Esca

4.3
5076 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 5076 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.3based on recent ratings
4.2
food
4.4
service
4.2
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
78% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

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

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e
Hawaii
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
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 4 days ago
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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s
St. Louis
3 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
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
1 review
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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e
New York Area
12 reviews
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

NYC lacks high quality fish restaurants, Esca is at the top of the list, coupled with superb service and excellent wine choices, my Sunday night visit was a tad disappointing, mundane choices and not enough locally sourced choices, it was Sunday, ... everything well prepared, excellent for sharing .. a few crude, shared appetizers, pasta and fish .. $85 a person w/ tip

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ED
New York Area
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Overall excellent restaurant! Would go again. Pros: Excellent cuisine, excellent wine pairing, great menu. The octopus appetizer, the raw fish selection, and the black squid ink pasta were outstanding. The pre-theater menu was a bargain for fine cuisine like this. Close to Times Square. Cons: Very tight seating, loud, not romantic. We had a great experience.

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EH
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 1

The tables were too close resulting in having the waitresses back and elbows in our faces when serving the other table. And the serving was too slow. We got the main course after one and a half hour.

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JW
Seattle
3 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino Banzino Branzino Branzino!!!!

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MS
Caribbean
4 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

We started with an excellent bottle of pinot noir, suggested by the very knowledgeable sommelier. Then we ordered the grilled octopus which was very good, then split the macaroni with sea urchin and crabmeat, which was also tasty and the macaroni was cooked to perfection, al dente. We should have stopped there. The zuppa di pesce (dinner size) had too many flavors going on, and was very fishy. The shark which I ordered medium well, was unremarkable. We did not stay for dessert. The staff is very friendly and professional. I would go back, for wine and small plates, and of course for the excellent pasta.

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

This is one of my favorite pre-theatre, post theatre restaurants. Unfortunately, on my last visit, my wife’s dish smelled and tasted terrible. My wife wasn’t sure if it was the preparation or if the fish, Golden Spotted Bass, was a strong flavored fish. I tasted the fish and the dish was inedible. The matre’ d’ quickly replaced the dish with a calamari dish that we got instead was very good. I would say the other dishes were good or very good. I don’t know what the issue was the one entree?

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CR
New England
9 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had never heard of it before, but my friends will! Wonderful for pre-show or anytime. Food and service outstanding. Interesting food options.

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

Eh...fish lacked flavor. Verdura salad was combo room temp and cold vegetables smothered in overpowering seasoning. we had to track down a waiter for some bread. My water glass was never refilled. Biscotti served with check tasted like they were old and refrigerated. Macaroon was dry. Disappointed. I heard this used to be good.

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

Great ambiance and wine/cocktail list. Service is great. The food was ok, definitely a bit overpriced. The Zuppa de Pesce was so fishy I couldn’t even eat it. Definitely get the crudo - best thing on the menu.

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OT
New York Area
2 reviews
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 3ambience 3

We were a party of five. Quality was very uneven. Some dishes were fine, but others ranged from mediocre to downright foul. The mussels in my Zuppa di Pesce had a nasty scent you could smell across the table. Had to ask the waiter to take it away (still cost me $35). Plenty of other great Italian/Seafood places nearby.

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AR
Atlantic City
14 reviews
Dined on January 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was wonderful from the minute we walked in until we left. The service was outstanding. Our server Ararat was excellent! Our dinner was amazing! This was our first time & we will definitely be back.

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B
Frankfurt Area
5 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Esca has been a great surprise! We had an excellent dinner on New Year's Eve and we would go back any time we traveled again to NY. I booked the restaurant because reviews were good and it was conveniently located close to Time Square, but expectations were relatively modest as I had already experience of Italian restaurants highly rated but quite disappointing at the prove of facts.
I was so wrong! The quite modest outside look hides a really nice and cozy restaurant. Staff were very friendly and competent and the menu has some delicacies than I can imagine difficult to find in other places. We had an excellent crudo of Swordfish and the burrata as starters, followed by delicious spaghetti with Lobster. The sauce was really tasty, the spaghetti perfectly "al dente" and the lobster was mouth watering! I can say this was one of the best spaghetti with lobster I have ever had, and I am Italian (by the way) from a sea region: believe when I say, I know what I am talking about!!. We enjoyed very much also the perfectly cooked branzino al sale accompanied by red beet with mustard, grilled fennel and potatoes, all extremely good (I usually do not like red beet). We did not order wine but had an excellent Prosecco that we had ordered to accompany the starter and fell in love with.
We finished our dinner with a trio of home made sorbet and a glass of excellent (home produced) limoncello. I can only recommend it.

