Where else will you spot wine master Joe Bastianich, fish whisperer Dave Pasternack and orange Croc'ed Mario Batali all in one afternoon while getting tipsy? If not at a debaucherous post-service Spotted Pig party, chances are it's at Eataly, New York's classy Italian version of Walmart. Eataly may not be a bar in the strictest of terms, but Il Pesce, lodged between the butcher and the salumi section, does a bar's job with heavily poured wine glasses, preened lunchers requesting, "just a splash more," and enough sustenance to make it back to the office without appearing totally bombed on oysters and prosecco.The best route through Eataly's mobbed lunch hour is straight to the fish counter where Pasternack slices up smoked salmon from a two-foot fish belly with a razor thin knife. White wine is obligatory and the Bastianich Friulano does well with half a dozen Massachusetts oysters. "You want hot sauce with that?" Pasternack bellows. "Just plain? A woman after my own heart," he says dangling a translucent piece of salmon over the cutting board. Swordfish and yellowtail crudo are also necessary, as is a side of doughy rustic bread to soak up olive oil and the midday cocktails. At one point, a glance up and down the counter saw seven women, sipping wine and sliding bread through pools of peppered oil. Laughter rose a bit louder, the line to sit became a bit longer and unaware of the approaching 2 p.m. hour, many of them unashamedly requested, "Just a splash more." Emboldened and unready to exit the Italian field trip, several of the lunchers lingered at the gelato counter or wandered the aisles fingering bags of pasta and bottles of balsamic. Many of them did not return to the office that afternoon.
Top photo via Midtownlunch.com
Photo of Dave Pasternack via Seriouseats.com