The weather here for the past few months? New York Shitty.
Freezing temps in April is downright cruel but last weekend, sunshine finally poured forth from the heavens for a brief moment.
Translation = all fresco dining.
Birreria at Eataly has been on my hit list for a while. When it first opened, the wait times were insane and getting a table was out of the question during peak times so I didn't even bother. Luckily, I snagged a 7pm table this past Monday night before it got too crowded. Michelle met me at the back of the Eataly store and we checked in with the host. After a claustrophobic ride up in the cramped elevator, we climbed up a few more stairs to see something we haven't seen in a while. A huge crowd of people….eating outside….with no jackets...in the sun?
As we made our way to our table, we passed by diverse groups - there was the crowd of younger analysts in blue and pink Brooks Brothers shirts, pounding steins at the bar. There were a few 2-tops of SATC girlfriends catching up on gossip, and then a few families with younger kids running around in circles and laughing. One thing they had in common: happy smiles due to the sun and fresh air.
This was our first time dining here so we let the server select a light beer. The Lurisia Pale Ale was your typical 6% ABV but we split one cause we’re lightweights. With that said, I’m getting my own glass next time because it was the best beer I ever had (I never drink beer). Crisp, fruity and a sweet aftertaste.
When the waiter asked what we wanted, we figured they were known for their sausages so we ordered the Probusto ($21) (pork & beef sausage with braised red cabbage & speck) to start. The plate comes with two huge links on top of cabbage and a streak of mustard. The cabbage was pickled and paired well with the fatty juicy sausage.
Would also recommend a side of brussels sprouts with pancetta ($5). Liked the nice char on the brussels and smokiness of the pancetta. The dark-colored sauce was slightly sweet and, kid you not, tasted like peanut butter to me. Never had that flavor combo before with brussels but it worked for me.
Our second dish was highly rated everywhere and the idea of eating braised pork so tender that it would disintegrate was too hard to resist. Unfortunately, the Maiale alla Birra ($22) (beer-braised pork shoulder, apricot glazed, with celery root, local apples & mustard vinaigrette) was a huge bust. As soon as the plate was set down, you could tell it was overcooked.
This observation became fact after the pork was cut open. Dry strands of pork sat there motionless like a pile of twine sitting unused in your garage. The corner pieces were petrified pieces of driftwood devoid of any moisture. The apple and celery root slaw was the highlight but it wasn’t enough to salvage the rest.
I’m not one to send dishes back but this was warranted. There's no reason to pay $25 of your hard-earned money to eat something that isn’t as good as it can be. What came back in its place wasn’t good. It was great. I’m no sausage connoisseur but it blows away the sausage I had at the Standard Biergarten.
The dish was called Cotechino ($23) (pork sausage served with turnips, krauti & Bauer’s mustard) and it came with five thick slices of sausage. Even juicier and fatty than the Probusto because this was 100% pork. It retained its juices even after a 20 minute conversation with Michelle about how awesome her wedding was.
The dinner ended on a funny note. Sitting next to us the whole night was a comedienne who I recognized immediately but couldn't place the name until I got home (Michaela Watkins). I remembered her from her stint on SNL, New Girl, Key & Peele and a film called “In A World” where she played a woman who deals with the emotional impact of infidelity on her husband. At the end of the meal, we got up from our seats and I turned to her and asked, “Are you a Hollywood actress? You look like a familiar celebrity!”
She lol-ed with her girlfriend and was flattered. “Oh thank you sweetheart, my husband seems to think so too. But no, I’m not an actress!”
My celebrity radar is usually accurate. Head bowed in shame, I slinked away with Michelle and did the one thing that would offer redemption. We walked up to Shake Shack and split The Concrete Jungle (vanilla custard, fudge sauce, bananas, and peanut butter sauce) and ate it on a park bench while trying to avoid spilling it on our pants. We failed.
Great for groups: The rooftop space is expansive and has many tables. Great setting for a first date, happy hour with coworkers, and families visiting from out of town. Reservations are recommended especially for larger groups. Great ambiance
What to Get: You can't come here without trying a beer from their vast selection. The sausages are great for sharing (still reliving my first bite of the Cotechino and washing it down with a cold glass of Lurisia Pale Ale). My only gripe is paying $20+ for sausage; wish it was priced around $12-$15. On my next visit, I will try their lamb chops and mushrooms with whipped burrata and beets.
Service: Our server wasn't the most attentive and left us alone for extended periods of time without refilling the water. To be fair, he had a large section to cover. He was nice about the returned dish and didn't make a fuss.