Eataly Boston will open its doors Nov. 29, but you can almost smell the food cooking already.
The high-end Italian food megastore has installed its signature gold-domed pizza ovens, imported directly from Naples. Vast expanses of marble countertop are nearly set to serve up homemade gelato, panini and truffle-scented dishes.
And a seafood restaurant in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef and local restaurateur Barbara Lynch is underway.
"I love it. I so much love it," said Nicola Farinetti, the Italian-born chief executive of Eataly in the United States, who took a reporter on a tour of the new emporium Wednesday. "We're creating the atmosphere, writing the poetry and I think we've really nailed it."
Eataly Boston is due to open the week after Thanksgiving -- and construction is far from complete -- but Farinetti offered a first glimpse of what's to come in the 45,000 square foot space that spans three floors of the Prudential Center. Hint: it includes 58,000 pounds of marble.
Some may wonder what exactly Eataly is: A food court? A retail store? A food bazaar? It's all of those.
Eataly will be home to four restaurants, sell a vast selection of imported Italian pastas, sauces, cheese and groceries. About half of the vast floor space will be dedicated to groceries, including produce. It will be home to a bakery with a giant wood-burning oven, a butcher's counter, fresh fish counter, cheese-maker, pasta maker and multiple wine bars.
Coffee and panini shops will be strategically situated at the Boylston Street and mall entrances, to draw guests in.
Eataly Boston is the company's 35th outpost to open worldwide. Its U.S. operation, which now includes two locations in New York City, are run by Farinetti in partnership with celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich, and her son Joseph Bastianich.
Any visit to Eataly, Farinetti said, should begin at the "piazza" or central square, an area deep within the marketplace ringed by barfronts serving salami and cheese, wine by the glass, and raw seafood. Here, he envisions people meeting, socializing and talking about where to go and what to eat next.
Yet several features will make Eataly Boston unique from other locations. For instance, the Boston location will emphasize fresh fish or "pesce" because of the city's proximity to the ocean and historic connection to the fishing industry.
Like other Eatalys, Boston's will feature a restaurant called Il Pesce, but what will make its location unique is Lynch's control over the menu and her influence over the fish sourcing.
Lynch, whose Boston restaurants include such fine dining ventures such as No. 9 Park and Menton, said in an interview that she plans to use the opportunity to bring simple, unfussy Italian food to diners. She said she finished a draft of the menu a few weeks ago, describing it as "Mario [Batali] style, no foam, no nothing, straight-up Italian."
"This is what I love," Lynch said. "It's nothing mind-blowing. It's simple, identifiable and [expletive deleted] delicious."
To get people to try more adventurous types of fish that are more sustainable, the 32-year-old Farinetti said he will also experiment for the first time with a "sustainability" program, a sort of rewards card for people who buy fresh fish and meals prepared with lesser known types of fish that are locally caught.
The company was founded in Italy less than a decade ago, by his father, Oscar, who sold his successful chain of electronics stores.
While each Eataly location typically has a distinctive marquee restaurant, Farinetti said he was not ready to disclose details about a restaurant planned for the third floor of Eataly, and added it would not open in November.
One secret he would drop about the Boston location: A cannoli cart.
Making cannoli is not as easy as one might think, he added, if you care about the ingredients.
"Making things simply," he said, "can be very difficult."