The Italian Job

Buon Natale, gents.

Eataly, that Colosseum-sized arena of cibo italiano from super chef Mario Batali, has arrived in River North.

Half food hall, half marketplace, it’s got everything from a Nutella bar to a white tablecloth restaurant called Baffo. And that’s just the ground level.

Upstairs: a central piazza-style wine bar surrounded by specialty stalls and eateries hawking meats, fish and cheese. The motto here: taste it before you buy it.

Man-food-wise, here are the three parts of the store you must hit:

La Birra

Stop at the Birreria brewpub first. Eataly’s in-house brewing system means year-round small-batch experimentation. On tap now: FL!P Ale, a warm beer concoction brewed with saba grape syrup, cardamom and candy ginger, then mixed with rum and egg whites. Plus: a pale ale with thyme named Gina. She’s cute.

La Macelleria

Get to know these butchers well. They’re the gatekeepers to super lean and tender cattle breeds like Razza Piemontese, as well as a dry-aged prime beef program like none other in the city.

Il Salumi

What’s an Italian specialty store without cured meats? In addition to imported delicacies like Prosciutto Toscano, Eataly also stocks hometown heroes West Loop Salumi. Stop by the cheese counter for some primo Grana Padano to pair.

Buon appetito.