Sabbia by La Birreria

Summer time is a great time to dine at a rooftop restaurant. And there are some pop-up rooftop restaurant that you can find, which will be a bit more unique, since it will be available a limited time only. I found a beautiful looking pop-up rooftop restaurant at Eataly. By the books and restrooms on the first floor, you will find this cute wooden sign with colorful paper lanterns. Here, you check in with the staff at the counter, and then directed to an elevator. We had an reservation for Sunday brunch, so it was all easy.

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You take the elevator to 14th floor, and then follow the sign to the restaurant. You will find a staircase to get to the rooftop, and as you go up, you will see cute, beach-y wallpaper and decoration, and a vespa. There is a hostess counter where they will take you to your seat.

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From here, you are transported to this bright, beautiful, beach-y setting that is just very pretty to look at, and feel happy and fun just being in this space. There are Sunbrellas to give enough shades, fans to keep the air moving, and colorful umbrellas hanging upside down… The name of the restaurant, Sabbia means “Sands” in English, and it does make you feel like you are at a beach side with all the fun decoration.

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There is a large bar on the left side as you walk into this space. If you don’t have a reservation, you could sit at this area, and still get the full menu offerings. The bar has more than enough seats, many bar stools at the bar counter, and also there is a long counter seating right across from the bar, in additions to bar tables and chairs.

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The main dining area is a nice size. They have tables for two, four, and large groups as well, ready to accommodate party of all different sizes. The roof can also be closed off in case of rain, so they are open rain or shine, which is really great!

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They have large, antique-style wooden chest that they use as a bar table, which was really nice. Also, they had this really adorable tent in one section, making the place look more and more like the Italian beach resort. It would’ve been fun if they had actual sand on the floor, but that I will assume will require much more maintenance, and not very good to have on a windy day.

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Once we got seated, they brought us some complimentary bread, which I am sure were baked right there at Eataly. It was nice and moist, soft and tasty.

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The waitress was nice, she answered our questions about the menu, nice amount of information and recommendation. We haven’t heard too much of a high review on the food that they serve here (or the service on that matter), so we did not come here with high expectation, and we did not come here hungry. LOL.

We went with some Spiendi – which are cubes or balls of meat cooked on a skewer. The waitress told us that an order will come with 2 skewers each. We chose Salsicca e Cime di Rapa ($10), Gamberetti alla Bagnara ($9), and Manzo e Banga Cauda ($8). They came on a cute little wooden serving board.

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I knew the serving size would be small, but I was still a but surprised of how small the portion really was, especially each order was average of $9/two skewers… The Salsicca e Cime di Rapa are Sweet Italian Sausage with Broccoli Rabe balls. It came with two meatballs on each skewer. The meat was sweet, but had enough salt, maybe just a bit too much salt. Other than that, it was packed with flavor, I really enjoyed it.

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The Gamberetti alla Bagnara are Seared Shrimps with Oregano, Parsley, Garlic & Lemon Zest. We each got two shrimps on a skewer. It had a really nice lemon flavor, plump, and the seasonings were really nice.

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Manzo e Banga Cauda are Grilled Snake River Wagyu Beef with Seasoned Olive Oil. This one had just one strip of beef on a skewer, but a nice size strip. It was really juicy and tender, and just the right amount of salt. At this point, I was thinking their food is not so bad, but they are actually quite tasty!

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After we finished the skewers, we wanted to order just one more item of something before moving onto the dessert. We decided to order one of their oysters. We chose half-dozen oysters ($18) from Massachusetts, called Naughty Pilgrims . Yes, I confess, we chose this one because of the name…! LOL They are smaller than some others, and milder taste. They were fresh, not fishy, which was great.

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They have a daily selections of fresh, sustainable oysters, and they shack them right there when the orders are put in, on a cute little boat. I really enjoyed their interior decorations, they have certainly paid attention to every little detail, creating this magical, relaxing, Italian beach resort space on the rooftop. And that is essentially what you are paying for, more than just the food, but for the atmosphere and ambiance.

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Since the oysters were really on the small side, just as informed, we finished the half-dozen in a matter of minutes. Now, time for desserts! They didn’t have large dessert menu, but they had very basic Italian desserts, such as Gelato and Tiramisu. We went with Tiramisù Classico ($8) and Cannoli Siciliani ($9), and Cappuccino ($4.50). The TTiramisù Classico came in a glass, a bit on a small side. It was super creamy and velvety, sweet and melt in your mouth. It had a very thin layer of coffee soaked Lady Fingers on the bottom, mainly just cream with tiny little amount of Lady Fingers in the glass. If you are looking for a dessert with more substance or something solid, this is not the one.

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The Cannoli Siciliani was a delightful surprise. It came with Three Chocolate Covered Sicilian Cannoli filled with Sheep Milk Ricotta Cream & Candied Orange. They noted that their “Crunchy ‘little tubes’ filled with sweet flavored cream, our traditional cannoli are just like the smaller original dolci invented in southern Sicilia, where they are still found everywhere from street carts to the finest restaurants.” Now, I am not a huge Cannoli fan, but this one I really loved! It was nothing like I’ve ever had. They had great orange flavor, good amount of chocolate coating, sweet without being overly sweet. It was awesome with refreshing summery flavor. They also had the filling on the bottom a little, in order to keep the Cannoli in its place. And, we get extra yummy filling. Win win in my opinion. The filling didn’t taste like regular Ricotta, it was so flavorful, rich, decadent. And I felt like this was the best deal they had, $9 for three of these babies are not bad at all.

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The cappuccino was nice. Although nothing really special, it went great with our desserts. Nice amount of foam, good, solid coffee.

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Overall, we had a good time on the rooftop. It was a bit windy, but that didn’t bother us too much. our seat had a nice sunbrello, creating cooler, comfortable shade which was great. The service was slow, which we expected. It seemed like they didn’t have many servers for the space. I heard our waitress conversing with Italian customers (at the next table) in Italian. I wonder if all the servers speak Italian at Sabbia? That will be a cool touch. The food was small and pricey, again, just as expected. What we didn’t expect was that they were all pretty good, we enjoyed everything that we had here. Being able to have a weekend brunch at this relaxing oasis on a rooftop really is an experience on its own.

And they do have restrooms, just down the stairs to get back to the elevator. Even here, they keep the Italian beach decor, but only on the outside. It is not a large restroom, but it does the job.

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Again, this restaurant is a pop-up rooftop restaurant, so they are only here until sometime in October. So if you are interested in getting some relaxing rooftop dining experience, head over to Eataly before they disappear! I recommend NOT to go there on empty stomach, as the food portion is really small.

Sabbia by La Birreria – 200 Fifth Avenue, 14th Fl. New York, NY 10010

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