Esca

4.2
5110 reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian
Esca is a Southern Italian Seafood Restaurant created by Joseph Bastianich & David Pasternack. Esca showcases the style and sensibility of Italian coastal cooking. Dave went to Italy and 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 and delicious way. In Italy, that means the local catch. 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 and 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 and then a Mediterranean Branzino cooked in sea salt. Esca is the best of Italian coastal cooking with access to the world’s greatest fish.
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Sun 9:30PM - 11:15PM
Mon - Sat 10:00PM - 11:15PM

What Insiders Are Saying

The Infatuation
7.6

Year after year, Esca remains in the conversation of the NYC elite. It’s always jam packed, mostly with the business and commuter crowd.

Ratings 7.5-8.0:These are restaurants that are reliable, tasty, and particularly good for whatever we have deemed them “Perfect For.” Hit up a 7.7 for Date Night with confidence, as long as you don’t need the restaurant to be the most interesting thing that happens that night.
What 5110 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.2based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.4
service
4.2
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
79% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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J
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent Italian fish cuisine. Great traditional ambiance

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G
New York Area
46 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

The food is wonderful but the place is quiet noisy

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f
New York Area
42 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 3

Perhaps some of the worst service I've experienced in NYC. Everyone from the server (ignored us for 30 minutes, then repeatedly asking if things were ok as we sat with no food) to the wine steward (could not clearly explain/answer questions) to the bus boys (literally dropped silverware in front of me) felt like the B team. The food was fairly good, but it doesn't come cheap and certainly isn't worth the experience of getting it to a plate in front of you. My last experience here.

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HW
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

All food delicious but a little expensive. In particular I wish the appetizers a little more generous.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 8, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 1

Overall poor

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OT
New England
2 reviews
Dined on February 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went here before a show. They were incredibly conscious of our show time and all around excellent. The food was absolutely delicious.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent meal! Great service!

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BH
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 5ambience 1

I have been here before. The first time was the best overall. This time. The food seemed not as delicious. Service was superb

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on February 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding evening. Just a great experience. Can’t wait to go back.

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DS
London
34 reviews
Dined on February 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Consistency among the highest of any restaurant we eat at in NYC
Seafood pasta perfect in flavor and al dente preparation
Food arrives at table piping hot
Pasternak has been delivering quality seafood diners for almost 30 years if you include the Sag Harbor days

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H
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 31, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 5

One of my mentors and I have a tradition of going to Esca every winter restaurant week. The seafood has always been delicious and very fresh.
This visit I had the seafood soup appetizer and it’s the first time the fish was not fresh and tested fishy. It also had too much salt in it - to the point of being hard to eat - and I usually like salt in my food. My entree - shell pasta with seafood. The mussels were over cooked, the fish again was a bit fishy and there were no shrimp.
My mentor had the crudo appetizer which was delicious and fresh and the whole porgie entree which was tasty but a bit over cooked. Her food quality was better than mine.
I got the sense Esca was cutting corners on the food. It’s a mistake anytime but especially during restaurant week when people are previewing for new favorites.
Last year I ordered from the regular menu and the linguine with white clam sauce was just about the best I’ve ever eaten. The place is expensive so the food has to be excellent to make it worth the price.
The restaurant is beautiful and the wait staff is wonderful - attentive and fun. Ultimately though, restaurant selection is primarily based on the food.

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LP
New York Area
3 reviews
Dined on January 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

from the General Manager down to our waiter and coatcheck person, all was superb!

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CM
Philadelphia
2 reviews
Dined on January 28, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 5

They seemed to forget us a few times but were nice when present. Excellent wine and pretty good food. Ran out of several items that interested us, disappointingly, early on a Sunday evening. Lovely special birthday dessert presentation.

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D
New England
6 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A favorite for years now. It has improved with age.

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OT
Toronto
2 reviews
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I was able to reserve this restaurant fortunately. All dishes are wonderful but “Zuppa di Pesce” is special one from souther Italian dishes.

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CC
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 3

The service was excellent. Attention to detail top shelf. The restaurant is very expensive and the food quality does not match the price. Italian Pasta course is about $28 dollars and offers about a dry cup measure of pasta, sauce and the smallest amount of shrimp possible. My Fish soup was $35. The soup itself bland and so was the fish. The best value was the $15 dessert which was excellent: Ricotta donuts with a delicious sauce.

