On a particularly scorching day of our NYC trip this summer, we attempted to have lunch at Birreria, the restaurant on the rooftop of Eataly, a high-end Italian market in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. After fighting through hordes of people and drooling over shelves of scrumptious foods in the downstairs market, we took the packed elevator to the 15th floor and were told that it would be a two hour wait for lunch. Bummer. The rooftop was crowded, sure, but the space was beautiful, and so lively! Our crowd wasn’t up for the wait, but I vowed to return.
On MLK day this Monday, I got my wish! Ed and my friend Amanda both had the day off from work, so we ventured into Manhattan for some fun. After checking out a couple of galleries in Chelsea (okay, one gallery, the rest were closed), we walked to Eataly for a late lunch.
This time the hostess at the bottom of the elevator informed us that the wait was only 15 minutes (perfect!), and that we could go up to the bar and get drinks while we waited (even better!). The coolest thing about Birreria, other than that it’s on the roof of a huge building in the middle of bustling NYC, is that it’s also a brewery! Feet from where you enjoy your meal, Eataly’s brewers make unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated cask ales.
At the bar, we immediately sampled two of Birreria’s house-made beers, their thyme pale ale and panna cotta porter. The thyme in the pale ale was a bit overpowering, but the porter was incredible– rich, chocolately, and perfectly smooth. After doing a little research while writing this post, I discovered that it was actually brewed by the head brewer of Dogfish Head, using Mario Batali’s favorite panna cotta recipe. (Say whaaaaat??!!) The beer was brewed at Birreria though, for Analog-A-Go-Go, Dogfish Head’s annual vinyl swap and cask beer fest, which was held at Birreria this past year! After reading about its origin, I’m even more blown away that we got to try this beer. Not only was it absolutely delicious, but it was made in limited supply and only available on draft. So glad Ed ordered one!
I started with Radiant Pig’s Gangster Duck, an American Red Ale with a really nice hop presence. At my recommendation Amanda had Dogfish Head’s Piercing Pils (my favorite pilsner). She didn’t get much pear, but don’t worry, I kept assuring her it was there. 😉
Considering how crowded Eataly always seems to be, it came as no surprise that the food was incredible. We split a cheese plate and the “Funghi Misti,” a polenta cake covered with roasted mushrooms and radicchio and sprinkled with fontina. Weren’t my companions sweet to go vegetarian for me? The winning cheese was the ricotta fresca, a recommendation by our waiter. Typically I’m not a ricotta person, but this was a game changer. The cheese plate also came with a dish of honey and hazelnuts, and the ricotta and honey together atop fresh, crusty bread was just divine.
Of course I ordered a second beer, even though it was only like three (it’s all for you guys), and I was delighted to find Other Half on tap! I talked about the Hop’eded in my last post, so I won’t go into it again, but let me just say that it paired perfectly with the wedge of gorgonzola on our cheese plate. For me there is no better combination than hops and a strong blue cheese.
Grinning from ear to ear, we took the elevator back downstairs to grab gelato at the market before our 4 o’clock movie. Ed ordered mint chocolate chip, Amanda, banana and chocolate chunk, and I chose salted caramel. All three were delicious, and we raved about them between bites as we raced 10 blocks to the theater. Unfortunately, American Sniper had sold out just minutes before, probably while Amanda was feeding me a huge chocolate chunk in the middle of an intersection. You know what? It was totally worth it.