We Visit Barilla’s New Restaurant So You Don’t Have To


For many reasons, it was probably a bad idea to eat at Academia Barilla. It looks like a poor man’s Eataly or a rich man’s Sbarro (however you want to look at it). The restaurant, which we told you about last year, is owned by the same company who manufactures DIY pasta in cardboard boxes and whose CEO may or may not be homophobic.

But I noticed the menu and the prices seem right – most of the dishes live under the $10 mark. Plus I had a serious pasta craving. My big concern was that I’d be paying $10 for a dish that I could do myself at home and probably better.


Unfortunately, all my concerns were correct. The menu features rather uninventive pasta combinations, along with pizza, salads, and paninis. There was a feeling that I had stumbled into  the front entrance of an Italian restaurant that opens up into a suburban shopping mall.


I chose two pastas in the name of science – the tagilatelle bolognese and the farfalle genovesi (pesto). I was amazed that this was one time that the food looked exactly like the sterile photos on the website, but in this case that isn’t such a great thing.


Both pastas were quite bland and the word al dente is not in the vocabulary here. The tagliatelle was soft with a watery sauce studded with flavorless chopped meat. It reminds me of sauces I would have made in my dorm room in college. If I was still an 18 year old pimply kid whose tastebuds had not yet developed, I might have been fine with this $9 plate of food. Today, not so much.


The farfalle was slightly better – it was served piping hot and had a rich creaminess. But the pasta was equally undercooked overcooked and the sauce was unrefined. And I’m not sure what the four diced tomatoes added to the dish except for some red color.

This seems like a place that serves the recipes from the back of the pasta boxes. And anybody can follow directions to make cheap pasta dishes. I’d rather just do it myself at home and save the $10. Maybe in Middle America this concept will work, but here in Midtown, we’re not buying it.

Academia Barilla, 1290 Avenue of the Americas (at 52nd Street), (646) 559-2206


  • That first pasta looks pretty terrible. I would be interested to see what the paninis look like.

  • Love the title of this ! So true. I went there and thought they can’t really mess up pasta. Boy was I wrong. It was GROSS. I would have done better at any of the delis in the area.

  • Sounds a lot more like a ‘hatin Barilla cause it’s fashionable’ review than a fair one. Bet if the same plate/price was offered by an eco-friendly kale farmer it’d have gotten the Untamed treatment.

    • Nah. It’s shit. It’s in my building, I’ve seen a couple others take one for the team. Would you pay ten dollars for boxed pasta?

  • Wait, you said the first pasta was soft, and the second pasta was “equally undercooked.” But soft pasta is overcooked. I’m confused….

  • Takeout pasta is almost by definition overcooked. I don’t know how you keep it al dente on a steam table (Is it steam tables? Reviewer doesn’t say).

  • There is no “may or may not be homophobic.” The CEO is a homophobe.

    “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family. … if the gays don’t like it they can go and eat another brand,”

    But that wasn’t bad enough. Then there’s this: “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,”

    Barilla’s pasta is made with bigotry and boiled in homopobia with hatred sauce on top.

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    The concept of fast-food pasta has been tried before without success, perhaps most notably by esteemed Italian restaurateur Tony May (SD26). His Pasta Break establishments opened and closed in the World Trade Center and Times Square.

    In addition, the notion that a food product company can automatically operate a restaurant successfully is a faulty and tenuous premise at best.

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    Just a quick Italian language lesson for you foodies: The word “panini” is the plural of “panino.” There is no such word as “paninis.”

    Similarly, it’s “cappuccino” (singular) and “cappuccini” (plural). Not “cappuccinos.” Unlike Spanish, Italian does not pluralize words with an “s.”

    OK one more: “Bruschetta” is not pronounced “broo-shetta.” It’s pronounced “broo-sketta,” and the plural is “bruschette.”

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