FLATIRON — Eataly may have already won the hearts of foodies across the city, but now it’s hoping to lure its biggest catch: President Barack Obama.
The gourmet food emporium, which has been credited with breathing new culinary life into the Flatiron District, has launched a campaign to persuade Obama to celebrate his 50th birthday at Eataly with a Barolo toast.
"Dear President, before 2011 comes to a close, we would be honored to host you at Eataly. We propose a toast to your 50th year with a 1961 Barolo," read large signs posted in the eatery’s windows and throughout the store.
"President, all that’s missing is you," they say.
Obama, who was born in 1961, will be celebrating his 50th birthday on Aug. 4.
The new campaign is the brainchild of Eataly Manager Nicola Farinetti, who said that during its first year in business, Eataly has hosted everyone from local politicians to big-name actors. But they've never hosted Obama, despite the president's numerous trips to the city for fundraising events.
"The only very important person that hadn't come was the president," said Farinetti, the son of Eataly creator Oscar Farinetti. Realizing that reaching Obama directly was "probably impossible," the pair decided to try a word-of-mouth campaign they hope will encourage a visit.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the president might oblige.
But if he does, Farinetti said he hopes to lead a quick tour of the market and show Obama how the business, which employs nearly 700 workers, was able to launch and thrive despite the recession.
"We would like to show him what we did," said Farinetti.
To mark the occasion, Farinetti has chosen a bottle of $1,180-a-bottle Borgogno Barolo red vintage wine from his family's vineyard in Piedmont, Italy, which is available for purchase at the Eataly Vino store.
"We figured that the 50th year would be a perfect opportunity to open that [bottle]," Farinetti said.
Barolo, made exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape, has been called “the King of Wines” for centuries, according to Eataly Vino manager Niccolo Salvadori, who said the wine is smooth, with hints of big, red berries, dried cranberries and licorice.
1961 was "one of the greatest years in the history of Barolo," he said.
The president, whose first state dinner was prepared by Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem, is no stranger the city's highest-profile eateries. He chose locavore destination Blue Hill when he and First Lady Michelle Obama enjoyed a romantic date night in the city in 2009, and has also dined at Harlem's storied Sylvia's.
Farinetti said he doesn't mind waiting for the president, even if he can't come for his birthday celebration.
"I'm very patient," he said with a smile. "The wine is going to be good for another 20 years, at least."