Slideshow: Whet Your Appetite For Eataly Chicago By Checking Out Eataly NY

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To put it mildly, New York exports do not have a good track record in Chicago, as the recent closing of BLT American Brasserie demonstrates. So why are we so excited about Eataly— as in our story yesterday of their reported choice of location (the former ESPN Zone)? Well for one, Eataly's concept seems much more exportable than many, being as much retail as dining. But beyond that, Mario Batali's and Joe Bastianich's Ikea of Italian food-slash-Italian food court simply raises the bar for quality Italian ingredients in every category you can think of, and its various restaurants would each be, if not the absolute best of their type in town, at least worthy contenders that would add a first-class choice to their category and especially to an area where thousands work and eat out every day. There's no telling how precisely the New York Eataly will predict what the Chicago one will be like, but we assume they're not coming to town to dumb it down, either, and that most of what is working in New York will be replicated here. So come with us on a tour of the New York edition of Eataly in the Flatiron District, and start getting hungry for ours when it comes, most likely sometime early next year.

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