Walking up the steps to Eataly's brand-spankin'-new (and yes, long-awaited) rooftop beer garden, Birreria, is a little like that iconic scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The initial peek into this seemingly elusive world inspires that same kind of pinch-yourself-twice, is-this-really-real moment of amused wonderment and awe.
Except here, in the place of a chocolate waterfall, you find a compact one-room windowed brewery, its shiny new stills glistening and churning from their 14-stories-up perch. Instead of an edible candy playground there is one of a different variety — a sleek open-air patio in the shadow of the Flatiron and Empire State buildings where craft beer geeks will soon set up camp in contented boozy bliss. You half expect the red T-shirt-clad crew to break out into an Oompa-Loompa-like song (in Italian, of course) swinging beer glasses in hand. Kidding.
All jokes aside, the "world of pure imagination" theme does hold true. This is, after all, Italian craft beer we're talking about. Free of the restrictions placed on the country's better known alcoholic beverage — wine — the young upstart world of craft beer has emerged as a platform for creative expression and experimentation. You can find a beer made with the resin of an Ethiopian tree, another crafted using tobacco (not legal in the U.S., sorry).
True to form, Eataly has secured some big names to spearhead the project. The biggest names in the business actually — Birra Baladin's Teo Musso and Birra del Borgo's Leonardo Di Vincenzo — as well as a local star of no insignificant reputation, Dogfish Head Brewery's Sam Calagione. The trio's combined efforts have produced what is sure to be the city's must-hit drinking destination of the summer (cue the "Aw man, just when the lines at Eataly were dying down" refrains).
Slated to officially open to the public this Friday, June 3rd, we got a behind-the-scenes tour and early taste of Birreria's exciting brews and rustic Italian fare. And it seems, as was the case with the opening of Eataly last September, it will have been more than worth the wait.
The trip to Eataly is a wonderful experience through the best of Italy in the heart of New York. The shopping trip through this 50,000 foot store is a fabulous journey of the best food you can get when visiting Italy in person. Cheeses, fish, meats, breads, deserts, sauces and some extraordinary pasta's one cannot get anyplace in the country. Then you can have the chance to actually eat the fabulous foods, cured meats, fresh fish, killer pizza and the best foccacia you will ever eat with some great wines to wash it all down. It's worth the trip to Fifth Avenue and 23rd Streets to see this Italian food emporium and have a wonderful food experience. Go for it!Read More
In The New York Times' Dining Section today Sam Sifton appraises the latest outpost of the Bastianich-Batali empire. If you haven't yet visited Eataly, their Italian resto-megamart in the Flatiron District, the Pasticceria is a rewarding place to start.
Torta di Nocciole di Costiglio.
Strategize how you want to attack the orb-shaped flourless hazelnut cake ($4.80). It stands there like some dessert version of the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Torta di Nocciole di Costiglio (below) has a crunchy hazelnut shell and smooth, fudgy chocolate in the middle— think super-sized Ferrero Rocher. Wonderful in between sips of bitter espresso.
Cross-section of the Babà al Limoncello.
The glistening amber glaze that coats the Babà al Limoncello is enough to make you do a double-take ($5.80). It beckons. Your fork does that thing where it just sinks in, tines absorbed by pastry that has been well-soaked with the lemon liquor. Then the big reveal: a tangy, lemon cream center. Stuff this in the face of the hype-hater and go, “see, I told you so.”
The aerated cream in this white chocolate and hazelnut Bavarian cake is so super-smooth and light you wonder how it retains the dome. It has all the hazelnut flavor without the texture, concealing a thin chocolate sponge cake and white chocolate ganache at the center ($5.80).
Tiramisu su Torronato.
The Tiramisu su Torronato had Lidia all a-twitter. And with good reason— it’s a lovely tiramisu ($5.80). A layer of liqueur-soaked cake with more of that airy cream, here studded with hazelnuts, and on either end a thin sheet of dark chocolate.
Tortina di Mele Renette.
This Apple Tart ($4.80) was the only real fumble. Don’t bite in expecting something akin to pound cake, this is more dry, with a soft-sablé kind of texture. The apple flavor is lacking too— hunt and you might find a few stray pieces. Hold out for another Babà or Diabella.Read More