We don't typically write about the many NYC beer gardens, due to the much higher presence of dudes and brewskis than actual quality food typically found in them. But this beer garden on the roof of Eataly might be the exception to that rule. In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find one with a larger variety of good things to eat, and the crowd is much more pleasant up here than in the tourist packed insanity that exists underneath it.
In fairness, La Birreria is more like a rooftop restaurant than it is a true "biergarten." It's a far more organized operation than the typical mess of community seating and standing around found at its authentic German counterparts, but as a result, the place also loses some of that beer swilling, get-drunk-with-a-stranger charm. Reservations for La Birreria are a must, though you can also stroll in unannounced and put your name on a list. Should you choose that route, expect to be quoted a 45 minute wait and invited to "take in what Eataly has to offer." For us that usually means pre-gaming with a bottle of wine and some meats and cheeses in the La Piazza section, but maybe not everyone wants to drink before they start drinking. I guess you could shop?
Once you make it upstairs, you'll enjoy a surprisingly calm environment with a varied menu of Italian food options, including the prerequisite beer garden sausage offerings. Oh and there's also beer. We're big fans of Birreria's cask conditioned house brewed ales, and there's also an extensive list of other draught and bottled options, along with some wines. That all might sound a little too fancy and put together for the average beer garden goer, but at the end of the day, that might be why we like it. We'll take good food and a laid back atmosphere over polka bands any day.
In case you didn't already get into some meats and cheeses downstairs in La Piazza, you can still do so on the roof. They have a lot of the same options at La Birreria, and it's safe to say that regardless of what selections you make, it's all going to be fresh and delicious.
You know you're in a different kind of place when the salad at a beer garden is incredible. This salad of apple, fennel, cabbage, smoked prosciutto, and lemon vinaigrette got our meal off to a great start. For $10, this was a nicely sized, and is a must order.
There's an entire section of the menu dedicated to mushrooms, and you want to be a part of it. People freak out over the fried shiitakes, but we urge you to get the braised king oyster mushrooms with broccoli rabe and poached egg. It rules.
Sliced pork sausage inspired by Northern Italy. This will successfully satisfy your bratwurst cravings.
Of all things we've had at Birerria, this was the thing we wouldn't order again. Although it sounded great - chicken thigh with a Tuscan bread and tomato salad - it doesn't quite come together on the plate.
This is a beer-braised pork shoulder with celery, cucumber, persimmon, and mustard vinaigrette, and it's amazing. You might need to order two.