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
272 reviews since May 26, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food4
    Service4
  • Ambiance3.8
    Noise LevelModerate
76% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
fit for foodies (149)special occasion (111)notable wine list (82)neighborhood gem (77)romantic (66)great for outdoor dining (48)great for lunch (39)hot spot (28)good for groups (16)late-night find (14)great for brunch (7)vibrant bar scene (6)kid-friendly (5)scenic view (1)Show More
  • Somewhat disappointing
    theatregoerVIP
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    Esca was a disappointment; it was cramped and noisy, and the portions were small in relation to the high prices. But the biggest surprise came when one of my dining companions asked for a second cup of coffee. She was informed that the restaurant does not offer second cups of coffee and if she wanted a second cup, she would have to pay for it. We dine out frequently, and have never encountered this lack of hospitality in other comparable restaurants. I really feel that there are better seafood restaurants in the area.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Sicilian everything
    BensReviewsVIP
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    First time dining at this midtown delight... If you enjoy Sicilian sushi and quality seafood selections for every dish, this is your place! Far from your typical Italian joint – their sommelier was very helpful – dessert was absolutely delicious. If crudo is your thing – you have to try – their amazing scallops! Being critical… we were carded (being 35 we love being carded) but felt it was happily strange at this high-end establishment. It’s close to time square / the theatres and less cozy than we had hoped. The seating arrangement felt a little dineresqué. We also went there on Saturday night and the place wasn’t ‘packed’. Ben
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Don't eat here!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 7/4/2014
    We were really looking forward to this meal but were sorely disappointed! I will say that our pasta appetizers were good- not outstanding but we ordered grouper as our main and it was downright awful. Had any of the servers done a table check to see if our meals were ok, I would not have had to write this review Both of our fish dishes were overcooked, not seasoned, rubbery and tasteless. I ask a bus boy for salt, pepper and lemon- anything to add some flavour- the texture was a lost cause. Nobody asked how our food was or noticed that it was all left on the plate!! For what we thought would be an upscale dinner, it was a real downer!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Awesome...
    methanias
    Dined on 7/4/2014
    Awesome!! Perfect location with a top-notch menu and the freshest ingredients...A+++++++!!!!
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great Food
    gffoodie
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    I reserved a table for my boyfriend's birthday dinner. I was a little worried for myself since I have Celiac's and need to eat a gluten-free diet. Once we got there I asked the waiter if there were any options for Gluten-Free eaters he went to the kitchen and asked. They ended up making me an amazing Gluten-Free pasta dish that was completely off the menu. It was the best gluten-free meal I've ever had.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Esca.... Great as always!
    sharoncalypso
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    Terrific wine list, sommelier gives great recommendations. Food is spot on. from the grilled vegetables to perfect pasta, and it's all about the fish. Octopus is fabulous. The dessert to get is the affogato. Bread from Sullivan Street Bakery is best ever.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • excellent
    southport
    Dined on 6/30/2014
    it s a great place to dine and if anyone loves a great italian place to eat, this is the place to go.
    Special Features:
    hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Never Disappoints
    NotYetSure
    Dined on 6/29/2014
    We have had dinner at Esca quite a few times and have had a wonderful experience every time. Consistency is a hallmark of a great restaurant and Esca is consistent. The staff is professional, the food fresh and expertly prepared, and we've never felt rushed. . .very much like an European dining experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    I was very excited for this Mario Batalli owned restaurant. I order a raw tuna carpaccio appetizer and a hot razor clam/spicy sausage appetizer. The tuna wasn't extremely exciting, seasoned well, but nothing I'd run home about. Same with the razor clams, I found them a bit too chewy. I got a grilled Bronzino for my entree. Fish quality was again beautiful, not surprising. But dish lacked any depth of flavor. The highlight of my meal was the dessert. Overall, the quality of the seafood was great but a disappointing dinner.
