My food-reviewing alter ego is Gastro Intestelini, whom you may recall wrote up this 1995 review of South San Francisco dining spots. He would have been in heaven at New York City’s EATALY, which as I understand it is a gastronomic luxe farmer’s market/restaurant complex undertaking by someone named Mario Batali, whom I’m told is a cook or something. I went there on this week’s business trip because I’d read that a coalition of Italian craft brewers, and DOGFISH HEAD BREWING’s own Sam Calagione, were involved in this as well. Good food, good drink – what could go wrong, right?
Well, not much, outside of the astronomical, expense account-busting food prices. A dessert of sheep’s milk ricotta cheese with honey and truffle oil. What would you pay? Oh I don’t know – how about the $35 they were asking? Polenta with an egg and a couple pieces of truffle? Do I hear $40? I had a delicious “Frito Misto”, which unfortunately has nothing to do with Fritos, for a comparably pauper-like fee of $25. The restaurants themselves are broken up by Italian cuisine variant, so we were in “pesce”, fish, seated very close to the “bier” section. Ah, bier. As promised, the only beers available for purchase, both with your meals and for take-away, were from all the big and small names of Italian craft brewing – and Dogfish Head. Not a bad set of beers to choose from, and I walked out of this place with some new ones for my suitcase.
The one I tried out at Eataly was from BIRRIFICIO LE BALADIN, or as we’d call ‘em in the States, “Baladin Brewing”. This brewer also brews up sodas, and our waiter brought my bottled beer BALADIN ISAAC over to me with a big glass of ice, and got started pouring before I screamed in horror. WTF!!??! I informed him that it was a beer I’d ordered, and he sheepishly went and got me the “proper glassware”, which you can see pictured here. The beer? It is a malty, honey-flavored witbier. Predominantly, it tastes of wheat, honey, craft and attention to detail. A little bit of puckering was taking place – it’s not a Sam Adams Coastal Wheat, let’s just put it that way. But it’s good. And you should try one. Hedonist Jive gives it a 7/10.