 18-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano.
There are 40 kinds of Italian salami and prosciutto from all five DOPs—Denominazione d’Origine Protetta, or protected designation of origin—importers of prosciutto that are hard to find in the U.S. like Rovagnati.
“It gives people like us who are popular in Italy (the chance) to expand into more markets,” Lorenzo Tedeschi, export manager for Rovagnati, told San José Spotlight.
He said the struggle with prosciutto is there are many natural bacterias banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so some Italian producers have to buy a $1 million machine to remove them—which is what Tedeschi did.
Cristina Flores, vice president of product, said Eataly works with companies in Italy to help them comply with FDA regulations.
Eataly also creates its burrata and mozzarella cheese in house, along with fresh bread. It houses a large butcher with rare meats, local seafood and fresh produce from local farms.
“You could really do all your grocery shopping here,” Flores said. “What sets us apart is, first and foremost we are Italian. We are bringing great representation of Italian products in the marketplace that is very hard to find.”
Shoppers can get a glimpse of Italy’s culture through Eataly Silicon Valley’s shops and restaurants, but also through classes like making fresh pasta, baking tiramisu and other Italian favorites. Eataly will also host a monthly wine club where members get three different bottles and learn how the specific wines are made. Eataly boasts more than 1,200 different wines from 20 different regions.
“We’re able to introduce people to all of this incredible Italian food, while combining it with the best of what the local community has to offer,” Saper said. “This is going to be a great location.”
Contact Jana Kadah at [email protected] or @Jana_Kadah on Twitter.