Midtown Happy Hour: La Birreria is Worth Breaking the Rules For
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so every week our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap. Mamacita is taking this week off, so Clay has stepped up to the plate.
This week’s midtown happy hour breaks some rules. First, it’s pretty clearly not in Midtown and firmly in my Flatiron Lunch coverage area, secondly, it’s not really a bargain. What it is is awesome and worth a little rule breaking to try out. When La Birreria, the new rooftop beergarden and brewery at Italian megamarket, Eataly, opened a few weeks ago, I knew I had to check it out. Beer, pork and more after the jump.
For the first week or two, this was the only look at La Birreria I got. The lines out the door were just too much for me. Then they opened for lunch a week or so back and the crowd started to balance out a bit more. I ditched work early one gorgeous afternoon and finally got there.
Beer gardens are all the rage these days for a reason. Sitting outside, in the sun with a good beer in hand and a plate full of meat is basically the best thing ever. I try to take the opportunity to enjoy it whenever I can. Being able to do it 10 blocks from my office is even better.
So, yeah, there’s beer. Good beer. Great beer even. Just not cheap beer. The brewery is a collaboration between brewers from Dogfish Head and two Italian breweries, Baladin and Del Borgo. Most of the selection of beer comes from one of the three breweries along with one or two from Sierra Nevada, Ommegang and Victory. Drafts come in test tube shaped 12 oz. tekus for the stronger beers, pints and 33 oz carafes. Most drafts are between $7 and $10. Steep, it’s true, but also really good.
Once everything is set up, La Birreria will be brewing three cask beers in house, including a thyme seasoned pale ale, a standard pale and malty, sweet brown.
Being a part of Eataly, obviously there’s going to be some good bar food there as well. On my first visit, I had the cotechino ($19), one of four sausage plates on the menu. I’ll admit, for the price, I wished I’d gotten more, but when I bit into my first bite of juicy, tender pork dipped in vaguely spicy mustard, my only question was whether I wanted to order more. The sausage is cut into slices and seared to give a slight crispness on the ends. I’m not joking when I say that writing this is making me hungry.
On a second visit, I ordered the pork shoulder ($19), which has it’s own section on the menu. Braised in beer and glazed with a sweet apricot jam, this chunk of pork is not really conducive to sharing. That’s not because it’s small, but because of the potential fork stabbings over who gets the last piece. It’s ridiculous the way that the layered pockets of meat within come apart under your fork. I thought I was eating pork belly given how juicy an soft the meat was.
More shareable are the salumi plates ($11 for one meat, $21 for a mixed plate). I’m pretty sure this was the coppa picante, but I think the pork shoulder broke something in my brain. I can’t think of anything else.
I know. I know. It’s pricey. It’s exorbitant. But it’s so good! So, have at me in the comments about how it’s overpriced and/or overhyped. By the time you read this, I’ll probably be back at La Birreria under the retractable roof eating a late lunch, drinking a beer and starting my weekend a bit early. Cheers!
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Beer, pork, under the sun.
- Some of the best pork I’ve ever had. Seriously.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It costs how much? Are you F&%!king kidding me?
La Birreria, 200 5th Avenue, 14th Floor.