Friday, a friend and I were looking for a low-key spot with some healthier options for dinner. I suggested Eataly, having stricken it from my list for quite some time, unwilling to battle the crowds. Italian food to me should be relaxing. I can’t help bit feel after having been to Italy that the Italians would be with me on this one. Long lines and crowds just sounded wrong. And this Friday evening, we thankfully weren’t met by crazy crowds. We did however have to continually be on the lookout for seating, with most being crammed communal tables or bar countertops. We did later see some seating upstairs that we’d missed. Perhaps it’s less crowded?
We started off at the veggie station, where we were tempted by the fritto misto, seasonal vegetables fried in extra virgin olive oil. We ended up going with the verdure alla piastra, which was warm vegetables and farro salad in a Nebbiolo vinaigrette. At $18, it was on the expensive end for a vegetable plate – although others on the menu (like the fritto misto) were more expensive at $21 a plate.
Next, we took a seat at their pasta station, which also meant sitting facing the pizza oven. The pizzas looked quite good, ranging from more basic options to the likes of the Salsicciotta (tomato sauce, smoked provola cheese, mushrooms, neopolitan sausage, and fresh basil). We chose instead though to go with the Pasta alla Norma. It was lasagna with roasted eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella. It managed to pull off something few places can – a light lasagna.
One of the most interesting things to me about Eataly is their accompanying market, where you can buy all of the ingredients used in their dishes. There’s an extensive meat counter, fancy cheeses, fresh pastas of all variety (Need squid ink fettucine? They’ve got you covered.), even fresh focaccia that you can either purchase separately or in sandwich form. Interesting concept, which is how my friend walked away with the grain used for the farro salad. At about $25 each, it was a pricey meal for what we had. Will I be back often? Likely not. But I will be back at least once for that pizza. And perhaps to track down their gelato…
Eataly – 200 Fifth Avenue (at 23rd Street) – 212.229.2560