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E
Toronto
13 reviews
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 4ambience 3

The seafood and pasta dishes we had at Esca were superb. Briny, fresh, expertly prepared. Very friendly staff. Our grumble is with the space. First, the most annoying music ever. Each song starts really loud, then fades to a level just loud enough to impede conversation. We were seated by the wine storage cooler--- a large wood and glass affair that was lovely to look at; but the doors wouldn't shut completely so we had cold air blowing on us the entire meal. When we asked about it we were given a half-hearted "yeah, sorry about that." There were empty tables all around us; but we were not given the offer to relocate. So...amazing food, friendly service but in an annoying space.

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P
Washington DC
21 reviews
Dined on January 26, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful service and excellent food. Esca has the perfect ambience for quiet conversation or a romantic date. We will definitely be back.

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OT
Baltimore
1 review
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Each course and dish was superb. Waiter was outstanding in explaining the food choices and airing the offerings.

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m
New York Area
37 reviews
Dined on January 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had the bronzino in salt and had two vegetables as our appetizers. It wasn't a cheap meal, but it was spectacular.

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BM
Chicago
5 reviews
Dined on January 23, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

Food was tasty, but service haphazard. Perhaps some staff had not shown up.

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RB
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on January 23, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 5

Lovely small spot but food was not as good as we had hoped. The fish soup was overly fishy-unbalanced flavor. The calamari was too hot w red pepper. However the whole porgy and shell pasta with salmon and mussels were very good. Would have liked more choices on restaurant week menu.

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A
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 4ambience 4

This was our third time at Esca and it was the last. Our first lunch there was 100% wonderful. Our second was 50-50 and also the worst dessert I've ever had, an undercooked apple cake that was shockingly bad. This lunch was during Restaurant Week. The zuppa di pesce all'Amalfitana was fishy tasting and muddy. I immediately wondered if the fish had been left over from Sunday because we were lunching on Monday. The tomato bruschetta was submerged in the soup and falling-apart soggy, and the tomato sauce was acidulous and bitter. My grilled porgy was perfectly done and delicious. My companion's fusilli with leeks and mussels had the same fishy taste as the soup. I really do not think those mussels were fresh. I believe the pasta was house made and it was very good. I was surprised at the low level of quality, given that Esca is famous for fresh fish. Not going back.

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OT
New England
3 reviews
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic, favorite place to go when in NYC

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P
New York Area
15 reviews
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Delicious drinks, friendly service, and top notch fresh fish dishes made this a lovely relaxed evening. We will definitely be back.

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LG
New York Area
31 reviews
Dined on January 20, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 2

The food was so good -all of it - that it almost compensated for the tight seating, slow and disorganized service, high noise level, and high prices. One could only fantasize about being able to have the same meal a little more quickly, in more comfortable and civilized surroundings.

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CS
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

Food was not up to par! Over cooked and not fish fresh.

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OT
New England
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 4

Disappointing

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LA
New York Area
16 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Amazing quality fish.

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CC
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Esca never disappoints. The crudo is always amazing and the Sicilian wines were delightful.

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DR
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on January 18, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding restaurant. Great fish dishes incredibly well prepared. Excellent service by a friendly and professional wait staff. One of my favorite restaurants in NYC. It is worth my travel from Connecticut just to have dinner at this notable restaurant.

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on January 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding. Food. Service. It was amazing. Will definitely go back.

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e
Hawaii
5 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 2

Very disappointing, does not match the description on its web site. That pasta was over cooked and too salty.

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JB
1 review
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Esca was warm and welcoming with superb service as always. Branzino was cooked to perfection!! Linguini Vongole very flavorful but could benefit from a little less salt (and I’m a ”salt-a-holic!”). Otherwise a thoroughly delightful dinner.

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C
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

I expected much more from this restaurant. They were unable to accommodate my low salt diet. My only option was a whole fish, which though low salt, was a small portion and which was presented poorly. A clam appetizer was inedible because the clams were impossible to chew through. When brought to the waiter’s attention, no accommodation was made. The one oyster I tried did not taste fresh. Otherwise, my party was satisfied with their food. But the service was slow, and the cost was way too expensive for what was provided.

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s
St. Louis
3 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

We were there celebrating our anniversary and the dessert we ordered said Happy Birthday. We laughed about it but easy thing to get right - or don’t do it at all.

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W
New York Area
9 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 3

It seemed a bit too expensive for what we had but maybe that’s just New York pricing.

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ES
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Absolutely delicious meal, but we almost fainted when we received our $400 bill for just 2 people....and we didn’t even leave stuffed!

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G
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Was so pleased with the wonderful attentive wait staff...timely meal suggestions and delicious results...plan a return visit again this month

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t
New Orleans
3 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was absolutely beautiful. My partner and I had multiple course and split everything. Presentation was on point. The monkfish liver was divine. The uni pasta was silky. If this restaurant were situated back home in New Orleans, I would dine here again (or apply for a chef position). Wonderful service members.

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