Eataly's Sabbia: a Slice of the Mediterranean Sea in the Concrete Jungle
Growing up, my family used to spend every summer on the sandy beaches of Puglia; we would pack our car all the way back in Milan, leave during the night (so that we could beat traffic) and drive all across the country, looking forward to being on the beach... basking in the sun, playing in the water, eating lots of seafood and ice cream.
One of my favorite things ever was to eat under the big umbrella or while running around with
the other kids: that meant there were a lot of spiedini, skewers, from the mozzarella and tomato ones to the grilled shrimp ones.
Never would I have thought that I could re-relive those moments back in Manhattan, at Eataly's new pop-up restaurant Sabbia (Sand). Located on the rooftop of the beloved Flatiron location, Sabbia is a slice of the Mediterranean in the middle of the concrete Jungle, a place that comes complete with cabanas, colorful lounge chairs and palm trees.
A resort looking place where you can enjoy a Salsiccia e Cima di Rapa Spiedino, Sweet Sausage and Broccoli Raabe skewer, reminiscent of traditional Apulian flavors, a Sorrento Spritz, a cocktail featuring Prosecco, mint, cucumber and Sorrento lemon juice that is so light and fresh that goes down just like fresh water, or, if you have a sweet tooth, a classic Cannolo Siciliano, three chocolate covered crunchy pastry tubes, filled with sheep milk ricotta cream and candied orange. “The original cannoli were invented in Southern Sicilia, where they are still found everywhere from street carts to the finest restaurants,” Sabbia's dessert menu claims.
“A section of the menu,” Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly's USA told i-Italy, “is totally dedicated to having fun on the go, that's why we have a selection of Spiedini, either with seafood, meats or vegetables, quick Antipasti and traditional Piadina.”
At the opening of Sabbia the Gamberetti alla Bagnara skewers were among the most popular culinary treats that were being passed around. Made with seared shrimp, oregano, parsley, garlic and lemon zest, these flavorful skewers were inspired by Bagnara, a seaside town in southern Calabria. The Fritto Misto alla Ligure, assorted fried seafood Ligurian style, was abundant, as were sourdough crostini topped with Trickling Springs Creamery butter and salted anchovies.
“When we go to the beach,” Farinetti continued, “we eat lighter and we kept that in mind when Executive Chef Fritz Tallon designed the menu. We eat later and we want to have fun. The beach was, and still is, a magical place: the place where kids fall in love for the first time, where there was no curfew and everybody would have fun. When you go back later, as an adult, you bring your memories with you and the place is still magic.”
Magic is the cocktail list that has been created with bubbles as a central ingredient, as bubbles make everything seem lighter. We have mentioned the Sorrento Spritz earlier but there is also a delicious Berry Bollicine, made with a rose bubbly, Mirto Amaro, strawberry, peach and Niasca Mandarinata and a selection of cocktails made with Ferrari sparkling wines.
Those who don't do bubbles should not despair, there are plenty of other signature drinks to chose from, some with very unique names - the Italian Stallion is made with Makers Mark Bourbon, white peach puree, lemon and mint; the Calabrese Sunrise is made with tequila, fresh watermelon juice and lemon and is served in a Calabrian chile-sugar rimmed glass; the Anna Magnani, conceived in honor of the great actress, is made with gin, strawberry puree, rosewater, basil and lemon, strong and delicate at the same time, just like her.
“Lightness is what we want to feature in our food, drinks and atmosphere,” Farinetti concluded, “lightness is what brings us back to the beaches of our youth. It's represented even in the signs we have hung on the walls. 'The lifeguard is on a beer break,' one of them says. It's fun and realistic at the same time, because we created Sabbia to have fun. To relive the joy of those beaches even here in Manhattan.”