I finally got to Birreria last night for dinner with some friends, and I was able to get there early enough to do some exploring of Eataly. It was my first visit to both.
Re Eataly, my impressions were positive. It reminded me in some ways of Harrad's in London, with the various food courts sprinkled throughout the store, and the wide variety of food products. As you might imagine, Eataly specializes in Italian food products. If you are looking for anything Italian, I don't see how you can beat Eataly (except perhaps on price, depending on what you're buying).
I had more mixed feelings about Birreria. For one thing, to get there you need to take an elevator to the 14th floor, then climb three small flights of stairs to reach the receptionist, then climb some more stairs to actually get inside the restaurant itself. For those of us with mobility challenges, this is no small thing. And until you actually arrive at those stairs, there isn't any indication that they are there.
The bar was hopping when I got there, about 6:00 PM, but I was able to spot an empty seat and elbow my way to it. I ordered a small carafe of one of the wines they pour from large vats, similar to pouring a beer. You can get any of three carafe sizes when you order wine, and both the serving size and the price seemed reasonable enough to me.
Really, really liked the food, from the selection of cheeses and cured meats to my beer braised pork shoulder. I also tasted the chicken thighs and loved them as well. I thought the food was excellent and quite fairly priced (high teens to the low twenties, depending on your order).
Didn't care so much for the chairs, though, which apparently were designed for the young and slim. The VERY slim. I found the seating to be on the verge of uncomfortable, something that makes me shake my head in wonderment, given that Mario Battali is one of the owners.
All in all, I enjoyed the experience and I think they did quite a nice job in putting the whole thing together. I think it's a destination spot if you want some high-quality Italian ingredients, and there are several specialty counters in the store that will serve you up some good grub at decent prices.
200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010