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The Early Word on Eataly's Rooftop Beer Haven Birreria

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La Birreria, the highly anticipated rooftop restaurant and beer haven atop Eataly finally opened earlier this month. And due to the recent spate of warm weather, plenty of people have made the trip up the Eataly elevator to check it out. Click through to read about the hits, the misses, the loogies, and more.

The Great News: NYC Tastes hits up the soft opening and pretty much loves it: "Besides a small hiccup of not enough menus to go around I thought everything came off pretty flawless for a soft opening. The staff were absolutely phenomenal. Everyone was in such a great mood and so ready to help with recommendations. The rays were streaming through the roof and a nice breeze came through the top making it the perfect evening weather. Birreria is not cheap however- my 8.5 oz Isaac Beer was $10 and our Salume plate was $11. Birreria is also not a beer garden- it's a restaurant first and foremost. A place to enjoy some fantastic beers you might not see elsewhere and have some delicious grub. That being said we enjoyed ourselves and I see myself coming back very soon and very often." [NYC Tastes]

The Bad News Rant: A tipster wrote in about their experience on opening night at La Birreria, and while he said the space, beer and food was lovely, he had some issues with the way the management handled seating and was saddened that he didn't see Mario there, and that it wasn't actually a beer garden. "Ok, so I don't want to crap all over La Bireria after being open one night, but this concept is seriously askew. For starters it is not a beer garden at all, not even close. It is a restaurant on the roof... [On the wait] I said I didn't understand since there was only 30 people in line ahead of me, doesn't the roof hold more than 30 people. I was then informed that they needed to stagger the seating to properly pace the kitchen. I said, its a beer garden, I just want to go up and order beers, and maybe some food later. "It's really more of a restaurant than a beer garden" I was told and that you "really can't just sit at a table and drink beer." I said well if its like a restaurant, can't I just go and stand at the bar and order a beer while I wait for my table, "no you can't do that." I then asked if I didn't want to wait for a table at all can I just sit at the bar and have a beer, surely the bar had seats. He was perplexed and had to ask a manager what to do if someone didn't want a table. He comes back and says "sure that should only be about 15 minutes." I still didn't understand why I just couldn't go up, but since it was their first day I said ok... [When Joe Bastianich arrives] Instead of worrying about the front of house, Joe decides that one of the taps on the phony wine cask was crooked and asks for a wrench to try and fix it (clearly the least of this place's opening night problems). After it was fixed he taste the wine (white wine) and spits it into the bar sink right in front of me and exclaims that its not cold... He proceeds to taste and spit each of the casks wines out. Now I know spitting a wine after tasting isn't seen as necessarily bad etiquette, but I am at a bar eating their food and didn't really appreciate Joe hocking loogies right in front of me... What bothers me the most, is that I was really hoping for a Mario Batali beer garden. A place where its first come, first serve with long communal tables that I can drink beer all night at and order small snacks as we got hungry. What we got was just another restaurant. There are already 5 restaurants on the ground floor of Eataly, did we really need one more on the roof?" [Eater Tipline]

The Go At Midnight News: Yelper Tina T. also had some issues with the wait, so she actually left, but then came back and was glad she did: "At midnight, we walked right in without a wait and the whole place was pretty quiet by then--just a few tables of people and some groups at the bar. Our waiter was very attentive and helpful in suggesting beers to try and also what kind of cheese to add to our cheese plate. The Tellagio is AMAZING if you like hard cheeses... When the cheeses actually arrived, we were shocked that they were literally only one slice of each kind of cheese, which turned out to be more than enough. But three slices of cheese for $11? They also gave us complimentary sour dough bread, which was delicious... I had a great time with my group of friends and we ended up staying until closing. The space was beautiful and we liked the decor and set up. Definitely will go back (maybe try some of the other things on their menu), but will only go later at night when all the after-work people and tourists go home." [Yelp]

The Great Vibe, Meh Food News: Flickr user Guessica likes it okay: "Once we made it past the ridiculous line, we finally got upstairs. The atmosphere was great (rooftop w/ retractable roof, great music, etc.) and service was great, as was the beer. The food was meh. The cheese plate selection was a good but a bit meager considering all the options downstairs. Everything that came out of the kitchen was just okay. The portobello mushroom dish was bland, unappealingly plated and a total ripoff. The pork chop was way, way too peppery and dry. The chicken thigh dish was alright. I'll give the kitchen time, but they have a long way to go before I'd come back for the food. I am curious to go back once the rooftop brewing has begun, though." [Flickr]

The Great News: Another Yelper, Matt C., loved his time at La Birreria, calling it a definite go-to for the summer. Also, he did see Batali unlike our Tipster. He writes: "Since it was opening weekend Batali was there, so we specifically requested a table that would allow us to stare awkwardly at him. The hostess politely obliged... As for the beer, we tried the Eataly Thyme Pale Ale and the Eataly Indian Brown Ale, both very good. For the food, we had the shrimp (served w/ heads on) and the pork chop. Shrimp was flavorful but a little over-salted, and the pork chop was one of the best I've had... So is there anything bad about the place? Well like the rest of Eataly, it's fairly expensive for what you get - the cask beers are $10 a pint and the portions of the food were a little lacking for the price. But the quality of both the beer and the food is pretty high, so just know what you're getting into and you'll have a great time. They're going to start taking group reservations in a few weeks and then I think this place will become a summer happy hour favorite of mine." [Yelp]


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