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Why Mario Batali Is Making Eataly’s Fanciest Restaurant More Casual

Switch-ups are apparently part of the plan

Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival Presented By Coca-Cola - A Dinner hosted by Chrissy Teigen and Mario Batali part of the Bank of America Dinner series curated by Chefs Club Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF
Melissa McCart is the editor for Eater New York.

Eataly’s Manzo in the Flatiron may have gotten rave reviews over the years, but Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali have decided to swap the white-tablecloth restaurant for more casual and more interactive dining.

Having closed last Sunday, the restaurant will reopen March 29 with “big design changes” and a focus on butchering and the bar. It’s an example of his belief that restaurant updates are necessary in today’s restaurant-media climate.

“Every five or six years,” he says, “you have to create new buzz.”

The Manzo revamp is a follow-up to the move earlier this year in opening Tapas Bar at La Sirena, with Casa Mono chef Anthony Sasso running the kitchen in Chelsea.

At the new Manzo, diners will be able to watch the goings-on in the glass-enclosed butchering room as well as choose cuts to order, much like they do in an old-fashioned butcher shop, with a say in how it’s trimmed and thickness. As the case is in a traditional butcher shop, there’s a broad price range. “Big shots can spend $130 on a Fiorentina for two,” he says, though most of the menu is under $30.

Compared to the recent Manzo menu, the day-into-dinner offerings will be simpler and lighter “but not ‘lite,’” says Batali. The menu may include a couple salads, salumi, two fish options, cacio e pepe and another pasta or two — along with various cuts of beef.

In the redesign, there’s a bigger bar, with one half for cocktails and snacks only, and the other offering the full menu. There will be nearly 30 variations on vermouth from the US and Italy, which will include tough-to-find options. Davide Pinto has put together the vermouth program and cocktails.

Batali points to the popularity of vermouth in Italy, crediting Pinto for “putting vermouth back on the map,” having opened a vermouth house in Turin a couple years ago.

Adam Hill will remain the chef de cuisine for Manzo, who works with Fitz Tallon, who has been at Eataly since it opened in 2010 and head chef since 2012. Between now and the debut, Manzo will pop-up at La Scuola Grande — the Sunday classes and events at Eataly between noon and 7 p.m. — featuring producers and menu items that may (or may not) be on the new menu.