    Special Features:
    notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • An extra special evening
    GreenVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    If you want great food, attentive and knowledgeable staff, outdoor dining, and an evening to remember, this is one of those rare places. My wife and I will not forget our dinner there before the theater.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Pre-dinner dinner
    Chipfan
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    We really enjoyed our meal here. The service was impeccable, and while we were dining before our Broadway show, we never felt like they were rushing us out the door. My husband enjoyed the crudo offerings as his appetizer and then had swordfish, I enjoyed the zucchini blossoms and rock shrimp pasta. The piece de resistance, however, was the scrumptious affogato for dessert!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • sanambota
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    Excellent food, great wine list, great service and ambiance makes it an excellent choice for any occasion.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem, hot spot, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Won't be going back
    Eudora
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    I asked if they could make a mojito and the waiter went to ask, came back and said no. That's fine, but then I wanted to order a gin & tonic and the only gin they have is Bombay Sapphire, which I don't like. I get that it's not a bar, but that seems very limited. For dinner we ordered 2 appetizers, one pasta and one fish entrée. The stuffed zucchini blossoms were highlighted by the waiter and they are my favorite so I ordered those - very good. My husband had the fritto misto - mixed fried seafood - would have been good but TOO salty. I had gnocchi for dinner - good, a bit too salty. Husbands monkfish entrée was so salty he barely ate it, veg side also too salty. The space is a bit loud, and the Led Zeppelin they were playing didn't fit!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fantastic Food
    Esca
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    Food was amazing. Baked clams were probably the best I ever had and I try baked clams everywhere! All the food was fantastic. The ladyfingers dessert with espresso was amazing! Staff very helpful. I was going to the theatre and forgot my tickets and they were kind enough to print them up for me from an email I had. All extremely helpful and professional. A real dining experience
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Fabulous Food but stingy pairings
    DocSteveVIP
    Dined on 6/24/2014
    We have always thoroughly enjoyed Esca and try to come as often as possible The multiple course tasting menu is always outstanding. top quality fresh ingredients artfully and tastefully prepared and presented. We usually order wine by the bottle but this time our party opted for the pairings. We were very pleased with the spectrum, quality and appropriateness of the choices but we were very disappointed withe the nearly microscopic pours. At $50 per person the pairings are not worth it. Choose your wine from the ingenious and expansive bottle list
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Loved it!
    HowieS
    Dined on 6/24/2014
    Notable items were: the "crudo tasting" (especially the Montauk oysters); Insalata Di Amara (wild greens); Maccheroni Alla Chitarra (House made spaghetti with sea urchin and crab meat). The wine pairings selected by our waiter were perfect!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent meal...
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    We really enjoyed our meal at Esa - the food was excellent as well as our server. Will go again if the opportunity ever arises.
    Special Features:
    romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • No service
    missservice
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    No menus when seated, no lemons for our water when requested, no offer of grated cheese or ground pepper, a bit of an attitude among server and men in suits hanging around doing nothing. Food very salty.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A nice experience
    TomLightVIP
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    My wife and I had wanted to go to Esca for quite some time. We found it great.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • First date night post babies!
