Seeing the brewing tanks soon after the elevator ride up showed some promise for Birreria. The tanks are the first thing you see as you enter the area. This is now the second place that brews its own beer in Manhattan (Chelsea Brewing Company at Chelsea Piers is the other, Heartland Brewery has been brewing in Brooklyn for over a decade. Hopefully more brewpubs will open in Manhattan and we can have ourselves a brewpub NYC bar crawl). Past the brewing tanks and up a few more stairs, you’ll find a long bar on the left and the main restaurant area in the middle and right of the space. There is a retractable greenhouse-like roof to cover the space in less-than-ideal weather.
This is definitely not a beer garden in the sense of most of the other beer gardens that are proliferating around the five boroughs. No communal tables. Mostly, the tables are two or four seaters with place settings, with a few larger round tables toward the east end of the space. You would be fairly accurate to describe this rooftop space as an Italian tapas restaurant that brews its own beer. Despite being a rooftop, there is not the 360 degree view that you find at some other rooftop establishments nearby in this Midtown South nabe. You can see the top of the Empire State Building to the north as well as the Metlife and Flatiron buildings to the east, but that is about all.
Currently, Birreria serves three cask-style house brews, in addition to a mix of beers from Dogfishhead, Victory and a few imports. I ordered a cask IPA and cask Pale Ale. I am not a huge cask fan, but these two beers were very good. It sounds as though the three casks will rotate fairly frequently. The price comes in at a lofty $10 for these house brews served in a 20 oz pint glass. That’s a bit pricey, even for Manhattan standards.
In closing, I would say Birreria is definitely worth a visit, but carefully pick your time to go. If you try a weekend afternoon or evening, you will be waiting for a table for at least 45 minutes (even a seat at the bar will likely put you on a waitlist; but while you wait, you can spend time in Eataly). While the beer is good and the space looks nice, it’s not worth waiting too long for.
Pictures to follow in a future blog post. What do you think of Birreria and my commentary? Have you been yet? Please share your thoughts here.