Beer is also the theme at Birreria, the latest Bastianich-Batali experiment in popular dining, which overlooks Madison Square Park on the roof of the building that houses their great food-hall juggernaut, Eataly. To gain entrance to this European-style beer garden, you must first pass (often very slowly, since there’s usually a line) through the store’s rather meager Italian and American beer section, down a back corridor, to a rattletrap office elevator. After a waiting period, the elevator (capacity: eight people) will take you and assorted beer lovers (business revelers, awkward dating couples, taciturn brew scholars in from Flatbush with their Viking beards) creaking slowly up to the fourteenth floor. From there, you must wander down another corridor and climb several flights of steps smelling of old beer to the restaurant itself, which consists of a long, raucously crowded bar and rows of wood tables arrayed under a slightly leaky polycarbonate roof.
Like many of the dining operations at Eataly, this one feels jerry-rigged and haphazard, until the meal arrives. The beers are competent by today’s brew-snob standards (there are ten draughts on tap and more than twenty bottles to choose from), but what really gets your attention is the food. We feasted on platters of fat, beer-hall-style sausages (try the cotechino and the bratwurst), bountiful boards of salumi, and deliciously crunchy, silver-dollar-size shiitake “fritti,” garnished with frizzled sage. For under $20, you can obtain a soft, sticky chunk of pork shoulder (sweetly braised in beer and apricots) to go with your mug of malty Eataly Pale Ale, or a buttery, crisp chicken thigh garnished with sweet summer corn. The desserts (overchilled tiramisu, a random selection of biscotti) are negligible, but chances are you’ll be so boozy and pleasantly bloated by the end of your meal that you won’t notice.Extra
Hungry groups of five or more should consider the Piatto Misto, which includes pork shoulder plus all the sausages for $90.Ideal Meal
Shiitake “fritti,” cotechino sausage, chicken or braised pork shoulder.
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