There’s a theory put forth about food critics by a chef pal of mine. It goes something like this, “Robert Sietsema knows what he’s going to write before he even walks in the door.” As someone who considers himself a food writer and not a critic, I like to consider myself the exception to my buddy’s rule, but I know I’m not. Take the sandwich I had yesterday. I knew I was going to be in Manhattan for the afternoon and I knew I wanted something hearty, even meaty. I was thinking of a Cubano from La Taza de Oro, or something Italian. When I got to the City as we Queensites like to call it I was still undecided. So I put to the Twittersphere, specifically the maharajah of meat, Josh Ozersky. Within minutes a three word response, “Eataly. Roast Beef,” popped upon my phone.
As I walked to a torture session with a personal trainer buddy of mine, visions of an Italianite roast beef sandwich in gravy danced in my head. By the time I got to Eataly it would be 3 o’clock and I’d have the whole place to myself. I was wrong on both of these counts. When I walked in the Epcot center of Italian cuisine was still packed with tourists slowly strolling about. And the sandwich far from being a roast beef and gravy number was something quite different, a hand-carved prime rib panino.
At $14.80 Eataly’s prime rib sandwich—which is as long as my forearm—is not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. A balance of browned morsels, rosy meat, and lovely fat comprise this study in meaty minimalism, dressed with little more than olive oil and sea salt. It is one of the beast steak sandwiches I’ve ever had. The secret behind the meat’s superb flavor lies in a rub of porcini powder, chili flake, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper. So what appears to be a simple sandwich is in fact rather complex. Thanks again for the tip Cutlets.
Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, 212-229-2560