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Posted by Marshall on 05/31/2009
After reading the mixed reviews, I was a bit concerned about making this the restaurant for my girlfriend's birthday. At the end of the day it was a nice place to eat due to its lovely staff, wonderful decor and tasty food (most of it, that is). One of the dishes, the final fish item on the tasting menu was good for me, but when I saw my girlfriend scowl at hers, I was puzzled. We have a similar palate and tend to detect subtleties in our food well. I loved mine, but after trying hers I understood better. Hers was spoiled. I would have thought the management would have a better purchasing director. I suppose no restaurant is perfect, but after reading the positives and the negatives, Esca came in right in the middle - good in many aspects, but missing in others. Because it is a high end restaurant, there were some phenomenal aspects to this restaurant, but after having such a lovely evening scarred by a piece of rotten fish, I had to let those other folks out there that this restaurant is not at top as others in the same class. I have told my friends the experience was memorable, but I have not recommended it to them. Take that for what its worth. Good luck.
Posted by anonymous on 05/16/2009
The portion was tiny, the price was huge, and the food was tasteless. As to the service, I can only assume our waitress lost her job at McDonald's and found her proper place at Esca. Fortunately, I had good company so I only felt ripped-off instead of mugged.
Posted by major foodie on 04/16/2009
The cook at Esca rides Batali's coat tails. He is completely inflexible to change his dishes in any way to please his paying customer - and in this economy! Clearly, given the other reviews, allowing some change might improve his food. Great outdoor space and restaurant concept, not such a great cook.
Posted by Anonymous on 02/09/2009
My Mom was visiting from out of town, so I brought her here on a Saturday afternoon for lunch. We both enjoy seafood, and were excited to try this restaurant. We ordered a salad, calamari appetizer, spaghetti with crab, and halibut. We enjoyed the halibut, but everything else was really bland and boring. It was definitely not worth over $100!
Posted by Jetheart on 10/16/2008
After a Broadway show we (a party of 5) wanted to eat Italian and to spend a little extra at this high rated Zagat restaurant, but we beyond disappointed. The gnocci's were dry, heavy and tasteless, the tomato sauce would have come better out of a can. 2 of us had the crispy seafood platter, which was good looking, but all the delicacies were deep-fried dead and tasted the same. The salmon was fair and the fish soup was acceptable. A side dish of five Italian vegetable were mistreated and uninteresting. The only upside was a great somalier who gave good advice on wine, and some kind but somewhat slow waiters. The ambiance is lovely - but forget about coming for the food.
Posted by Anonymous in Hell's Kitchen on 09/24/2008
Went to Esca for the first time with a party of four and thought that some food was good, but not worth the price tag. My dish in particular was fettucine with clams..the waiter warned me that the dish was particularly salty, but I decided to risk it. The pasta was good, although too salty, and the clams were flat-out inedible. I just have to wonder why Mario Batali's restaurant would serve a dish that they know is too salty? On the other hand, others orderd gnocchi and a seafood spaghetti which were delicious. Overall, I would say that there are better options in the 'hood, particularly for that price.
Posted by Janet on 08/27/2008
We ate at Esca this past Sun after the theater. We are foodies who watch cooking shows, who love to cook and eat, and we dine out often. We will not return to Esca. The meal started off great with an outstanding appetizer with sardines, a favorite of ours. We each had a different pasta. Mine had mussels and artichokes. My husband's had crab. The write up on the menu sounded delicious, the problem was finding the miniscule amounts of mussels, artichokes or crab in the dishes. The pasta, a type neither of us had had before was so chewy and bland it was not pleasurable to eat. We eat our pasta al dente (my husband is Italian and a great cook) but this was ridiculous. The dessert was delicious. The best part of the experience was our waiter. He was friendly, courteous and helpful. Needless to say we were overall disappointed particularly because we are fans of the owners and had been told by our waiter that the restaurant had just been awarded 3 stars by the NY Times.