Yesterday Cookie Monster and I stopped into Eataly for dinner because we were in the area and decided to tried our luck at the Pesce counter. Surprise of all surprises – there was no wait at all. The past 4-5 times we stopped by in the last year or so there is always a wait of at least 45 minutes. Glory!
Not a huge menu, a raw bar selection and there are alot of specials for the day. But we figured things are probably as fresh as they can get so there’s no need for frills or an extensive menu…when the food is fresh, the ingredients speak for itself.
We both started with a special appetizer of the day: sauteed soft shell crab with a spring onion.
The crab was a lot smaller than I expected but it was flavorful. I did enjoy the tiny thing. Cookie Monster never had a sauteed soft shell crab and I think it slightly grossed him out lol. He’s used to having the entire crab hidden under a layer of fried batter.
For main course, he got the special filet of the day – the spotted bass with hen of the wood mushrooms:
The fish is flaky and quite mild. I thought this was quite good albeit small in portion.
The server said this fish was comparable to branzino in that it is full flavored. That it was but it was almost to the point of gamey for me? I can’t explain it…but the fish had a very very strong after taste to it and it wasn’t exactly a fishy taste. I can’t say I enjoyed the flavor. It’s like having steak and then eating lamb. The two proteins just taste different. Lamb is a bit gamier. Anyways for what it’s worth, the fish was well cooked and well seasoned and the skin had a nice crispiness to it. The other thing about this plate was, I knew this fish would have bones but it had alot. My finger was up at my mouth with every bite fishing them out. Kind of an annoyance. Would have been nice if Eately had perhaps deboned it at least?
Since the porgy came with no side, we got a side of the swiss chard sauteed in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.
The swiss chard had been sitting too long in heat or something because it was completely overcooked. It was so soft and mushy. If I hadn’t known it was swiss chard, I would have thought it was escarole which cooks down really easy really fast. Swiss chard is a much heftier, leafy green so to get it to this consistency means it was sitting for awhile. Lucky for me, I like my veggies overcooked so this was fine but for those that do not, be warned.
This meal was good but not amazing. We were a bit surprised. For what you get, it’s not cheap. This entire meal with one glass of wine each cost around $160. Don’t get me wrong…a quick glimpse of this blog and it’s apparent I don’t exactly cringe at expensive dinners but I just didn’t think the price tag lived up to the food in this case- plain and simple. I don’t know how happy we would have been had we tacked on a 45 minute wait on top of that. Luckily that was not the case.
So Eately was fine but the pesce section is not something we will be running back to anytime soon. I’d like to try the cheese and cured meats section however.
Il Pesce, Eataly, 200 5th Avenue, New York, NY