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On looks alone, it recalls the Italian Riviera—bright and lively, filled with too many tourists for it to be cool, both physically and figuratively. But Sabbia—the summertime revamp of Eataly’s rooftop, which takes over the Italian Alps–themed winter pop-up Baita—is not as concerned with cool as it is with crowd-pleasing. Gooey, rib-sticking raclette has been traded for puffy clouds of Sardinian sheep’s-milk cheese; thyme-hopped ales subbed out for cheerful prosecco spritzers; and faux-snow–flecked pines shooed out for tall potted palms. It’s a beachy set-piece that seems made more for Instagram than for reality, but altogether, it’s a pleasantly low-pressure analogue to the usual jumpin’, bumpin’ New York rooftop.
ORDER THIS: Those sparkling-wine cocktails ($15), available in strawberry-orange, lemon-mint and basil-cucumber permutations, err on the super-sweet side. Better is a tart Limone-Jito ($16), brightening spiced rum with fresh and fragrant limoncello, plucky passion fruit puree, lime and mint; or a tequila-swilled Calabrese Sunrise ($16), which wisely tames the sweetness of fresh watermelon juice with a rim dusted with thrumming Calabrian chilies. Your best bet, however, is the festive beer flight ($12), featuring four four-ounce Collesi beers—ranging from a low-carbonation, babylights-blond Blonda to a bready Triplo Malto—ushered to your table in canary-yellow wooden boats.
GOOD FOR: A neutral safe zone where you can bring everyone from your visiting parents to a first-meeting Tinder date. Beneath a retractable glass roof that’s decorated with strung lights and upside-down striped umbrellas, the room is, like Eataly below, an all-ages affair: Towheaded youngsters amble for the decorative beach balls in between groups of impossibly tan, shiny-haired twentysomethings celebrating birthdays; off-work finance guys in rolled-up button downs take up tables next to floral-panted older women wondering why Mario Batali isn’t personally there. With all of those folks, the glass-enclosed space at times falls victim to greenhouse-effect stuffiness, but copious spinning fans and misting nozzles work overtime to keep temperatures down to a beachy balm.
THE CLINCHER: As with any Batali property, there’s plenty of Italian food to go around—but that’s not to say you should order everything here. Forget the secondi section of chef Fitz Tallon’s menu; it’s bogged down with undersalted eggplant stacks and rubbery octopus tentacles. Instead, you can make a fine spread from the snackier stuff: soft cheese and dry, porky cacciatorini ($9); fritto misto ($24), a crispy toss of plump shrimp and flaky white fish; and slices of grilled sourdough spread with Trickling Springs Creamery butter and briny, salted anchovies that still taste like the sea ($12). At Sabbia, eat light and drink heavy—basically, do as the Italians do.
at 23rd St
|Cross street:||200 Fifth Ave|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $15|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Wed, Sun 11:30am–11pm; Thu–Sat 11:30am–midnight|
|Do you own this business?|