Esca
Esca

Esca

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://esca-nyc.com/
  • Phone: 2125647272
  • Hours of Operation:
    Lunch: Monday - Saturday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm; Dinner: Monday: 5:00pm - 10:30pm, Tuesday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:30pm, Sunday: 4:30pm - 10:30pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Carte Blanche,Diners Club,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Seafood, Italian
  • Executive Chef: David Pasternack
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Wine

Getting there

  • Cross Street: 9th Avenue
  • Public Transit: Subway to 42nd Street - Times Square
  • Parking: No
A word from Esca
Esca is a Southern Italian Seafood Restaurant created by Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich & David Pasternack. Esca showcases the style & sensibility of Italian coastal cooking. Dave went to Italy & saw firsthand what they were talking about. After years of cooking French food, Dave had finally found the food he had always wanted to cook. The best fish available, prepared in a simple & delicious way. In Italy that means the local catch, but in New York that means the best fish of the Pacific, Mediterranean & our own backyard.

At Esca you can eat the most sought after Pacific Ocean delicacies along side Fluke that Dave caught on his day off. The menu changes daily & is driven by the fish markets of the world & the farms of Dave’s friends. Esca is the place where you can have stunning raw fish, an incredible bowl of pasta & then a Mediterranean Branzino cooked in sea salt. Esca is the best of Italian coastal cooking with access to the world’s greatest fish.
Continued
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Esca reviews from OpenTable diners
278 reviews since July 2, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food4.1
    Service4
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelModerate
77% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (165)special occasion (116)notable wine list (103)neighborhood gem (75)romantic (65)great for outdoor dining (41)great for lunch (37)hot spot (31)good for groups (20)late-night find (12)great for brunch (4)kid-friendly (4)vibrant bar scene (3)Show More
  • Love seafood?
    ContractGuy
    Dined on 10/28/2014
    This is a great restaurant if you love seafood. If you do not, the menu is limited
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • We did not take the "bait"
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    We tried the tasting menu and overall was an absolutely underwhelming experience. It started very strong with a tasting of "crudi" a "brodetto" and a great squid . But then the chef lost control of the salt . I love salt and this is the first time ever I complain about having too much of it. (btw the people at the table next to me complained of the same) Too bad because the ricotta gnocchi where soft and well presented while the bass was dry and unappealing. Service was fair at best, We had to call for a menu multiple times , (while the waiter gave the wine list as soon as we sat down). The table had also to be re-dusted of bread crumbs before we where seated.! Surprisingly so as the bread was dispensed it as it was gold.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • numerodos
    Dined on 10/26/2014
    I made reservations for a group of 6 because I remember it was very good place 3 years ago. It still has the ambiance, but the food and service went down while the prices moved way north. Despite early dinner 5PM on Sunday and having the group of 6 people we were invisible. The wine list and the water came almost right away, but from that point no one paid attention to our table. Ordering wine was challenging, we had to ask for menus after 30 minutes and getting extra bread and some olive oil required a lot of hand signaling and "begging". Food presentation was good, but it didn't taste as well as it should and was very bland. They took NYC "low sodium" policy literally. There was some on the table but almost was none in the food.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • DixmeisterVIP
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Its a nice place for pre theatre. But, just nice and nothing to distinguish it from other, less costly restaurants.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fancy priced with no ambiance
    artmagic
    Dined on 10/25/2014
    Somewhat disappointing food in that it did not match the price range of excellence. Our waiter was friendly, however, the hostess first sat us by the bar when the whole restaurant was empty for our 12:15 lunch reservation. The hostess showed visible signs of irritation when I was dissatisfied with our table. The manager promptly moved us to the main dining room to a table with a wobbly leg. I had to ask for the leg of the table to be fixed. My husband and I had wait for two different people to fix the leg of the table. It was my birthday celebration, so I did not want them to spoil my good time, but they did give me a negative first impression. I do NOT want to go back to this restaurant.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Some hit and some miss
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/24/2014
    Some dishes were great, some were not good at all. My guest has the fish special and it was great. First rate. I had the seafood stew and it was so salty, it was not edible. I doubt the dish was tasted before it left the kitchen.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An afternoon's delight!
