Taking the convenience of "eating while shopping" to a new level is New York's Tuscan Square. "We're located at one of New York's most major subway stops, on the concourse level at Rockefeller Center, and both our store and restaurants are open until 11PM," says spokesperson Karen Collins. "Many patrons come here at night to shop and eat, things they can't do comfortably during their usual busy days."
A recreated Tuscan piazza, Tuscan Square fills two levels with a full range of eating options—from sit down prixe fixe meals for lunch or dinner to a market area of gourmet pantry items and prepared foods to go. There's an antipasto take-out bar, a wine cellar, espresso bar, an eat-in kitchen and especially for the busy worker, La Cena Toscana: a reasonably priced, simple weeknight meal offered from 5-8PM which changes daily—perfect for whisking off to home or office. And for those weekend kitchen warriors with a few hours to spare, Tuscan chefs offer changing classes on cucina rustica specialties, farro (an ancient Tuscan grain), Italian wines and cheeses, and hearty winter soups, among others.
Created by noted restaurateur Pino Luongo, Tuscan Square goes beyond food, with shopping opportunities for every aspect of "la bella vita." Tuscan-themed housewares, fashion apparel, bath and beauty accessories and book signings fill the piazza. In keeping with the ageless comfort of simplicity, the goods and foods emphasize handcrafted qualities, warm hospitality, and purity of design. Complete with winding stone staircase, cypress tree, umbrella-topped vendors' carts and a painted hillside, the square invites shoppers to relax and appreciate those simple elements of "the beautiful life."
Even if you don't live in New York, you may eventually encounter Tuscan Square. Luongo plans to expand it to 15 other locations in the U.S. And while Tuscan Square is clearly not an affordable option for every worker in every city, it does suggest that there is an inspiring alternative to the sprawling malls-of-America concept, or the barely subsisting neighborhood pod mall. In the millennium, we predict that a working person's wealth will be measured in free time; and a larger percentage of our budgets will be spent on those items which not only give us more free time, but on quality-of-life items that enhance our sense of comfort and well being. If well-prepared fresh foods, clothing of soft-natural fabrics, herbal body products and top-quality pantry essentials make us feel better enough to offset the higher prices they demand, then expect to see multiple variations on the Tuscan Square theme in the coming decade.
This page originally published as part of the electronic Gourmet Guide between 1994 and 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
This page modified February 2007
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