    food4thought
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    Amazing food and the service is outstanding. Wished that we weren't so close to the customers next to us. Tables are tightly packed in the tiny space so if planning a romantic date/conversation, save it for later in the evening! A great way to start "date nights" after having our babies!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • disappointing
    gibsongirlVIP
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    With Esca's culinary pedigree I had high expectations. The service was very fine, the outdoor dining area lovely, but not one thing on the menu was appealing ---and we are both very willing to try new and different dishes. We settled for a pasta dish (squid ink sauce if I recall) and the fritte platter. The calamari was the only tasty thing on that plate of heavily fried seafood that was served with a very starchy tasting green sauce. The pasta sauce was an unappealing color and just not good tasting. Since this restaurant has been around for quite awhile, maybe we just ordered the wrong things, but we won't be back.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Ambience
    Goodeggs123
    Dined on 6/20/2014
    Obviously this is a well-known NY restaurant and has many regulars. We were treated as if we were regulars and valued customers. The service was very professional and attentive even though the restaurant was packed. It's an attractive and charming place that has a feeling of being in someone's home.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Not a great choice with kids
    FoodieWithKids
    Dined on 6/20/2014
    My wife and I are foodies. We spent a few days in Manhattan before heading off to see family further up the coast. My wife and I love going to celebrity chef restaurants and good foodie hangouts, but that can be difficult with kids. We made one good choice (Landmarc Tribeca) this trip, but this choice wasn't as good. My sea bass was ok, but I've had better in much less expensive restaurants. The crudo was quite good. Salads were overpriced. The prices seemed rather high for what we got. There was very little kid friendly food on the menu, so we asked for pasta with butter and cheese. For this, we were charged the $20 per plate rate for pomodoro.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • deliciousVIP
    Dined on 6/19/2014
    my favorite restaurant midtown all dishes never disappointed goodservice always and restaurant always tries to accommodate you always go back
    • Food
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    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent
    vagreenfam
    Dined on 6/19/2014
    Our second visit to Esca. We will go back! It's a great pre-theater spot as well as an all-around wonderful spot.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Slow go
    RH13VIP
    Dined on 6/18/2014
    We had a 5:15pm reservation and arrived at 5:00pm. There were about 10 others in front of the restaurant, some with 5:00pm reservations and shows to get to at 7:00pm. The door was locked. We saw the personnel of the restaurant in a staff meeting, ignoring all of us who were trying to get in. It was a very hot day and the air conditioning was either not working or was insufficient for the temperature. The service was unapologetic for both the wait outside, the heat inside and was slow to serve our meal.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food, expensive
    cyssfVIP
    Dined on 6/16/2014
    My sea urchin pasta was outstanding, as was the grilled octopus and crudo. The black bass was fine but not extraordinary like the other dishes. Pretty expensive though. Good place to meet a friend for lunch near Times Square. Service was prompt (we told them we had to be out of the restaurant in 90 minutes) and professional.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Fish Stew was Underwhelming
    WhirlwindLRVIP
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    We've been to Esca several times following the theater and always had very tasty and innovative meals. During this visit, my husband ordered the fish stew which unfortunately, was very fishy tasting and under-seasoned...a bit disappointing. However, my grilled Orata fish was very tasty. The presentation, as usual, was appetizing and creative. The service is always engaging yet professional. We'll be back.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • WOW what a disappointment!
    MlM1974VIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich should be ashamed of themselves! We had an 8:15 res on a Saturday night and nearly everything we ordered was sold out! The white wine was corked despite the Sommelier having tasted it. The soft shell crabs which were a main reason for my return visit were sold out. We asked for 4 pieces in zucchini flower appetizer, one per guest. It arrived with only two. Only half an hour later were we told that they too were sold out. We ordered a turbot for three. That too was sold out. We talked to the manager, Bradley. He did nothing to improve our experience. Service instead worsened and became more impersonal. The food that we did have was delicious but the services was unprofessional and not worth a 5 star rating.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • a bit disappointed
    Rolsto
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    I expected more. For a 3-star NYT, albeit 7 years old, i wanted an experience to match the reputation. As a fisherman and someone who knows good product, I found the seafood decent, but not great (porgy in the crudo inedible and oversalted). Prep good, but nothing out of the ordinary. Service perfunctory/efficient, but nothing more. I prepared a special night out months in advance. All at the table felt the same way: decent but not worthy of a repeat visit. Of note, wine selections in the wine pairing excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Overpriced and Disappointing
    wineguy007
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    While the food was above average, and the service quite good, it was not a positive dining experience, and not worth the $200+ tab (including a nice tip for the excellent waiter). It took some doing to be shown to a satisfactory table, after being led first to one between the kitchen and the bar on a heavily-trafficked passageway for waiters under a too-loud speaker, a second that was butted up against a butcher block prep table, and a third that was so close to the one next to it that I and my girlfriend, both slender, would have had trouble getting at, even turning sideways. Also not happy with the pseudo-sommelier who haughtily explained that it was not water in our wine glasses, but a drop from our bottle "priming the glass."
    • Food
    • Ambiance
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    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Why did we wait so long?