    NYCeats
    Dined on 10/23/2014
    Having frequented Esca many times, we returned for a delightful lunch as a deluge soaked the city. This caused our guest to arrive almost 45 minutes late. Although the restaurant was crowded with matinee theater-goers, the wait staff was exceptionally solicitous: serving us, then our late-comer, with good humor, graciousness, and concern. Another delectable meal served with the warmest hospitality.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Very good
    albins
    Dined on 10/22/2014
    Wine was excellent and the food, we both ordered fish and was really tasty, well cooked and presented. The waiters were very kind and we will definitely come back to celebrate special occasions.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Outstanding Service and Food
    KapersVIP
    Dined on 10/22/2014
    Great seafood menu choices. Our waiter was very thorough in the description of the menu and the choices available. Food was outstanding
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • yum
    NenaVIP
    Dined on 10/19/2014
    We love this place, the best seafood in NYC. We go every time we are in NYC
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Above and Beyond Service
    MAG333VIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    We arrived late for our reservation and had theater tickets. Maitre d, Michael asked us to wait a bit and gave us drinks. We decided to come back for post theater dinner. Maitre d so kindly gave us a bottle of wine. Unnecessary but so appreciated. I had scallop crudo & my husband had razor clam crudo. Both excellent. Spaghetti with lobster and Mahi liver also delicious. Had warm bread pudding and warm cranberry cake.Loved both. Service, food and especially maitre d made Esca a lovely experience. Will definitely return. Please pass this review on to the restaurant.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, late-night find, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pro is early service for theater
    RRM855VIP
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    Service that is a little pretentious and unhelpful. Stay with the fish when ordering. That is where they excell.
    Special Features:
    romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fish Lovers gem
    SueJ
    Dined on 10/18/2014
    It always amazes me how hard it is to find fish well cooked in this city. Esca does it perfectly. We started with the grilled whole calamari which was perfect. This was followed by whole fish fileted perfectly. Too bad there is no room for fileting by the table. Not much choice for non fish lovers. The place was packed. The prices not bad for NYC. And the wine chosen for me was very good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Decent Service Recovery
    HKDinerVIP
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    We were sat in a small corner by the kitchen entrance and were promptly ignored, I tried to get moved to a table in the main dining room. Quickly after, a manager offered us a drink and brought over a snack of olives and crostini. They were very good. A waiter did not approach after that, but another more managerial person came over and explained the menu and he was very nice and informative. It didn't seem others got this service in our area. We had the octopus, good, but a little over grilled. I had the pumpkin crudo, very good. We split the black ink pasta, which was delicious. Lastly we had the thresher shark, again it was over grilled. It had been described that it would come out medium. The vegetables were also over done.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    The Orato was tender and moist and the octopus was delicious.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • got salt?
    Whiteshoes
    Dined on 10/16/2014
    A native-born Italian friend cautioned me: ask them to go easy on the salt. I didn't. I should have, at least insofar as the main dishes were concerned. (Crudi were great, as were the grilled sardines). Pasta chitarra: gummy, brutally salty. Their seafood soup (like a boullibasse) was a deeply concentrated seafood stock (and dare I say fishy in a maybe not-great way) and f**king salty. But, as in all Batali restaurants, the pastas and second are (imho) made with a heavy hand. (And don't I remember him on TV preaching a pasta sauce as a "condimento", a light dressing not to be over-applied?) What. Ever.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing
    Oeno
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    We went post-theater on a Tuesday night. The outdoor seating area is nice, but the food was less than mediocre. Old crusty end-of-the-day bread, flavorless fish, and a waiter who was nice enough but felt the need to shout everything he said.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Italian Sushi! How cool is that?
