Eataly: La Birreria
We're finally getting around to an Infatuation assessment of Eataly, and we're going to approach this by posting about each individual restaurant, rather than rating Eataly on the whole. Why? Because if we rated it as a single entity, we would be telling you to stay away from this place at all f*cking costs. But there are a select few reasons to make a trip to Eataly and risk getting in a street fight with a European tourist over your table. Is La Pizza & Pasta one of them? No. But La Verdure is. More on that another time.
La Pizza & Pasta is exactly what they say it is - a restaurant inside Eataly that specializes in Neapolitan pizzas and both fresh and dry pasta dishes. The food is perfectly decent, even pretty damn good at times. But the problem here comes down to volume. A trip to La Pizza & Pasta feels like going to eat at Terminal 7 of JFK, and having to go through Times Square on New Years Eve to get there. There are people everywhere, and this place turns out a pizza every thirty seconds to feed them all. What you end up with is a meal that you can tell would be a whole lot better if they could afford to slow down. The upside is that there are a few good pies that you really can't go wrong with, and the wine list is actually fantastic and affordable (thought you probably won't want to linger). Our suggestion is to either roll up solo and eat at the bar, or take the stuff to go. You won't walk away happy if it costs you 45 minutes and thirty dollars worth of shit you accidentally knocked off the shelves just waiting to eat here.
Spaghettone Cacio e Pepe This is a tasty pasta that Batali knows well - he has a classic version on the menu at Lupa. This one is good, but not amazing.Pasta al Forno al Pesto A very good pesto lasagna that's delicate, even despite having some heavy cheese in there. Also, pine nuts.San Marzano The classic margherita. La Pizza uses high quality Italian ingredients, and you can tell. But they make so many of these things that you can tell the love is lost. You can find better margheritas all over town.La Verace TSG Opulence. I has it. This is basically the San Marzano, but if it were made for that hilarious Russian Direct TV guy. Each ingredient is the same, but the highest of high end. Mozzarella becomes buffalo mozzarella, and the olive oil is upgraded to some special one from Sorrento. I jump in it.
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The ingredients seem to vary seasonally, but we've had a very good version with fennel and apple, and also one with radish and pickled veggies. Both benefitted highly from the use of an excellent (and no doubt very expensive) extra virgin olive oil. Also note that this will arrive at your table roughly thirty seconds after ordering.
Spicy salami on a pizza really isn't ever going to suck. This one will probably make you happy.