Esca

4.2
5201 reviews
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$30 and under
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Italian

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About

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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Private dining
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Italian, Seafood
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Hours of operation
Lunch:

Monday - Saturday: 12:00pm - 2:30pm

Dinner:

Monday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 4:30pm to 10pm
Saturday: 4:30pm - 11:30pm
Sunday: 4:30pm - 10:00pm
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Phone number
(212) 564-7272
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Payment options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
David Pasternack
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Cross street
9th Avenue
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Public transit
Subway to 42nd Street - Times Square
Additional
Beer, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Wine
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Private Dining

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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 5201 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
4.2
food
4.3
service
4.2
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
77% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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SE
1 review
Dined on May 4, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 4ambience 3

The clam ceviche tasted as brine minimally spiced. The haddock was most likely old and frozen and tasted bland with slight ammonia taste to it. Several entrées were not available because the restaurant was to close for renovations the next day.

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w
8 reviews
Dined on May 1, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 2

The worst service I ever experienced

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OT
6 reviews
Dined on April 29, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Servizio molto buono il personale super gentile e premuroso. Unica pecca io mio fritto misto, dove un pesce aveva un forte odore e sapore di ammoniaca!!! L’ho fatto notare e molto gentilmente mi hanno proposto un piatto alternativo e alla fine della cena non me lo sono trovata nel conto. Ho assaggiato i piatti degli altri tre commensali che erano molto buoni.

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s
11 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

Excellent fish restaurant with an Italian flair west of Times Square. Has always been a stand out and the Crudo is a must.

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T
4 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Appetizers were mediocre at best. Mains were terrific. Wine, while very good, was way overpriced with a markup of 5x retail.

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j
135 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

Best for post theatre as pre-theatre is crowded , noisy and rushed

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C
52 reviews
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Extended family I clouding an elder. A smidge rushed to take plates away even though we were not on way to show. Noise level pretty good for restaurants these days. Wine list prices greatly inflated.

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S
1 review
Dined on April 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great selection of fish. Roasted fennel a pleasant surprise.

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JJ
10 reviews
Dined on April 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

We were recently visiting New York and had not dined at Esca in over 10 years. Our memory was that it was one of our favorite restaurants in New York. Overall we had an enjoyable evening but the place is showing its years. The outside looked quite run down as we approached and inside it did not have the sparkle we remembered. Our table was nice, the noise was moderate and the service was wonderful. Our food was delicious but not exceptional. The tuna crudo was fabulous with just the perfect amount of salt and oil. The gnocchi were perfect little pillows of perfection. The Branzino for two was simple but moist and delicate. The roasted fennel had a nice flavor but unfortunately it was mushy. We enjoyed the almond cake dessert with mascarpone ice cream as a perfect ending. Even though Esca has lost its luster the food and service was good enough to bring us back in the future.

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EB
4 reviews
Dined on April 20, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

We went in a group of 7. We were well greeted. After an adequate initial explanation the waiter described the menu. Then, the very knowledgeable sommelier helped with the outstanding italian wine list and recommended two excellent reds from Sicily and Tuscany which were excellent. It took very long for the waiter to take the orders, the appetisers came timely but the second courses took forever. That´s why I didn´t rated wit 5 stars. In sum excellent food and wine list with average table service (excluding the sommelier).

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C
10 reviews
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This was our 3rd dining experience at Esca and did not disappoint. Always a wonderful experience, great service all around.

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 19, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 3

No me impresionó para nada.
El pulpo, plato estrella, estaba muy cocido, seco y con sabor a quemado, el acompañamiento era una ensalada con judiones (habas) que también estaban muy cocidas.
En otras mesas había platos que se veían mejor que los nuestros.
Me lo pensaría bien antes de regresar a este restaurante.

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L
3 reviews
Dined on April 18, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 3

The music was extremely loud for the small, intimate venue. Did not match with scene I believe they were trying to set. Very loud 90’s music is fun but not appropriate for the elegant setting.
Our waitress left half way through our meal and did not tell us she was leaving. For a higher end restaurant, I would have expected her to introduce us to our new waiter. We had one couple from our table of 6 have a family emergency and they were late. I called to let them know and they sat the 4 of us immediately. We had a cocktail and were waiting for them. We asked if we could order some food while we waited but she said no that would be impossible. I asked for bread bc it was getting late and I was starving and that seemed inconvenient.
Once our guests arrived and we ordered things improved a lot. The sommelier was exceptional. The food was delicious and beautifully presented. The service other than that was great.
However we were the last ones in there and when the staff decided it was time to close, they turned the lights up to give us the hint to leave. It was 11:45pm. Sort of disappointing for a high end nyc restaurant to get kicked out at that hour. All in all it was a great meal but a bit rough around the edges.

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 18, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 2ambience 2

I’ve loved Esca for years, but found on this visit that it has lost its soul and the kitchen is cooking without any care. Hope it was just a bad night.

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NG
8 reviews
Dined on April 18, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 3

We were so excited to see all of the crudo's on the menu since we LOVE crudo but the quality and cuts were very poor. The rest of the meal was clunky. The best thing about the experience was the sommelier. She was delightful and very knowledgeable.

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e
12 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

Pasta with crab was fishy. amuse bouche was the best thing. A bit $$ for what it was.

