eately2.jpgCome spring, Whole Foods is going to have some stiff competition on their uptown turf when a new Italian gourmet supermarket opens their first U.S. location on 48th Street. The wildly successful enterprise is called Eataly; since the flagship store opened last January in Turin, 1.5 million customers have flocked there for gourmet food, wine, dining and an array of culinary classes. By bringing his big-tent concept to America, owner Oscar Farinetti hopes to “stupefy New Yorkers” with imported Italian cheese, fresh-baked bread, cured meats, packaged foods, beer and wine. (Vegetables will be from local sources and the beef will be sacrificed by Piedmontese cattle in New Jersey, but most everything else will be from the Boot.)

The Times’s description of the Turin store makes for a mouth-watering read: wood burning ovens make pizza and bread, a subterranean aging cellar bulges with myriad cheeses, a wine bar serves tapas alongside a full-service restaurant. The 10,000-square-foot New York branch – to be located in the new Centria building – will be smaller, with no fresh fish, limited dining and no planned educational offerings. But denizens of the meatpacking district had better save their appetites: Farinetti aims to stupefy that ‘hood as well, with a full-scale replica of the massive Turin store in 2011.

Photo of Eately cheese from NF’s Flickr.