For those who have trouble settling on a destination to dine, Eataly is not a place that helps the decision-making process. While there is no wrong way to do the Italian labyrinth that is Eataly, I tend to be drawn toward the more casual Birreria on the roof, which has a selection of insanely well-priced cheese (a plate of 7 for $17) and beer that will impress any aficionado. In the summer months, the views, drinks, and food, make for an ideal setting to waste away an afternoon or evening wishing you were really in Italy, but happy that you at least settled in New York.
The much more formal Manzo’s pasta dishes like the Agnolotti with fior di caprino, robiolia, and pesto, and the Gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce and creamy ricotta are a bit too safe and simple for the price. When divine Italian food is in order, venture elsewhere, because it’s in the casual marketplace settings that Eataly truly excels.
Truly authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas can be ordered at La Pizza & La Pasta, and though I honestly never want to share my Verace pizza, with hearty tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala straight from Napoli, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil from Sorrento, sometimes it’s only fair to give others a taste. Prices here are also much more reasonable than Manzo for a quality that’s just the same.
For the quickest take-away lunch, however, I’m always at the Panini counter. The Il Casara with housemade mozzarella, basil oil, sea salt, and yellow heirloom tomatoes is the perfect sandwich to take out into Madison Square Park just across the street as you relish the romanticism of a crispy and airy baguette with salty bites of tomato and moist, fresh cheese. If gelato and paninis aren’t fitting the right mood, shopping at the cheese counter and bingeing on a block of grana padano is a cheap Plan C. I may or may not be known to have done that more than once, but there are just simply no regrets when it comes to Eataly.