    AstiVIP
    Dined on 6/13/2014
    We have always planned to dine at Esca but somehow never managed to make it there until Friday night after a show. We had a wonderful dinner with expertly prepared seafood. We also tried the gnocchi and I couldn't remember ever tasting gnocchi that light and fresh. The monkfish was terrific and my husband's plate of fried seafood was absolutely delicious as well as being enormous. Next time, we will share that dish! Service was also very good with never a moment when we noticed water being low or anything missing. All in all, it was a really great experience and we will be back the next time we are in the city!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great Experience
    QuebecFoodie
    Dined on 6/13/2014
    Tonight at Esca turned out to be memorable for me... We sat in the front room, light and NYC filling the room through big windows and the glass door. The sommelier Giselle noticed we were struggling with the awesome wine list, and came right over to us. She suggested the perfect wine for us. I had the mushroom and watercress salad, my friend had the mixed greens...our Bronzino for two, suggested by Tom our waiter, was cooked to perfection. The sautéed kale was also excellent. The bread that I tried not to eat, but happily surrendered to was crunchy and chewy and divine dipped into the spicy olive oil...My friend and I enjoyed so much, I asked to see the matre'd and made another reservation for next month...I can't wait to go back...
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Expected Much, Got Little
    Disappointed
    Dined on 6/11/2014
    Based on the pedigree of the owners, and having reviewed the menu on-line, I was expecting a memorable meal. The first problem was the noise level; it was just a decibel or two below painful, and made conversation very difficult. The second problem was that the food was not good enough to merit the auditory assault. The tuna carpaccio, the anchovies and sardines, and the baked black bass were all bland. The staff was very nice and accommodating, but overall the experience was a large disappointment.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Has gone far downhill . . .
    NYCDiner
    Dined on 6/11/2014
    Ate here last night and while (most of) the crudo remains delicious, the rest of the meal was only okay, with most food not up-to par, and service was mediocre, at best. 1st flight - halibut belly, snapper and diver scallop crudos were amazing and 2nd flight - sea trout was very good, the ceviche was quite poor and the bluefish crudo was fine. The good ends there . . . we saw the server when we received dinner menus/dessert menus/to pay, but never otherwise, even when I was trying mid-meal to try and order my first glass of wine (no one ever collected my finished cocktail glass or asked if I wanted wine). Soft-shell crab - boring, octopus - bland and sea trout entree inedible (not fresh). Not a viable option anymore - I won't be back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • jude
    Dined on 6/11/2014
    We ordered lunch at 12:15, and it arrived at 1:10. Too late for us having a chance for dessert. Very rushed because the waiter never told us there was a cook time for our order, and we had to make a show. We had to eat fast, very disappointing. BTW we told the waiter when we gave our order we had tickets for a 2pm matinee.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food from heaven....
    lesliealyce
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    One of the best Italian restaurants in Manhattan. Food cooked to perfection. Great choice for before or after the theatre or special occasion.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not what it used to be
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    I understand that there is only so much you can expect from a $75, 6 course tasting menu. In the end it's a pretty good deal. But, the place does not deliver the same food I remember from years ago. Not even close. The final fish dish was so salty that it was close to inedible- and I happen to be ok with a lot of salt. The frito misto was really heavy handed, as well. Could only barely tell what any of the items were by sight. Certainly not by taste. Also after we sat, we were pretty much ignored for most of the night- which is hard to do when you are receiving 6 courses. Had to flag down people for everything- and restaurant was not full. Waited an eternity between courses too. Too bad. it used to be a really special place.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
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    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Awesome. Like always
    NJTomVIP
    Dined on 6/5/2014
    Have dined here before and look forward to coming back again. Great food. Great service. Interesting selections. Perfectly prepared
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • DrKW
    Dined on 6/4/2014
    I chose Esca because it was in several " best restaurants for pre-theater" lists. Raw seafood was spectacular. The tuna carpaccio was excellent.But I will be dreaming about the pink snapper sashimi with black lava salt for years to come.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.