By Kimberley Coughlin
Just north of the Flatiron Building lies a new New York landmark - the Italian food mecca that is known as Eataly. Owned by Mario Batali and mother-son team Lydia and Joe Bastianich, the market has an overwhelming selection of food items: freshly made pasta and bread, meat, fish, olive oil and vinegar, sauces and pantry items, delicious desserts, coffee and beverages, and even fresh truffles. When you first walk in Eataly can be a bit overwhelming; the space, which is more than 50,000 square feet, serves as home to a wine shop, a school, event spaces, as well as several restaurants that call the bustling main floor their home. If you plan on going in with an empty stomach, you had best have a game plan. If you are unfamiliar with the layout and enter on the Fifth Avenue side the delicious aromas of espresso and sweets will assault you and you’ll be dreaming of dessert before you’ve even had antipasti. By the time you make your way to the center you won’t know in which delicious direction you should turn. Allow me to help you here: go up. On the fifteenth floor of the building, beneath a retractable roof, is a simple and welcoming space for eating, drinking and enjoying the company of friends and family, known as Birreria. From the Eataly website: “Birreria is a rooftop restaurant and brewery that offers the highest quality beer and food under the stars and skyline. In collaboration with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, Teo Musso of Baladin and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra Del Borgo, Eataly's Head Brewer is brewing unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated Cask Ales just 30 feet from where you sit, eat and drink. The menu conjures the family style feasts of Italy influenced by Austria and Germany.” This past weekend my S.O. and I welcomed a friend from out of town and we had time to kill before heading to Gotham Comedy Club in Chelsea. Since we were in the area and we are always hungry, we figured that Eataly was the perfect place to spend our spare time. After a nickel tour of the market we took a quick elevator ride up to Birreria. We started with a cheese plate, which came with a plate of honey for dipping, and some fresh bread with olive oil. For the main course my S.O. ordered the pork shoulder and our friend and I went with the lamb chops. When our meals arrived we briefly debated who had ordered better, but the bottom line was that there were no losers. Both cuts of meat were simply seasoned and cooked to perfection. You know when people tell you that something is going to melt in your mouth? Let’s go with that - my lamb chop was like a savory s'more. It was so delectable that briefly contemplated gnawing on the bones. So if you find yourself in Manhattan (or Chicago; the second U.S.-based location opened last month) — and hungry, I highly recommend that you make your way to Eataly... ... and start at the top.