Since I waxed on at some length in a recent blog post about Eataly, it’s only fair to tell you what’s happened to the new Toronto hotspot. The patient lineups outside are long gone. Indeed, you can arrive at 6 p.m. and get a table for two in La Pizza e La Pasta. You can even make an online reservation, something that was not permitted in the early days. These are all advancements from the point of view of the customer.
Other changes, however, are not so welcome. During the opening, staff was buttressed by top people from other Eatalys who were on hand to help. One woman, who usually worked in the U.S., was a hostess, taking names and texting people an hour later when their table was available. Despite the pressure, she was cheerful and efficient. As another employee served diners it was apparent that he knew a lot about food and was happy to share his knowledge.
I’ve been back to Eataly with various people three or four times since and it’s all been downhill since that November opening. The professionals have gone back to their respective homes. The hostess at the desk doesn’t seem happy to see you; you’re just a couple of bodies to process. Wait staff is glum; no one comes to check whether or not you like your meal a few minutes after it’s been served.
On Sunday night, a new low was reached. We’d ordered a Buffalotta to share. The pizza arrived quickly, almost too quickly. The server was gone before I realized it was cold. I caught the server’s attention and asked for a reheat. She took it away and returned saying that’s how it’s served. They prepare the crust and then layer on the prosciutto, arugula and basil, cold and uncooked. Whatever heat there had been in the crust had dissipated. Foolishly, we ate it, and suffered the consequences the next morning. Some specialty items in the food hall are worth the trip, but we won’t be going back to eat a meal anytime soon.