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the sweet scoop
the sweet scoop
Since opening in late 2010, Flatiron’s massive Italian food emporium, Eataly, has become one of the city’s most tempting destinations. Still somehow, as if aisles upon aisles of specialty items, fresh produce and six full-service restaurants wasn’t alluring enough, Batali and the Bastianichs have upped the ante even further by debuting a 4,500-sq. foot brewery and restaurant on the roof.
Far from your typical brews and brats beer garden, Birreria is a rooftop oasis featuring artisanal house-crafted ales and a menu blending both the locally sourced and imported gourmet foods that Eataly is famous for. After an elevator ride to the 14th floor, large gleaming copper beer tanks give way to a 150-seat deck furnished with wooden tables, a lengthy bar and plenty of room to hang out. A retractable dome kept wet weather from raining on our parade as we dug into a filling red wine vinaigrette-dressed insalata composed of wax beans, roasted onion, potatoes, asparagus and capers.
Detailing farm and purveyor meat sources, the menu boasts flavorful grilled dishes like fat-marbled Donley Ranch skirt steak elevated by salsa verde, and a succulent salt-encrusted Pennsylvania chicken thigh with sweet corn, purslane stalks and olive-almond pesto sauce (the night’s clear standout). If you’re craving more traditional beer garden fare, don’t overlook the housemade sausages, especially a savory and sweet Emilia Romagna-inspired ground pork link spiced with warm clove and nutmeg. Vegetarians will delight in hearty mushroom entrées. We sampled whole roasted maitakes atop a bed of rich pecorino sardo crema, and sides like braised cabbage and pickled vegetables are excellent accompaniments.
To wash it all down, choose from three unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated ales brewed on-site, nine Italian and American draft microbrews, more than 30 bottled beers and select wines on tap. Plan ahead to snag a coveted dinner reservation, then sit back, relax and say Ciao to a roof-raising good time.
Chef Dave Martin knows how to play ball. As demonstrated when the Top Chef alum debuted his meatball-centric menu to an eager crowd during this weekend’s preview of The Meatball Factory, which officially opens on Tuesday, October 25th.
Commanding the corner of East 14th Street and 2nd Avenue, this warm, rustic bistro boasts a cozy interior with dark wooden tables, exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling windows and a sizable bar area. The menu of upscale comfort food centers around an extensive selection of house-ground gourmet meatballs, including flavorful rounds of braised pork, short ribs, chorizo, duck, lamb, turkey and veggie. Proteins pair up with eight savory sauces, such as green curry peanut, black truffle cream, spiced up vodka and fire roasted marinara, and fully customizable combos allow diners to curb any meaty craving—you can have your balls on a challah roll, over housemade pasta or crispy, thin-crust pizza, or poutine-style atop fresh cut Idaho fries coated in melted cheese.
So, what makes The Meatball Factory stand out? “Simple, high quality, fun food that’s affordable,” Martin shared. Nothing on the menu is over $15 and no bottle of wine is priced over $40. Yet, the quality and flavors are top notch. Take the Turducken meatball, made from a house blend of La Frieda turkey, Bell & Evans chicken, Hudson Valley Farms duck confit, sage & allspice. Martin prides himself on prime sourcing and uses his own line of handcrafted rubs, sauces and seasonings to tastefully elevate each dish.
While meatballs are the star here, you’ll also find dairy-free and gluten-free options, seasonal salads, vegetable sides, and a tempting array of sweet treats and ice cream sundaes to round out the menu. The ‘Thai This’ pizza—a mouthwatering medley of ground Turducken, luscious green curry peanut sauce, Thai chiles and Grana Padano sprinkled over delicate cracker dough—is a must-try. For the ultimate indulgence, order up Dave’s World Famous Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese—a decadent breadcrumb-topped infusion of slow cooked cream, shallots, brandy, sherry, truffles, fontina, thyme and oregano. And make sure not to overlook the shaker of red chili spiced agave on your table. When splashed onto entrées, it adds complexity, depth and quickly becomes addicting. To wash it all down, belly up to the bar for reasonably priced vino, along with 18 taps and 20 bottles of craft beer.
With an evident passion for his craft, chef Martin masterfully pairs new flavors with comfort food staples, creating dishes that you’ll want to savor again and again. And since The Meatball Factory rolls out endless choices and combinations aplenty, be sure to come hungry and prepare to have a ball.
The Meatball Factory, 231 Second Avenue at 14th Street, 212.260.8015