Eataly, NYC

Winter Salad - Placed here so that Facebook will use this image instead of the silly chocolate

After my improv show at the UCB Theatre and a few celebratory drinks with the classmates and friends, I realized I was only a 13 minute walk away from Eataly.  So Andrew and I headed tipsily over to Foodie Heaven.

Right away we bought a couple of chocolates.  I'm not sure what happened to the picture of the other one.  They were tasty, but it's not an indispensable component of your Eataly experience.

Then there are just aisles and aisles of interesting products:

Caper Paté, and yes, $12.80 for 3.7 oz

kiwi jam, strawberry lemon thyme jam, etc. etc.

After looking all around and deciding that the Le Pasta menu section would be the restaurant area for us that day (I.E. the cheapest option).  There are 12 sections to this institution, and 6 of them are basically their own restaurants, though the Pizza/Pasta ones and the Pesce/Verdure ones are done together.  We put our names on the list and had an estimated 20 more minutes to look around.  Andrew broke down in hunger (or probably more accurately munchiness) and bought this:

chocolate sourdough roll

We'd already grazed a bit on several samples of delicious, freshly baked bread, so I didn't fully understand his need for this extra appetizer, but it was tasty, so who was I to argue?

It was really only 15 minutes later when we wandered back over to the hostesses, who waved us over as they had a table for us.

We were given bread with some olive oil:

We each got a fun drink, though just bottles of stuff they sell in the store.  They were still both awesome, learning experience drinks.

Andrew had the Lurizia Gazzoza (made with lemon from Amalfi (Campania)).  The waiter described it as "a lot like Sprite, but drier," and that's exactly what it was like.  And it was really nice.

I had the Baladin Spuma Nera (made with rhubarb from China).  It had this really nice tart sweet balance going on.  I mean that's rhubarb for ya, I guess, but it also kind of tasted strangely like Brandy.  I think that's what it was anyway.  I need to have some Brandy again to see if that's what I mean.  Either way, it was delicious.

Why can't big American companies just make better drinks like this?

For our antepasta, we had this winter salad: with fennel, cauliflower, celery root, and sliced Asian pears
Winter Salad $9

It was superb.  I've been having a love affair with fennel lately anyway, and then these four ingredients are all crunchy together with their own distinct flavors dancing around with each other.  If you think you don't like any of those 4 ingredients, this salad would change your mind.
And just look at this adorable little cauliflower nugget!

At this point, we pretty much dropped the facade of the entrées being assigned to one or the other of us.  If you go out to eat with me, especially at an expensive foodie destination, and don't plan on sharing everything, it's time to reevaluate our relationship (of any sort) potential.

One of our dishes was the Fettucine con Coda alla Vaccinara:
Fettucine con Coda alla Vaccinara: Homemade Roman Pasta with Oxtail Ragu $19

It was delicious.  The distance of the memory of the seminal Italian meal this one Italian grandmother spent all day cooking for the children of my family when babysitting us for a week may have been elevated over the years into some erroneous idolization, but assuming its accuracy, I'd say this pasta fell only two notches (if you will) below that meal (i.e. the best meal I've ever had, with the possible exclusion of sushi because that's a whole different ball game).  Which means it was fucking delicious, by the way.

The other dish was the Pasta al Forno con Zucca:
Pasta al Forno con Zucca: Lasagne with Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, and Pecorino Cheese $16

A pile of yumminess.  I mean, you can read the ingredients and know it's all stuff you love.  This meal was a bit more expensive than I usually aim for, but this is one of those times when it was worth it, when I didn't feel like I was being ripped off.  I was paying for amazing food instead of for the experience of acting like a yuppie.

We still needed dessert after dinner (I absolutely have to have dessert after dinner, like a cigarette after sex.  Actually, this inspires a new t-shirt design for my store).

I didn't think about it doing this, but the dessert in the Pasticceria section that looked the best was this lemon cream puff thing, which I now realize is the thing from the picture I see every time I go to Urbanspoon's webpage (at least when it's set on NYC) from when the Amuse Bouche blogger reviewed Eataly.
Lemon Cream Puff Thingy

Honestly, it's prettier than it tastes.  I mean, I guess I'm not the biggest lemon cream person though.  But also the cake part wasn't rocking my world either.  I mean, it was tasty, but

insider's view

Dough has me addicted to dense, richness when it comes to anything in this general shape or dessert vein.

My brain still called out for chocolate, but the place was closing soon, and I wasn't sure what I wanted, and we were heading toward the checkout and the door.  I still had to pay for a little gift I picked up for someone.    We asked the cashier about these little chocolate they had there for $.50, whether they were any good, explaining my chocolate problem, or else asked where I might get some chocolate fix nearby.  She was very nice and let us each just have one.

The whole experience is so much fun, and an Eataly outing is a definite must on any good NYC tour you give your out-of-towner friends and relatives.

And they have a rooftop beer garden they call Birreria now!

Eataly on Urbanspoon

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