Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat:
Craig LaBan: Just got confirmation from Joe Bastianich via Michael Klein that an Eataly is definitely in the works for Philly. Possibly at 801 Market Street.
Reader: Eataly - excited or super excited?
Reader: Eataly! Eataly!
C.L.: Yes!! Super excited. It's always a highlight of our every-other-trip to NYC, because I can't afford to shop there more often. I've often called Di Bruno's the $50 store. Eataly's more like a $2-$300 store. Then again, if we have one closer, maybe I won't have to go so crazy. But if it's really happening in the ground floor of 801 Market St . . . home to The Inquirer, as well . . . look out. This could be dangerous.
Reader: Eataly is great, but wish it could be more like a Spanish market. Lots of food, drink, and not cost an arm and a leg. It will be a great addition though, I think.
C.L.: Spanish markets simply haven't fared as well here . . . whither Garces Trading Co? At least on that scale. You can get some good supplies at Quince Market on Girard, also Amada does sell some important ingredients . . . I bought my paella bomba rice by the way at Downtown Cheese in the Reading Terminal. There is some overlap in inventory between the Spanish and Italian importers. But if Philadelphia as a whole got to vote, I think Italian wins no contest. One other awesome source for Spanish products: La Tienda in Williamsburg, Virginia. Best Spanish import store I've ever been to. And they have a big online presence. Excellent mail-order blood sausage and chorizo.
Reader: So disappointed that Brauhaus Schmitz no longer has food concession at the Christmas Village. Current offerings are meh at best.
C.L.: Haven't been yet, but you can easily get your wurst fix now in the mob-scene comfort of the Reading Terminal Market. One of my regular stops.
Reader: I think Reading Terminal would be a lot like a great Spanish market if the liquor thing could be worked out. That is such a great place and would be even better with more drink!
C.L.: Totally agree. Been to public markets from D.C. to N.Y.C. and San Fran and a great wine bar situation would really help . . . especially near Pearl's oyster bar, which I understand has gotten a recent chef upgrade. Need to check that out.
Reader: I think the most interesting part of Eataly coming to Philly is the potential collaboration with Philly chefs, I imagine Vetri and others could bring a great Philly influence to the already outstanding concept.
C.L.: That would make sense, right? We've got a football team's worth of great Italian cooks in this town who could chime in . . . and they don't all play on Team Vetri.
Reader: Do you agree the state of Philly pizza is very exciting? Did you ever dream that the scene would be this much fun?
C.L.: I had a dream of great Philly pizza 15 years ago when I arrived . . . and I chased it and chased it but just couldn't catch it. Sorta scary, because it looked so good. And then Lombardi's opened (and closed.) And then Osteria opened the door to the Neapolitan way. And then a Tacconelli's in N.J. and then, Stella made Neapolitan pies happen for the masses, and well, we've got a slew of pizza perfectionists now. Thank God that dream finally came true.