Restaurant: Eataly – Manzo
Cuisine: Italian/Steak/Fine Dining
Last visited: September 11, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Gramercy/Flatiron)
Address: 200 5th Ave
Nearby subway stops: 23 St
Price Range: $30-50+
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4.5–5 based on what I tried at Manzo, 4 for Eataly
Service: 3.5 at Manzo
Ambiance: 3 for Manzo, 5 for Eataly
Overall: 3.5 for Manzo, 4 for Eataly
- Marketplace restaurant
- Chef Mario Batali (Eataly/Manzo)
- Chef Michael Toscano (Manzo)
- Modern/traditional Italian cuisine
- Formal Eataly restaurant
- Offers offal
- Ethically sourced
- Wine available
- No reservations
- Lunch 11:30am – 2:30pm
- Dinner 5pm – 10pm
- Marketplace hours: 9am-11pm
- To see Eataly’s seafood restaurant Il Pesce – see here
- To see Eataly’s Gelateria and desserts – see here
**Recommendations: Guinea Hen
This is a continuation of my experience in Eataly – see part 1 here. Just to quickly recap, Eataly is the largest artisanal Italian wine and food marketplace that was brought to New York in August 2010 from Turin, Italy. It has become a local favourite for shopping and eating offering specialty Italian foods, retail centres, a book shop, gift shop, and boutique style restaurants all under one roof.
Celebrity Chef Mario Batali from Food Network’s Iron Chef America is one of the partners and he does play a variety of roles at Eataly and each restaurant. He currently has 17 restaurants and 11 are in New York including some of his most famous Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, The Spotted Pig (where he’s a partner), and of course his newest, Eataly.
With 12 restaurants in Eataly to choose from (some being more like retail centres), I decided to go restaurant hopping. This can be a bit challenging because some are sit down restaurants with actual servers and hosts, so most people would stay at one, and “restaurant hop” at the other more retail style restaurants. I skipped the meat and cheese, salad, pizza, panini, and pasta restaurant and headed straight for the seafood. My first course was at Eataly’s seafood restaurant Il Pesce.
So what comes after seafood?
I was actually very impressed with their selection and they had everything from chicken, lamb, duck and veal, to oxtail, guanciale (cured pork jowl or unsmoked Italian bacon), tongue, livers and other offal. It felt like an Asian grocery store, but much higher end, much more expensive, and much cleaner and professional in presentation.
I decided to try out Manzo for my second dinner because salads, pastas and pizzas just seem too easily available elsewhere. Manzo is the formal fine dining restaurant at Eataly and the focus is on meats, in particular steaks. It seems to be the restaurant that Chef Batali is most involved with and the head chef is Chef Michael Toscano, who was formerly chef at Mario Batali’s other award winning and fine dining Italian restaurant in New York, Babbo Ristorante.
The location for Manzo is a bit more private and enclosed compared to the other restaurants in Eataly which are more open and central. The prices, menu, and style come off as a fine dining restaurant, but due to the fact that it’s located in a marketplace, it was a bit odd. The quality of food was there, with a nice offering of offal, but for the prices I would rather pay for an actual fine dining atmosphere. There was effort to make it more formal, but there’s only so much you can do.
In this case it was a fact that I was dining by candlelight in the same space as a grocery store. It’s really the most casual fine dining experience you’re likely to come across in New York. I guess some may consider it charming, but if I’m going to pay the same prices as Batali’s other fine dining restaurants, I’d probably just opt to go for one of those next time. So maybe pizza, pastas and salads are the way to go here? I guess I’ll have to wait for Follow Me Foodie to New York Round 2!
On the table:
- The bread was already an upgrade from Eataly’s seafood restaurant Il Pesce, which it should be since it’s more casual.
- It was made in house Focaccia and Italian bread served with even higher quality olive oil than Il Pesce. So far, so good.
- On the other hand the Italian bread was almost like sourdough, but a bit dry and the olive oil was a bit bitter and almost a tad spicy.
- The Focaccia was very soft, light and fluffy, not chewy and a bit dry with no herbs or salt. So the breads weren’t great.
- With Boar Whey Fed Pig Ragu $22
- There was a selection of appetizers and pastas and Manzo doesn’t only serve meat, although it is the main focus.
- They grated good quality hard Pecorino cheese upon serving the pasta, but it was so finely grated it was soft and feathery in texture.
- The Pappardelle pasta was the perfect thickness and firmness and it had a great bite.
- It was quite heavily sauced with a creamy fresh tomato ragu that was well seasoned, slightly sweet and acidic enough to balance the flavours.
- The sauce had a good amount of finely ground Boar Whey Fed Pig, which in simplest terms is a high quality ground pork.
- The Boar Whey Fed Pig comes from Waterloo, New York and it’s fed the whey protein leftover from making Parmigiano Raggiano. The pork is supposed to have better marbling and a mild nutty flavour. This whole process comes from the Northern part of Italy (Emilia-Romagna) and it’s how they raise the pigs used for Prosciutto di Parma.
- Even if I didn’t know these facts about Boar Whey Fed Pigs, the pasta honestly had a nuttier cheesier flavour. However, I thought it was coming from the additional Pecorino they shaved on top which had melted nicely into the hot pasta.
- The pasta tasted great, but it can be seen as simply a “ragu pappardelle”, and you really have to appreciate the Boar Whey Fed Pig in order to see the value in this dish.
- I could have used more fresh herbs as well, but there was nothing wrong with this pasta.
- With Chanterelles, Foie Gras Sugo & Summer Black Truffles $29
- Pretty much every ingredient in this menu description made me excited.
- The presentation was clean, the meat was well executed and I could taste every ingredient listed.
- It was prepared as a roulade and it would have been great if it was stuffed, but it was excellent as is.
- The centre white meat was incredibly tender and moist and it tasted sous vide.
- It was wrapped with the dark meat of the hen and a thick piece of good quality crispy and salty bacon.
- The sauce was creamy, thick, buttery and well reduced with natural pan jus, and foie gras drippings which made it so much more rich.
- The foie gras was mild, and infused into the sauce. I could taste it in the end notes and the heaviness was cut with the tang and acidity of some tomato paste or lemon.
- The creaminess came from the foie gras or perhaps some Pecorino cheese, but it wasn’t cheesy tasting.
- The sauce was fantastic with the hen which was easily seasoned, so it picked up the flavours of the foie gras and jus well.
- The chanterelles were lightly sauteed in olive oil and butter and those flavours also released nicely into the sauce.
- The green beans were overcooked, but the dish was good enough that I could overlook that.
- There was a generous amount of thinly shaved truffles which gave the dish a woody flavour, but I would have liked a drizzle of truffle oil to enhance that mushroom aspect.
- I’m not sure if foie gras drippings and truffle oil would have been over indulgent, but the combination never hurt anyone.