A week since it's wildly successful opening, Eataly is still a Chicago hotspot. Many people may not know that I'm a mom, a blogger and an Italian teacher for Chicago public schools.  So you can imagine that this Chicago Italian teacher's delight to check out Eataly, which opened to much fanfare last week. Finally I can find my cherished Italian treats right here in Chicago! Here are seven Italian delights I recommend at Chicago's newest emporium of all things Italian.

1. Italian hot cocoa with fresh panna.

Available at Eataly's coffee bar, you must give Italian hot cocoa a try. Rich and pudding-like in consistency, it has a dark chocolate flavor that is guaranteed to warm your heart and your soul. Topped with fresh panna - whipping cream without the cloying sweetness - this Italian treat makes for the perfect winter afternoon pick-me-up.

2. Pizza baked in a wood-burning oven.

As far as I'm concerned, you haven't lived until you've eaten a *real* Italian pizza margherita, topped with fresh, creamy mozzarella and sweet San Marzano tomatoes, and baked in a wood-fired oven. Eataly has the real deal - even the bakers have a Neapolitan accent!

3. Fresh mozzarella.

One of the things I miss most about Italy is the fresh mozzarella. Until Eataly, I had never been able to find quality, tasty fresh mozzarella here in the U.S. Eataly makes its fresh mozzarella on site, right before your eyes. On my first visit to Eataly Chicago, I pretty much filled my belly to the brim with fresh mozzarella - it's that good.

4. A truly grand cheese selection.

Eataly's cheese counter has it all. Wheels upon wheels of Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano set my heart fluttering. Then again, when I was three years old I got my finger stuck in a parmigiano cheese dispenser, so I may be a bit biased. But trust me, you'll want to spend some time perusing the cheeses here.


5. Foccaccia, fresh from the oven.

The bakery department at Eataly churns out freshly baked foccacias that are both airy and robust with olive oil. The beautiful selection of carefully crafted breads and foccaccias is a feast for the eyes and the belly. 

6. Panettone and Pandoro.

Looking for a unique hostess gift that doubles as dessert or a breakfast treat with coffee and comes beautifully wrapped? Eataly has a huge selection of Pannettone and Pandoro, traditional Italian Christmas cakes.

7. Cappuccino art.

There is something ever so sweet about having your cappuccino topped with a heart. It's the little things - and Italians excel at making the little things in life a little more out of this world.