402 W 43rd St, New York, NY | Directions 1003640.759197 -73.992634
Mon noon-2:30 pm, 5-10:30 pm, Tues-Sat noon-2:30 pm, 5-11:30 pm, Sun 4:30-10:30 pm
Neighborhoods: Clinton, Midtown
There are basically three great seafood restaurants in New York: Marea, Le Bernardin, and Esca, and the latter is by far the most comfortable and casual of the three -- not to mention the cheapest. Chef David Pasternack's relationship with local fishermen is legendary, and he has mastered the art of getting out of the way. There is no simpler, or better, seafood anywhere.
Jumped the Shark – I remember eating tasty crudo in a lively location, but that just is not so anymore. Maybe the chef was away in the Hamptons yesterday, but the food is just unacceptable at this point. The best part of my meal was the San Pellegrino water. If you're craving crudo - head to The John Dory to dine with the celeb set, eat some tasty seafood and raise your glass and have a good time.
TERRIBLE! and overpriced – We went here for a birthday, expecting great things. Restaurant was packed, so we assumed it was going to be good. First of all, the portions are very small so you need to order a few to be full. We started with the tuna carpaccio, which was disgusting. It was drenched in olive oil and salt, with no seasoning. The tuna tasted very fishy, which is uncharacteristic for tuna. The pasta course was delicious, but we each only had 4 gnocchi. Main entree, everyone in the party ordered a fish dish. they were all bad. Mine once again came drenched in oil and salt. Maybe this is the chef's one and only way of preparation. But for $100 a head, there were no flavors. I could have done a better job myself. Also, it said that the whole fishes would be filleted for you (to take out the bones). We all found bones, and when we complained, the hostess was obnoxious and said well it's not perfect.
come full – When you go to Esca, bring two things. A sack lunch, and the deed to your house. $530 for 4 people. barely any booze. Way over priced. For what we spent, we could have gone to Patsy's three times. I am not going back. I had to stop at McDonalds. Waste of Money, and a waste of nice Saturday evening.
What's with the intimidation tactics? – I was looking forward to experiencing Esca for the first time and took a good friend there for her birthday. At first we appreciated the atmosphere and what seemed at first like attentive service, though we were a little put off by the loud rock music, which seemed at odds with the atmosphere. Unfortunately, when our entrees arrived, my friend was brought the wrong order: a fish neither of us never heard of and would never order. When we called the waitress back to the table, she was quickly intercepted by the maitre'de, who implied that we were being untruthful about not ordering this fish. (Hmm...maybe the loud music kept our waitress from heaing us??) I politely insisted I knew what I had ordered, and requested they take place the wrong dish and bring back the correct one. The Maitre'de pressured us to taste the wrong dish, and argued with me to keep this rather than send it back. The exchange became slightly intimidating but I refused to keep a dish we hadn't ordered, and never received an apology from the maitre'de for the mistake. I am sympathetic to waitstaff and understand mistakes happen...but not to restaurants who have their maitre'de's behave like thugs. That's just fishy.
Below Average at Best!! – First off, I was celebrating my girlfriends' father's 60th birthday and since he loves this kind of food and knows the reputation that Mario Batali has, we wanted to make it a memorable experience. Our waiter was very good and he was well versed in the menu and preparations as well as recommending some of his favorite dishes. Overall, the service was very good and not intrusive. As far as the food was concerned, being a seasoned chef myself, I was expecting MORE!! Not so much in the portions, but in the flavors and execution of the dishes themselves. I started off with the raw Pink Snapper, it was too lemony, but very fresh!! My main course was the Marlin, it was so bland and boring with the bland lentils. My girlfriend had the Porcini salad, it was skimpy and the flavors were muddled with the cheese. She had the Lobster pasta which states it is one pound of meat!! That is a joke! The pasta was too al dente. Her father tried the grilled Polipo(Octopus). It was very tender and I liked it very much. He had the pasta with Sea Urchin and Crab Meat but he did not even eat half. He disliked it and said that the pasta was way too al dente and you couldn't taste the sea urchin. It was taken off the check and he was comped a dessert as well!! I thought that was a nice touch!! His girlfriend had the Seafood soup which was flavorful and had a hint of heat. Her main course was the monkfish with the root vegetables. It looked quite plain and boring and the taste was under seasoned as well. The desserts were ok nothing special. Overall, I was disappointed with the meal, I was expecting better, especially from a Batali restaurant!!
I would like to try Babbo, but I am a little reticent about dropping a ton of money on mediocre food. I feel that Batali needs to review his recipes and techniques with his kitchen staff. From what I have experienced, it shows that things are falling through the cracks!
memorable,enjoyable dining experience – I would like to give five stars, but the service could have been just a little better. Don't get me wrong - the service was very good, but if I notice things like empty water glasses during a meal that averages several hundred dollar per person and involves many courses, I tend to think there's room for improvement. Otherwise, this was a memorable, enjoyable dining experience and I would go back without hesitation.
for special occasions – Every once in a while, you go out and spend way too much money on a dinner. Big date, anniversary, Valentine's Day, whatever the occassion, if you're gonna blw a couple hundred dollars, do it in style. Esca is the upscale restaurant of NY. Great food, everything is excellent and servings are decent sized. Cost is pretty high, but for those special moments, why not spend them with other stuffed shirts. Definitely go there to experience the finer things in life. When I win the lotto, I'll eat there more than once a year.
Stupid New Yorkers. – The hype behind most of the Batalli restaurants is just that; hype. The food is always mediocre, the servers are bitter, the chefs are tired of cooking the same meals day in and day out, the hostess wants to go home so she does not want to seat you and to them you are just one filthy rich New York snob or a dumb tourist who read the reviews on Citysearch.. What else would you expect?
Esca is not the best seafood the city has to offer. I could probably buy better tuna at the fish market and cook it myself and make better carpaccio from a Betty Crocker cook book. In other words New Yorkers stop being such guppies and build some gusto and stay away from the mainstream garbage and if you enjoy being in the mainstream, and it doesn't turn out the way you wish, shut up and move on, instead of ranting on about the employees of the restaurant.
Risky for the $$$$ – Somewhat disappointing first visit; overall from a food and service perspective it was inconsistent enough that we would not try dining here again considering the price point. Food - apps of octopus and anchovies were solid. Entrees however, dining companion's fish was overseasoned and my side of morels/favas came out mushy (morels), brown (favas) and also overseasoned. I have cooked in what some may consider "lesser" restaurants and the chefs there would have not let that go out of the kitchen the way it looked, let alone tasted. Considering that was half my entree it really overshadowed the meal (and I left it untouched after the first bite) Service - while the servers/bussers were attentive, our waiter was hurried and the only time we interacted was when he initially dropped the menu. Our orders were taken by a hostess who realized we were not being tended to in a timely fashion. Upon leaving the restaurant only a busser was gracious enough to wish us a good night and thank us while we walked by the hostesses unacknowledged. A trifling thing to some, yes, but it's nice to know one's patronage is appreciated.
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