Eataly – World Trade Center, Manhattan – September 25, 2016
This past weekend, we ventured downtown to visit the National Museum of the American Indian, NYC branch, (It is part of the Smithsonian. Admission is free, and it is a great museum!) and the newly completed Oculus at the World Trade Center. Afterwards, we enjoyed lunch at the newest NYC branch of Eataly, Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich’s superstore for all the Italian food your heart could desire.
The Oculus, the new transit hub at The World Trade Center, is breathtaking both inside and out. The stark white paint and enormous steel bars create a cathedral ceiling and a bright airy space. My husband compared it to, “the phoenix rising from the ashes.” The only problem we experienced during our visit was that all of the elevators were being worked on, so I could not go down to the lower levels.
Eataly takes up the entire top floor of the shopping center just south of the Oculus. You could get lost in an Italian food delirium here. There are quick service food counters, sit down restaurants, and boatloads of shopping. Compared to the first Eataly in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, this space felt more open and brighter.
We decided to share two sandwiches from the panini (pronounced pah-nee-nee, a grilled sandwich made from bread other than sliced bread) counter: the Padano (pronounced pah-dah-noh) and the Marinaio (pronounced mah-ree-nigh-oh).
The Padano came hot on a baguette with mozzarella, asiago, tallegio, Parmigiano Reggiano®, and yellow tomatoes. The bread was crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The combination of cheeses had nutty, salty, and funky flavors that were wonderful. The slightly sweet tomatoes also brought some acid to cut through the cheeses’ flavors. Everything was so fresh and flavorful.
The Marinaio came on focaccia (pronounced foh-cah-chee-ah, flat, oven-baked bread similar in quality to pizza) with olive-oil poached tuna, tomato, arugula, and olive tapenade. Again, everything was bursting with flavor. The tuna tasted of the ocean, but not in an unpleasant, fishy way. The tomato and arugula brought brightness to the sandwich, while the tapenade added just enough salt to accentuate the other flavors.
We also shared a pasta salad with perfectly cooked penne pasta, basil, grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. I loved it because the tomatoes were so red and sweet, and the mozzarella just melted in my mouth. The basil put the perfect herbaceous touch on this dish.
Eataly is astounding in itself, but it is also a quality place to eat that is near the plethora of things there are to do in this part of Manhattan.
Accessibility Rating for Eataly
I used my wheelchair to visit Eataly.
- Entryway – 4: We entered the shopping center where Eataly is located on the corner of Church Street and Liberty Street. While there are buttons to automatically open the doors, they did not work. The doors are narrower than I would have expected for a new building that should be fully ADA compliant, but I entered without difficulty. The transition from the sidewalk to the interior was smooth. There are no stairs.
- Bathroom (Accessible bathroom) – 4: The brightly lit, designated accessible bathroom has three grab bars around the toilet. It is spacious, and I was easily able to make a 180° turn within the room. The sink is very low, but it has a tall faucet with a standard length handle. Due to the low sink height, I had to sit parallel to it to be able to wash my hands.
- Walkways/Space – 3: There is an elevator that goes up to Eataly. While the aisles are largely wide and spacious, the way the stanchions were positioned at the counters (like the panini counter) made for lines that are too narrow for a wheelchair to pass through. My husband had to move them all so I could approach the counter. No staff members noticed nor offered us any help. The majority of the tables outside of the sit-down restaurants were tall, bar-height tables. There are very few standard height tables at which you can eat food from one of the quick service counters. After waiting a bit, we got a table. The tables have central pedestals. I was able to fit underneath the table easily with my feet on the floor. The interior is brightly lit, and while we were there it was noisy due to talking and background music.
Video Description: Interior of The Oculus and Eataly World Trade Center in Manhattan on September 25, 2016 – Segment 1 shows the interior of The Oculus. The all white interior has soaring ceilings formed by interlocking, massive, white, steel bars that meet at a window at the top. There is a main floor below where people are walking in all directions. Segment 2 shows the interior of Eataly with people shopping. To the right is the produce section and juice bar. Straight ahead is the wine bar and a panini counter.
- Staff – 2: If it was not for a staff member who noticed me approaching the men’s room, and then, directed me to the accessible bathroom and held the door open so I could enter, I would rate this score as a one. As mentioned before, not one staff member helped my husband move the stanchions at the panini counter, nor did any staff member offer me any help beyond the one who helped me with the bathroom. The fact that the stanchions are positioned to make such narrow lines shows that people who use mobility assistive devices are not top-of-mind for the staff.
- Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.