    practicalprincess
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    Still dreaming of going back for a Pomegranate Bellini and the crudo (raw) menu. We had the tasting appetizer and it was exquisite and satisfying. Service was warm and friendly yet at the same time terribly efficient. I am sure every dish is wonderful -- we had the lobster with pasta(fresh tasting) in a mint chili sauce. We recommend studying the menu before you go because it is delightfully unconventional. Also don't waste this place on a rushed meal before your show…We were there on a weeknight when we had theater tickets. They asked us when we walked in if we had time constraints. 5 for dinner when the curtain is at 8 was plenty of time for two courses and a little after dinner coffee. We'd go back for a full 3 courses and dessert.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Gone downhill
    PupsVIP
    Dined on 10/14/2014
    This was my third or fourth time eating at Esca and I'm not sure that I will go back. zThe bread was passable. The focaccia was dense and awful. My fish was way over cooked. The desert was good, but the chocolate biscotti tasted like it had lived in the freezer. I guess that chef Pasternack is attending to his new venture instead of minding the kitchen at esca.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Esca meal
    Cookie
    Dined on 10/13/2014
    We eat in a lot of Michelin Star Restaurants and our meal at Esca was superb, would definitely go back next time we visit NYC
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Let down
    simpleingredients
    Dined on 10/11/2014
    I was in NYC for just one night, dreaming of this food, and overall it was a major disappointment. The manager was rude. He rushed the diners sitting next to us out before they finished their wine so that he could fill the table. He told them THREE times to leave. It was embarrassing to watch. They were out of Branzino on a Saturday night at 8pm, which is what I wanted to order. So that was not a good start. The linguine with clams is inedible. It is so salty and they put pancetta in it, which destroys the taste of the clams. The wine was delicious, so there is that. We didn't stay for digestivi - in case the manager needed our table too. The owners are northern Italian and they should stick to their own region. I wouldn't go back.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Simply Perfect
    JorgeArenas
    Dined on 10/5/2014
    Italian wine lists and all menu are perfect. I enjoy everything.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delicious food and great service
    LoveItalianFood
    Dined on 10/5/2014
    My husband and I went for our anniversary dinner. The waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and the wine list. We decided to split the pasta and fish because the portions were pretty hearty and they actually separated it into two plates for us. We had the sea urchin pasta, which was absolutely amazing --we didn't even like sea urchin before this! --and just melted in your mouth like butter. The grilled bluefish was a perfect blend of smoky and tender. The desserts were, of course, as rich and delicious as you would expect from any good Italian restaurant. If there's anything I would criticize, it would be that the tables were placed a little too close and we could hear everything that the couple next to us were saying.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Even better than before!
    twofourtalkVIP
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    The other night ESCA seemed to have gotten 'even better' than before! We go there after the theatre, when often we have felt that the staff couldn't wait for us to leave… also since I can't eat pasta, they had seemed rather exasperated by us.The other night was a transformation! Delicious veggies, seafood, -- oysters, salads.Lovely combinations of foods... And lovely attentive service.A real pleasure.And we closed the place. Even though we live on the upper east side, we will 'go down' to ESCA, NOT only on theatre nights.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great experience
    Eleanor
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    Celebrated my Birthday at Esca the experience was excellent no disappointments here the food was excellent service and friendly staff added to a lovely evening. Thanks Mario you are the best!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Experience not comparable with cost
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    The Good: The Octopus appetizer dish was amazing. The Drinks are well portioned. Our Reservation was honored close to the time scheduled. Could use more work: Bartender could be more professional Table settings and servers were not comparable with cost. Noise was loud The Result: Not worth the cost, spend your money elsewhere.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Can't say I recommend this place
    Cpic
    Dined on 10/4/2014
    Negatives heavily outweighed positives: Despite making reservations weeks in advance we were seated by the kitchen in a very tight space that led to spillage by someone trying to get in the next table. The noise from the kitchen was loud. What was most troubling is that a manager was openly demeaning staff right in front of us and others. Very unprofessional. It got worse from there, he kept going in the kitchen and SCREAMING at people. It really made us uncomfortable. Our waiter and other staff remained professional despite the drama in the area and did a very nice job. Very attentive to our show schedule. The food was very good - I had the spaghetti with crab sauce, husband had the flounder. Excellent proximity to theater.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Irish Eyes
    IrishEyes
    Dined on 10/3/2014
    Food was good but not great...Service was excellent . Our Fish was cold by the time it was served, heated plates would have helped.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • modern classic
    alawrencenyc
    Dined on 10/2/2014
    I had the pleasure of returning to esca with a friend that I had dined with years ago at the restaurant had just opened. We were as excited and pleased as we had been all those years earlier. Fabulous.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 10/1/2014
    Ambiance was nice. Service could be better. Too long between courses. Food was good.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Avoid this place!!