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Only downside was the big tear in upholstery in the booth seat I sat in. Was really surprised how shabby it looked given how first class the restaurant is.

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HJ
22 reviews
Dined on April 12, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 4

I used to come here regularly and always loved the place. On this visit, the food was perfectly fine, but nothing outstanding. Soft shell crab needed more sauce while the monkfish needed much more seasoning. Maybe it was an off-night for the kitchen?? I hope so. Will try again, but they better deliver.

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B
5 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

Service was bad
Bread was cold long wait without service. Guest came and server never came to check for drink
Had to call another another server.
Did not get dessert specially ordered
Had to wait over 30 minutes after requested check

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OT
1 review
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Very good food, always good. A little worn out physically but we always come back. Crudo and salt Branzino was brilliant and i love urchins.

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e
12 reviews
Dined on April 11, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Solid crudo, good pasta, so so fish entree. Excellent Amaro list. Pricey for what it is.

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AF
4 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Food remains a strong point; the crudo "flight" is a treat and turns heads among those not familiar with Italian "sushi." Seafood pastas remain as strong as ever. Wine list is annoyingly expensive and the sommelier is not one of those who really litens; he hears your price point only. So a C grade for wine selection -- stick with the house or lesser vintages; maybe give the $820 Amarone a pass.

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RM
1 review
Dined on April 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Esca is a small intimate restaurant offering a range of dishes all expertly prepared. Pricing is moderate for this area of New York City. Wines by the bottle are on the higher end but they do have a limited selection of 250 ml (1 1/2 glasses) which are reasonable and enough for me. Our group all opted for a shared pasta as an appetizer and the scallops which were cooked perfectly, sometimes that is hard to achieve. this was our second visit after theater matinee and we will be back.

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SR
1 review
Dined on April 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great menu and food. Supper attentive service. Loved the ambience. Will go back again. Stephen, Flanders, NJ

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VW
1 review
Dined on April 5, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 4

Would recommend the food, but only with warning about the service. Our food, when it arrived, was excellent. The service was very spotty, however, and there were problems with the bill, which we couldn’t resolve because it took so long to get the check and we had to get to theate. On advice of the restaurant, we allowed hour and 45 minutes for dinner. It was not sufficient.

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CB
1 review
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is one of favorite places to eat. The ambiance is perfect, vibrant but not noisy, the food is exceptional, the service impeccable while remaining warm.

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TC
2 reviews
Dined on April 4, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

While expensive, their consistency with service and quality of food is second to none.

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TP
2 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Ran into Joe Namath. Can't do better than that. Charming ambiance with just the right amount of buzz.

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JD
129 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Fish is wonderful as always. Good wine choices. Nice staff. We continue to recommend they diversify desserts and add dark chocolate choice

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OT
18 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went there 20 years ago. Still remember the crudo. And it's just as good today. Actually worth a trip crosstown and a walk through miserable times square. Superb.

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g
51 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Very disappointing. Have been there a number of times before and always enjoyed our meals. Brought some friends this time and was surprised at how mediocre the food was. The clams in the linguini were too big and way overcooked and quite tough. The fritto mixto was also overdone and rather over-breaded. I must say that the wine they recommended was quite good.

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PW
5 reviews
Dined on April 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent pre theater but unlike most pre theater
Esca can be a destination on its own merits.
Could easily make a meal of the many crudo offered.
Service was professional and friendly.

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P
28 reviews
Dined on April 2, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 3

This is a Seafood restaurant. Make sure that everyone loves that in all its forms. Crudo was very good but Fritti a bit tired. Turbot was as good as it gets and pastas were liked but a bit small in size. Wine list was over saturated with overpriced wine. Tignanello retail $125 wine list $500. No need for that. Overall an ok meal but not stellar.

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d
5 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Crudo was excellent but 3 of 4 entrees were boring and on if the three, the tuna, was over cooked. The servers were stretched thin and we nearly missed our show.

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D
9 reviews
Dined on March 30, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

It was nice, but just not that great. The food that was supposed to be hot was lukewarm. Our meals were slightly overcooked. The service was a bit inattentive. It was nice but shockingly expensive for just "nice."

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c
1 review
Dined on March 29, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Surveys are very tiring. Rely on your senses. They will guide you.

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DA
1 review
Dined on March 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Overall great experience from ambiance to wine
Dinner and dessert
We will be back

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m
11 reviews
Dined on March 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was a lovely evening. The food was great and the service wonderful. I would totally recommend Esca.

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E
18 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Disappointing meal. I ordered the Fritto Misto (fried seafood) which consisted almost entirely of fried calamari and a few shrimp, returned it and had the zuppa di pesce which was just ok, served without even a piece of bread to soak up the sauce. My fiance had the shrimp pasta with mint, which while different than basil was not as good, and not a great sauce. The pesce azzurri was good as an appetizer but couldn't make up for the rest of the meal. Not our first time here, but probably our last.

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OT
3 reviews
Dined on March 24, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 3ambience 5

Arrived for dinner at 6 pm when restaurant opened and they completely out of two of the five signature dishes.
Allergic to shellfish and therefore ordered pasta without lobster and was charged same price for pasta with tomato source. Fish was served cold. This restaurant which was very good years ago no longer has any standards at all and is coasting on taking advantage of tourists.

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