Why Come Here? Rooftop dining with a selection of beers you won’t find anywhere else
Right Amount for 2? 2 Entrees
Birreria is a year round open-air eating/drinking space on the roof of Mario Batali’s gastrotemple/tourist-trap known as Eataly. But what kind of place Birreria is supposed to be exactly baffled me when I visited. Is it a restaurant with a layout and selection of ales and food typically found at a beer garden? Or is it a beer garden with a large, waiter-service and entrees required- dining section? Regardless of which you’re looking for, you’ll likely find yourself left with something to be desired at Birreria.
For those in search of a beer garden, there is a lengthy selection of cask ales brewed onsite as well as many unusual (albeit pricey) German and Belgian style saisons and ales. This includes my first foray into Ancient Ales – those which use ancient brewing recipes and are aged in very old barrels. You’re not alone if you think that sounds more like a marketing gimmick than sound brewing technique, although the one our waiter recommended was quite complex and flavorful (I highly recommend using the knowledgeable staff to navigate the beer list) But before you get too excited about trying ancient and rare brews, note the space reserved for those who are “just drinking” is about 20% of the total area and perpetually packed (often with waits up to an hour). If you wish to enjoy the rest of the space, you must be seated with waiter service and order at least one entree per person.
This last bit may lead you to believe Birreria is more restaurant than beer garden. To be fair, the Eataly website refers to it as a “rooftop restaurant and brewery.” Which is all well and good until you see the limited “drinking food” menu of meats, cheeses, salads with a small selection of very heavy entrees like pork shoulder and $20 sausages. To put it simply, it’s not the type of food you want to make a meal out of often unless you’re going down the suicide-by-heart-attack route. Which is really too bad because the space and beer selection make it a place I’d like to visit more often. But at least for now Mario doesn’t need a bunch of regulars on his roof. He’s doing a fine job packing it with every tourist in New York.
Portabello The burrata and candied apricots sold this one for me. But the earthy portabello didn’t seem to be the right compliment for it’s sweet and salty friends. Then again, I remembered I don’t love portabellos to begin with.
Birreria @ Eataly
200 Fifth Avenue (23rd St.)
New York, NY