by Chrysa Smith

Let’s face it. Unless you walk the labyrinth of concrete, glass and steel that is NYC on a daily basis, there’s always something new. But what’s new that I might be tempted to spend another $25 in parking to see? Eataly.

That’s right. It took a year of planning and a trip into NYC yesterday to catch the urban holiday spirit (it was wonderful!) with longtime friend and fellow ‘middle ager’ Carol. Among other things, she told me about a place that I might just love–Eataly. I think she’s onto something. I googled it, and it sounds like what I had expected the Chelsea Market to be—a big, fat foodie paradise—-with enough to see, do and experience to last longer than it takes to eat a NY deli sandwich.

Eataly is the brainchild of Mario Batali and the Bastianich Family (You know Mama Lidia—everyone’s Italian nona), among others. It takes up 50,000 square feet of building space in the old toy building on 5th Avenue & 23rd Street (my old stomping grounds). There are shops in which to taste and buy, bistros in which to taste and drink, cooking classes and even a rooftop beer garden. It’s open daily–and late (another gripe about Chelsea Market) with enough pizzerias, pasticcerias, gelaterias and more to keep you full and exploring for awhile.

If you go, from PA or NJ, consider driving to Jersey City. It was a great route into NYC at this cold time of year—and a little less costly than mutliple train or bus tickets for a group. Park at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, walk across the street and catch the PATH train to 33rd St. ($1.75/trip). Get off at the 23rd Street Station, exit to the street and poof!, there you are. Parking at the mall was $10 for the 6 hours or so that I was there yesterday; a far cry and lots less agida than crossing the Hudson. If you’ve got a group, split the $10 parking fee and have yourself some nice espresson at the Caffe–teria (hee, hee).

Check it all out on: If you get there first, drop a line and give me the scoop. If I beat you to it, you know you’ll hear all about it right here.