Visit Italy Without Leaving the Bay: Eataly Silicon Valley

If you’re an Italophile, or simply one who loves quality cuisine, Eataly Silicon Valley is your mecca. Located within Westfield Valley Fair shopping mall in San Jose, the Italian food emporium features within its 45,000 square feet three restaurants, a “to-go” counter stocked with fresh panini, pizza, and pastry, and a marketplace that fulfills every shopping list necessity. One of 50 such retailers throughout 15 countries, Eataly features authentic Italian food production, sales, dining, and Italian food related educational activities, making even the most casual visit a “meravigliosa” experience. Here’s how I spent a recent afternoon at Eataly Silicon Valley:

Terra dining room
Arrosticini d’Agnello, grilled Abruzzo-style lamb skewers, served on toasted housemade sourdough bread

A sunny day called for al fresco dining, and Terra was the answer. Terra’s greenery-filled dining room spilled out onto a rooftop terrace (one of the few in San Jose) where canopied tables shaded warm winter rays. Amongst other things deliciosa, Terra is known for its cocktail program and 30 Italian wines by the glass. The “build your own” gin and tonic option is popular, and features six gins and a variety of tonics, herbs, and fruit to garnish. Yet, it was the special pomegranate and prosecco cocktail that drew my eye, providing a festive start to a meal of Insalata di Barbabietole (little gems, beets, and grapefruit), followed by Bombette spiedini (Pugliese-style pork shoulder stuffed with provolone cooked over Terra’s wood burning grill) and a main course of black truffle tagliatelle. A Lavazza cappuccino topped things off before my tour of Eataly’s wine department, Eataly Vino, and its 1,200 bottles of premium Italian wines, carefully sourced from the 20 regions of Italy.

Eataly Vino features 1,200 bottles of premium Italian wines

Located on the 2nd floor, Eataly Vino is like a museum of Italian wines, each arranged by region, and each varietal and colorful label seductively luring both oenophiles and wine neophytes. Even if not a wine drinker or lover, it’s worth a peek just to marvel at the range of wines that Italy produces. Helpful staff can help decipher your preferred tastes, and point you in the direction of something you’re sure to love. My request to check out older vintages led to the temperature-controlled Riserva Room, where storied and aged bottles (i.e. verticals of Sassicaia and Ornellaia) are carefully stored. Whether a valued collectible or a humble Chianti, bottles can be purchased and then enjoyed at adjacent La Piazza, serving fresh crudo, house made breads and salumi and formaggi. Corkage is free here on Saturday nights, when you can enjoy jazz tunes from 5 – 8pm.

With my post-meal, sweet tooth begging for a sugary treat, I wandered to Eataly’s first floor, lured by Counters and Cafes’ line-up of pastries; fruit-topped pasticcini, quadratino al cioccolato, cream puffs, fruttino al lampone, cornetti filled with pistachio cream, and bestselling Tiramisù della Nonna, among other treats including velvety gelati made by in-house gelato chef Patrizia Pasqualetti. A second-generation gelato master, Pasqualetti uses the highest quality ingredients possible in her flavors such as banana, Tuscan melon, mango, and pistachio. Her creations are also sold by the pint for quick and easy carry-out.

My hand rolled cavatelli. Photo, Fran Miller

In Italian tradition, it was time for another coffee, and Counters and Cafes’ Caffe Lavazza provided just the right jolt to propel me to my pasta making class where, with instruction from Eataly’s culinary director, I crafted semolina based cavatelli. The repetition of rolling the small pieces of dough across the striated pasta board was nearly meditative and I was proud of the pasta pile I produced. A walk through the adjacent marketplace led me to additional provisions for that night’s dinner: Cosi Com’e whole peeled 100% Italian tomatoes, Monograno Felicetti spaghetti, and a loaf of seeded sourdough from Eataly’s La Panetteria.

Eataly’s Marketplace features more than 10,000 different products imported from Italy’s 20 distinct regions such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coffee, chocolate, sauces and so much more. More than 550 types of cheeses and cured meats are on display. You’ll find fresh burrata and house made mozzarella, as well as freshly baked and ready-to-go items such as eggplant parmigiana and lasagna. A fresh produce section, a dairy case, and a small home goods section make Eataly’s Marketplace truly a one-stop shop for groceries.

Later, at home that night, at the earlier direction of Eataly’s culinary director, I boiled my cavatelli until it floated, heated my tomatoes over a low flame with a bit of garlic and oregano, poured it over my drained pasta, cut a slice of seeded sourdough, and poured a glass of an Eataly Vino-recommended Barolo, while toasting my fine day at Eataly with a “Viva Italia!” I might not have been in Italy, but it was perhaps the next best thing.

Photos courtesy of Eataly Silicon Valley, except where noted

Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.