Finally, happened to be in the area around 5 o’clock yesterday (Wednesday) and decided today might be my day.
It surprisingly wasn’t very crowded at all… So much for first impressions.
I will start by saying that walking into this place is like walking into my version of the happiest place on earth. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like cheese, bread, and piles of cured meats?
I really do not know where to start, because there were so many things I liked and so much I do not like about this place.
It is way too hard to try it all. I only got to try a few things. You have to pick and choose your battles. Choose wisely, friend. So here’s my limited experience of the dining.
PIZZA ALLA PALA
They say it’s Roman pizza but I never had pizza like this when I was in Rome. The pizza, was some really delicious bread, crunchy on the bottom and back crust, chewy, too rustic for me to think of as pizza but enjoyed it. Margherita ($4.80) had one little speck of cheese on it (see photo), but as someone who hasn’t had carbs since May, it was a definite treat.
The brussel sprouts & pancetta with scamorza was calling me but had to make a tough choice. So I went with the sopressata fontina romana ($7.80). Spicy and smokey and salty. Made me want to go to the salami section and buy some to go.
I think La Pizza & La Pasta’s pizza style and menu will be more to my liking so I look forward to trying that.
IL PESCE CUCINA
I have nothing bad to say about this. It was an escape from the frenzy going on in the rest of Eataly. I Enjoyed it a ton. Simple menu with a few shareable apps, a few salads, a few pastas and a separate crudo menu.
I was already pretty full from my carb overload on the pizza.
So me and the wifey each got the wild catch of the day, “pesce del Mercado.” Pick the fish and one of three styles.
Black Cod prepared “Livornese,” Capers, olives, garlic, tomatoes, with extra virgin olive oil ($26). Velvety goodness was great in the briny sauce.
Wife had the Porgy ($26) prepared grilled with herbs and olive oil. It was on the salty side but it was simple deliciousness. You need some patience with the bones but it is worth it.
My wife knows how to eat this, of course I helped.
What was left reminded me of the scene in the movie ‘Airplane’
The garlic sautéed spinach was very salty.
LA PASTICCERIA & VENCHI
Hey, I already busted my carb day wide open. Why not a panna cotta with streusel and $10 worth (10 pieces?) of killer chocolate (the milk chocolate with piedmont hazel nut cream was easily my favorite. Went great with the espresso from…
Solid espresso. Wifey got The hot chocolate with whip. No place to sit. Don’t even bother trying, Get it to-go.
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF EATALY
Based on my first short visit (short? It was 2 1/2 hours)…
Once you get past the wonder of all the counters, the amazing meat and seafood at the market, the bread, salumi and fresh made mozzarella and burata the rest of it wears thin.
Seriously, there was no line to get in and we thought, “wow, it’s not that crowded.”
Did not matter.
Eataly is mass confusion. Chaos. Not the place to go and have a relaxing meal, unless you’re going to go to Il Pesce Cucina. It was the only place that seemed normal, and relaxed. I guess the same could be said of the roasted chicken station, and the salad bar as there were no lines there.
PIzza alla Pala was a perfect example. Four people in line in front of us, one with a shopping cart. It still took 20 minutes. The pizza is prepared, they should be able to grab a piece put it on on the wooden plank, and get you to the cashier who should just be ringing people up. This seemed like a theme at the other counters too.
Eataly really lacks seating. I love seeing giant wheels of reggiano everywhere, my favorite cheese, but they need to find a way to get more seats in there. People were standing around with food in hand and no place to go with it.
Worse was downstairs. Don’t bother even trying to sit. Get everything to go.
I honestly do not think with this setup that there will be a way to get rid of the chaos. It was not that busy compared to the hordes that were there early on and still it was nuts. Grand Central market is a sleepfest compared to this place.
I want to go back, just don’t know if I will have the patience. Then, again…