As with many great cuisines, Italian food is ingredients-driven. Of course, that's not to discount the importance of technique - quality ingredients can be ruined in the hands of a bad cook, but even the best chef can't turn bad produce into a great dish.
I've only been to the New York Eataly - it's fantastic; the branches in Italy must be amazing. Think of City'super or Great, only 100 times better, and devoted to Italian food.
It has wine and staple ingredients, as well as the implements needed to cook them, Italian cookbooks and a cooking school. If you're not in the mood to cook, you can buy the take-away food or eat at the store.
How to Eataly has an introduction by Oscar Farinetti, who established the chain in Turin, and text and recipes by mother and son New York-based restaurateurs Lidia and Joe Bastianich, as well as celebrity chef Mario Batali (business partner of Joe Bastianich, who, in addition to many restaurants in the United States, has Lupa, on Queen's Road Central), and Eataly partners, brothers Adam and Alex Saper.
Farinetti writes, "At Eataly, we want to challenge you to look at your food (and drink) in a different way, but we don't want to make it seem like dreary homework. We love high-quality food and drink, and we're endlessly fascinated by the stories of the people who produce it and the places where it is made and grown. Food brings people together, and eating is the one thing that unites us all …
"We're passionate about food, but equally passionate about enjoying it and deriving happiness from it. We hope you'll feel the same, and that you'll return to this book again and again to learn, to practice, and to feed not just your stomach, but your mind and your heart."
The book isn't just a collection of recipes, it also helps you learn about Italian ingredients and dining etiquette.
About olive oil, the authors write, "Olives are a fruit, and olive oil is a fresh fruit juice - and a pretty delicious one … Olive oil is like wine, in the sense that you shouldn't cook with an olive oil you wouldn't happily consume in its raw state. Splurge on the olive oil, and use it with a free hand. When you think you've added enough, drizzle on just a touch more."
When buying olive oil, they say the harvest date is important (the fresher the better) and advise on what to look out for when tasting it. There is also interesting information about fresh and dried pasta, salt cod, salumi, bread, tomatoes, cheese, seafood and meat.
Recipes (with measurements given primarily in volume, rather than by weight), include pane rustico; pizza margherita; focaccia Genovese; pear and montasio risotto; Tuscan vegetable soup; bruschetta with butternut squash and black truffle vinaigrette; beef short ribs with porcini rub and balsamic vinegar; quail in breadcrumb sauce; fried seafood; and limoncello baba.