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OT
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 5ambience 5

Food was not fresh but they changed to accommodate. Tastes were v simple and bland for the big $

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JW
Seattle
3 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Get the branzino!

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KM
Baltimore
1 review
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Get the Crudo! It’s fantastic.
The wine list is also impressive.
Fantastic service, best we had in NY, and that’s saying something.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

Holiday celebration

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e
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on December 29, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

Esca was very disappointing. The food was mediocre at best, and the prices were too high. We had a salad appetizer that was terrible. The portions were small. In fact, I thought my full portion of fish was a half portion. The service was ok, but it seemed like the whole enterprise existed to get as much money out of customers for as little effort as possible. It's a shame: I went years ago and loved it.

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OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 5ambience 3

Service was excellent. However, the food was forgettable and unimpressive at best. I've dined at amazing restaurants across the globe, and unfortunately this is not one of them. Hopefully they will update the menu and kitchen to reach their potential.

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b
Charlotte
7 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

One of the best Itailian seafood restaurants I’ve ever been to. The Crudo was absolutely fantastic. Great wine selection and beautiful desserts. Can not wait to go back!

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s
Washington DC
63 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely wonderful dinner, as usual! This time, especially impressive handling our table of 8 people. Options for a vegetarian and a gluten-free diner, and delicious Italian flavors for all. The squid-ink pasta was divine, as was the ravioli. Every taste of crudo, particularly the steelhead salmon and the Spanish mackeral, was melt-in-your mouth heavenly. And, did I mention they have the Best Bread? Olive oil with a hint of spice, and an olive oil cake that was sublime - what more can you ask. Patient and knowledgeable staff kept everything on track, and the 6 people who had never been there before left vowing to come back for more. You should do this for yourself in the New Year!

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V
New York Area
17 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Imaginative combinations of ingredients, simply delicious food!

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z
New York Area
11 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

Very good for high quality, Mediterranean-style seafood & Italian fare. Don't look for red meat or huge portions here! This place often gets two $, but appetizers are typically $15 - $20, and entrees are $20 - $40.

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MT
New York Area
59 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Esca is our special occasion place! Expensive but fabulous and worth the splurge once in a while.

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KF
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is my new favorite theater district restaurant and I will be frequenting it!! Waiter Anthony was knowledgeable and helpful (albeit he would not serve my date the fish head as I requested!)
Crudo and fish were exquisite, Chef Dave was awesome & the homemade limoncello to die for!

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AS
New York Area
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

Although I have had many lovely meals at Esca, this last one was a disappointment, not because of the food, which was very good, but because of the service, which was very bad. I don't think I will be back.

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P
New York Area
173 reviews
Dined on December 19, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Unusual, but delicious menu, beautiful presentation and a fabulous waiter.

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WS
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Was 5-star in almost all respects, especially service, which was solicitous without being fawning.
Food also was almost 5-star, especially appetizers, pasta, and olive oil, but fell slightly short with too much salt on crudo and fish entree being lukewarm. Clearly a top-rung establishment and worth a trip, but still probably get more bang for the buck at less flashy places, such as Union Square Cafe.

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F
New York Area
12 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

Use to be one of the top restaurants with a wait line to get in. Now it’s half empty. Food mediocre. Service average. Hurry and get this restaurant back to first class before it goes out of business.

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J
New York Area
22 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Service was exceptional. Disappointed that they ran out of the dish we specifically went for.

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 2ambience 1

Really only appeals to squid lovers. Even the spaghetti has squid ink! Not a good choice for beef or fowl dishes

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LN
New York Area
1 review
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Great food and service. We sat by the kitchen and it was very busy and noisy and felt a bit cramped

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TK
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always an excellent experience, the food, the wine, the service! And especially loved the sommelier’s pick for our tables- always a joy to consult with her.

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