The Bay Area is getting yet another big food hall: Eataly, the massively influential Italian food emporium and tourist bait nonpareil, will open its first Bay Area location in 2021, at San Jose’s Westfield Valley Fair mall. The 51,000-square-foot temple to all (edible) things Italian — dubbed Eataly Silicon Valley — will be part of the mall’s ongoing $1.1 billion renovation project, according to a press release the company sent out this week.
If you’ve ever been to any of Eataly’s Italian superstores, you know the drill: Each location is a sprawling food and beverage complex that spans multiple restaurants, bars, and shops, with individual stations where customers might buy cured meats, or fresh seafood, or olive oil. The flagship location, in New York’s Flatiron District, has, at various points, had a Nutella bar and a rooftop beer garden; it routinely hosts cooking classes with celebrity chefs like Lidia Bastianich. It’s home to no fewer than six different restaurants.
All signs point toward a similar approach at the new San Jose iteration, though an Eataly spokesperson didn’t respond to Eater SF’s inquiry into the particular mix of offerings that are in the works.
For much of Eataly’s ten-year history in the US, the Italian-American celebrity chef Mario Batali was the face of the operation, though the company fully severed all ties with the disgraced chef earlier this year, about two years after news of Batali’s alleged sexual misconduct first came to light.
Meanwhile, San Francisco — which in recent years has been the landing spot for the “Eataly of Chinese food” (China Live) and the “Eataly of French food” (ONE65) — is, for its part, notably missing from the list of city sites for the actual Eataly, which has eight other North American locations. In 2017, when he was still very much the face of the company, a pre-ouster Batali told Robb Report, “We would love to do San Francisco, but where are you going to find 60,000 square feet in San Francisco unless they gave us all of Ghirardelli Square? And they’re not giving us all of Ghirardelli Square!”
With a giant, newly renovated mall at its disposal — even if it’s a mall that’ll soon charge visitors for parking — Eataly won’t have any shortage of space in San Jose. What remains to be seen is whether the local crowd will have an appetite for the whole slew of Italian food products and restaurants — and the full-on spectacle — that the mega-market has to offer.