La Birreria @ Eataly: A Brew with a View
by Andrea Guglielmino
La Birreria @ Eataly on a (rare) slow night
With a never-ending rich (and often expensive) selection of authentic Italian spots, New York is
constantly celebrating the "Made In Italy" concept. It’s no surprise to me, then, that the talk of
the town this summer is the newly-opened La Birreria @ Eataly – a brewpub on the
rooftop of the massive, one-year old Italian supermarket owned by a partnership that includes such
food celebrities as Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich.
And how could I have resisted going to see if all the hype is justified? So excited and full of
patriotism, my girlfriend and I decided to visit the "Italian mangia Mecca" that is Eataly.
Soon enough, we realized our promised land has a way of getting on your nerves. A failed first
attempt on a Thursday night (the line for the elevator to the roof was insanely long) caused us to
decide to come back on a Monday. While still very busy (hey, this is one of NYC's "hot spots"), we
decided to put our name down and gulp the thirty to forty-five minute wait. The good thing, though,
is that if you’re a foodie, waiting at Eataly is a breeze.
The bottom line is that you are in the temple of Italian food – a veritable "Circus Maximus" whose
50,000 square feet of space is packed with every Italian food and wine product under the sun. We
worked up an appetite strolling the aisles of Tuscan pecorino, Sicilian chocolate and
prosciutto di San Daniele. Not to mention the handmade pastas (who knew that the artisanal
procedure of extruding paste through bronze - not plastic - dies could generate so many different
varieties?), organic rice (Italy has one of the most specialized and sophisticated rice growing
techniques in the world) and cheeses in endless forms, shapes and tastes… If it wasn't for my
girlfriend who kept on checking with the hostess, I would have probably missed the call to our table!
And, thus, before we knew it, it was time to take the elevator to the rooftop beer garden where, after
another short stop at the bar to sip our first brew, we made it to our table.
A mug of beer hits the spot on a hot summer night
The Birreria's minimal decor is composed primarily of casks of beer, red chairs and wooden tables while
the menu, stamped on sheets of heavy brown paper, focuses its selection on beer-forward food inspired
by rustic Northern Italian tradition, accompanied by an acceptable range of house made and noteworthy
beers. My Eataly Thyme Pale Ale was good and structured, and it helped me to relax and settle into the
After all that window-shopping for food, we were ready to order! We went straight for the excellent
selection of Italian
cheeses and cold
cuts, followed by a coriander-spiked probusto sausage (so savory and juicy; as good as
nonna makes!) with a side of delicious sauerkraut. The other entree, whole roasted Maitake
mushrooms on a bed of Pecorino Sardo and asparagus, was good although I wouldn't have minded
if the chef had pumped up the size a bit more (next time, I'll order 2 of them!).
As a first visit, it was nice to get the lowdown on this new NYC "hot spot." I may let the buzz cool
down before my next visit, but at least when I get the urge to sip a good Italian brew, I know just
where to go.
There's no wait at all if you reserve one of our great beer tastings at Florence's one and only artisanal microbrewery in the characteristic
Oltrarno quarter. Tour the facility to learn about the brewing process and then sample three of their all-natural,
unpasteurized beers with a platter of various cheeses, sliced meats and Italian bruschette. Buon appetito!
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A typical Sant'Eustachio Coffee display
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Zucchini Blossoms & Scamorza Cheese
(fiori di zucca alla scamorza)
Fiori di zucca alla scamorza
- 1 large egg, separated
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- Fine sea salt
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 30 large zucchini blossoms, stems and pistils removed
- 2 ounces scamorza cheese, cut into 60 (¼ -inch) cubes
- 6 flat anchovy fillets, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
- Olive oil for frying
Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer
In a large bowl, stir together egg yolk, flour and generous pinch salt. Add wine by the ¼ cupful,
stirring between additions to fully incorporate.
In a dry, clean bowl, whisk egg white to soft peaks then gently but thoroughly fold into flour
mixture. Let batter rest for 20 minutes.
Fill each blossom with 2 cubes of cheese and 1 or 2 pieces of anchovy, gently pressing petals to enclose filling.
In a deep skillet, heat 1 inch oil to 360°. Holding petals closed and working quickly in batches of four,
dip the blossoms, one at a time, in batter, coating blossoms completely and letting excess batter drip off.
Fry coated blossoms in the oil, turning with a slotted spoon, until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes (adjust
heat as necessary to keep oil around 360°).
Using slotted spoon, transfer fried blossoms to paper towels to drain; sprinkle with salt.
Let cool slightly before serving. Serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of La Cucina Italiana -
since 1929 Italy's premier food and cooking magazine.