Flatiron Lunch Follow Up: Focaccia is the Best Deal at Eataly
Every Friday our man UltraClay goes south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
Eataly (on 5th Ave. and 23rd St.) has been a favorite of mine since it opened, but much more for groceries or a glass of wine than for lunch. Of all the different dining options, I’ve mostly only tried out the pizza and pasta than anything else. Let’s face it, there’s not a ton that makes it a Midtown Lunch. Still, there’s some great food here and over the weeks I’ve discovered a few really good options that fit into the ML budget and are worth seeking out.
The most obvious place to look for an ML-worthy meal is the panini counter where you can find a selection sandwiches made from the meats, cheeses and roasted items found around the rest of the shop. Sadly, I haven’t managed to get there on a day when there were porchetta sandwiches on hand, but there is always something interesting offered.
The menu typically lists four to six sandwiches, split evenly between the hot and the cold. I recently checked out the mortadella, robiola cheese and mustard. Like most of the hot panini, it was priced at $8.80 while Cold sandwiches are $5.50 and the hot four cheese is $6.80.
Oddly, the sandwich doesn’t come cut unless you ask for it, so I had to tear it apart myself. It was less than elegant, but it did show off exactly how creamy that gooey robiola is:
The meat was classic bologna, and the horseradish-scented mustard added a bitter spiciness. The cheese overflowed and dripped out of every orifice. So good.
But the real secret of Eataly is in the back. Just before you get to the pizza & pasta area with its $9 cheese-less pizzas, the bread area serves focaccia topped and baked with meats, cheeses and veggies that are as good or better than any pizza.
Priced in the $3-4 range, it’s possibly the most affordable option in the entire marketplace.
Above is the mozzarella & parmacotta, which had a crispy layer of meat, a chewy layer of cheese and a buttery olive oil laden layer of dough on top of the fluffy, airy bread.
Eataly has a million options that make me ridiculously happy to spend more than I would otherwise on a meal. The pastas and pizzas and roasts and sandwiches all have mediocre facsimiles available elsewhere for much less, but what you get here is just better. Yet, finding good food for a lot of money isn’t really a hard thing in New York. The real trick is finding something as good as the focaccia hidden in the middle of all that. If you look in the right place, you can find that at Eataly with no trouble at all.