    Sarah
    Dined on 9/29/2014
    a completely disappointing and overpriced experience. The place tries to be a fine dining establishment, but it is not. Its full of empty pretentions. The dishes were overcooked and tasted like the pasta was prepared in advance and then reheated with sauce put on as an after thought. The word mediocre is too generous! The most ridiculous part of the whole dining experience was the numerous wait staff that stood around looking confused and unsure what to do. At one point we had 5 wait staff standing around out table either removing plates we have not used or changing silver ware that did not need to be changed or doing God knows what, which really meant they interrupted our conversation too many times.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/28/2014
    Food was exquisite & experience was lovely. Highly recommend Esca, particularly for a special occasion.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Still CrazyGood after all the years
    FasitaVIP
    Dined on 9/28/2014
    On a Sunday night the fish at Esca remains impeccable. The crudo tasting still worth lusting after and the contorni and salads much more than an afterthought. Each dish was vibrant and well conceived. The pasta with sea urchin and crab remains for me the best iteration of the now many sea urchin and crab pastas in town. Service is as professional as you'd expect at this price point. The sommelier remains a particularly informative friendly presence never tries to upsell always succeeds in delighting.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Flounder perfection!
    tkinmi66
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    My wife and I had the Flounder with figs and pistachios. Best Flounder ever!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Less good than usual
    Rami
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    We have dined at Esca several times before and were always impressed from the impeccable preparation of the pasta and the fish. This visit was less than satisfying. Among the four of us, one was quite unhappy with the grilled sardines, which tasted as if they were prepared ahead of time and just warmed up before serving. With sardines that is a death sentence. The spaghetti Neri were as usual excellent, but the chitarra with the sea urchin sauce were overcooked and the sauce was not as good as usual. The Ribolla Gialla was excellent.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not as good as usual
    Louiswilliam
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    We have been to esca 3-4 times in the past. This time our server was gruff and hurried. My dinner was a Ciopino that was very fishy.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • not. exactly what i ordered
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 9/26/2014
    I ordered the arctic char and asked the waiter that it be cooked so that it was not slimy in the middle. He said "you want medium then" i said whatever it would be so that it was not slimy in the middlw. If it was more toward well do,e that as fine. Clearly the slimy issue was impprtant to me. When i got my food vuess what? The fish was slimy and not cooked in the middle and i did not enjoy it at all. I did not mention it as i was with a client but was v ery disappointed.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Outstanding
    foodfaddie
    Dined on 9/25/2014
    The service was beyond spectacular. Every bite was noteworthy.this was a memorable meal. I didn't know pasta could taste that good
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Better Then the First Time
    ReneeVIP
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    It was surprising to see such a busy crowd on a Tuesday night. This was our second visit at Esca and it was wonderful! We splurged on the tasting menu and it was worth the costs!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Noisy-Noisy
    Ovian
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    The place is noisy and they play a horrible Rock music. We could not talk. When we complained with the staff the manager came in our table and said if we go there for lunch he could play another kind of music but for diner just that one every night. Who goes to a Italian Place to eat Italian food and ask for Rock music? Just unpleasant . We could not enjoy the food .People next to us was shouting -trying to talk and we could not talk.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall