BOSTON — In a city where residents were told the British were coming, Boston is now on alert for an Italian invasion.
A cooking, shopping, eating space called Eataly is about to open its doors on Boylston Street.
"I'm excited every time I come to Boston, just for the chance, because I think it's one of the most delicious and original cities in America," celebrity chef Mario Batali said. "That we're opening an Eataly triples it."
It's a bite of Italian culture under one enormous roof.
There are restaurants, a cafe, a butcher, a fish monger, cooking classes. It's a wine-dine-shop hybrid.
Just don't call it a grocery store.
“It's a lot more than just a grocery store. It is about learning. It is about eating. It is about shopping,” explained Boston restaurateur Barbara Lynch.
Lynch is chef collaborator for Eataly's Il Pesce.
“This, I have to say is one of the best things that could happen to Boston,” said Lynch.
But some have said the plan is too ambitious. It’s a space that needs many employees in a city that’s hungry for restaurant workers.
“We're all going to take a hit. We're already starving for employees. But we're going through this growth period in Boston in general. There are like five restaurants a week opening,” said Lynch.
She’s seen the trend in her seven restaurants, but says the problem will level off.
Lynch says the opening won’t have a negative impact on Boston's neighborhood restaurants. She says Eataly already has locations in several world-class cities and it's time for the hub.
“I know what's coming into the city. I see a plan for 2030. They're going to do fabulous, and if they weren't going to do fabulous, they wouldn't come here. They're smart, you know? They're smart businessmen,” Lynch said.
“I love this town. I love its gastronomic history. I love its real political history. And I just love being a big part of it, and now we are,” Batali said.
Eataly opens at 800 Boylston Street on Nov. 29.