Celebrity chef Mario Batali has a lot of love for Boston's food scene, which isn't a surprise considering he's opened a few ventures in the Hub over the years.
"The Chew" co-host is back in the city this week for the 2017 Inbound conference in the Seaport, so expect him to stop by some of his favorite restaurants while he's in town. Batali tells Metro that he's a big fan of New England cuisine, emphasizing its focus on fresh, "farm to table" ingredients.
Batai praises the region's abundance of quality seafoods like shellfish, cod and lobsters, as well as its offerings of meat and cheeses. The decorated chef believes that Boston area restaurants consistently raise their game to meet the ever-changing needs of picky foodies.
"I go to a bunch of restaurants out there and each one is constantly just blowing my mind with how great it is," Batali says. "Boston has a different way of looking at food, and yet [Bostonians] are as entirely as intense scrutinizers as New Yorkers are, as Chicagoans are, as anywhere. It’s one of the most important gastronomic cities."
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As for where you can find Batali on a night out in Boston, he usually likes to get his grub on while feasting with the city's collection of culinary stars.
"I usually hang out with Michael Schlow or Barbara Lynch, so I go to one of their restaurants every time," Batali says. "I went to Oleana the last time, and I know that’s not new, but it was so well done. Just the whole town has me crazed."
Batali also notes that he's in love with the work being done by fellow area chefs Ken Oringer, Jasper White and Lydia Shire.
"I love Jasper [White’s] place. I just think it’s fantastic," he says. "Lydia Shire continues to bamboozle me with her crazy creativity and her smartness. Just everything around there is really great."
Of course, Batali can't resist grabbing a bite at Eataly Boston, which he opened at the Prudential Center last year. The chef praises the marketplace's raw bar and fish offerings, plus the grilled, Italian options at Terra.
"I love the Barbara Lynch raw bar and the partnerships with the different producers of the fish," he says. "Also, this is our first, real trial with the super hot grill thing going on up in Terra. Our chef Dan Bazzinotti and executive chef Jason Neve have done such a great job in capturing the flavor of the region, and yet making it very specifically Italian."
Batali adds that the goal of Eataly Boston is to highlight the best of Italian cuisine by using the freshest, local ingredients.
"This is how the Italians would cook their food if they lived in Boston or anywhere in New England," he says. "We treat all the food with that same simplicity, but we get to use all the local ingredients, which makes the food different than any part of Italy, and yet, Italians would recognize it as being very Italian."