The Pennsy – Midtown West, Manhattan – July 7, 2016
The Pennsy is one of the newer, high end food halls to open in Manhattan. This chef-focused food hall features five food booths (The Cinnamon Snail, The Little Beet, Lobster Press, Mario by Mary, and Pat LaFrieda), La Colombe coffee bar, and The Pennsy Bar. The Pennsy says,
“Vegans, omnivores, pescetarians, gluten-free,
and everything in between — we got you.” (http://www.thepennsy.nyc/, 2016)
Due to the location in Midtown Manhattan and focus on premiere chefs, this is a convenient, yet pricey, option. I was in the area at the time waiting to meet some friends, so I decided to grab lunch.
I chose to eat at Mario by Mary.
“This new Italian fast casual concept opens its first location with a delicious collaboration between chef Mario Batali and caterer-to-the stars author Mary Giuliani bringing to the table a mouth-watering and whimsical Italian sandwich and soup shop.” (http://www.thepennsy.nyc/mario-by-mary/,2016)
I ordered the truffle honey grilled cheese sandwich and the seasonal soup, which was gazpacho (pronounced gahz-pah-cho, a cold, vegetable soup, usually with a tomato base, that originated in Spain).
The grilled cheese was made with fontina, gruyere and black truffle honey on toothsome, crispy bread. The nutty cheese were thickly cut and melted to stretchy perfection. The black truffle honey brought the earthy, funky notes of truffles along with a balanced sweetness. This sandwich had a delicious flavor profile. It came with a small, plastic cup of giardiniera (pronounced jar-dee-nyair-uh, “an Italian or Italian-American relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar or oil” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giardiniera,2016) I tried it, but I did not like this particular one because it had cauliflower, which I do not enjoy.
The gazpacho had a tomato base that still had some of the tomato’s texture. It was slightly spicy, and had crunchy chunks of green peppers in it along with a surprise: slivered almonds and feta cheese. The nutty almonds and salty cheese added extra texture and flavor to this delicious soup.
The Pennsy is a good option for those passing through Penn Station or seeing a show or game at Madison Square Garden. It is in Midtown, so be prepared for the higher prices that are typical in this part of the city. That being said, the food I ate was quite good.
Accessibility Rating for The Pennsy
I used my rental wheelchair (my personal wheelchair was being repaired) to visit The Pennsy.
- Entryway – 5: There are four sets of side-by-side doors: two sets are outside before a vestibule and then two sets of interior doors. The transition from the outside into The Pennsy is smooth. There are no stairs.
- Bathroom (Men’s) – 4: The bathrooms are upstairs, and can be accessed by using an elevator in the rear of The Pennsy. The spacious, brightly lit men’s room has an accessible stall with two grab bars around the toilet. I was able to make a 180º turn while in the stall and in the bathroom. I had difficulty getting close to the sink, and had to sit parallel to it in order to reach the standard length handles on the standard height faucet.
- Walkways/Space – 3: The Pennsy is enormous, and it is spacious, particularly in the main aisle. The stanchions for the lines at each booth are set closely together, so I was unable to wait on line at the Mario by Mary booth. The staff allowed me to order directly from the register, but this was only after I pointed out to them that I could not pass through the line in my wheelchair. There are high tables with stools and average height tables with chairs throughout the dining area, and some areas are tightly packed. All of the furniture is moveable. I sat at an average height table with my footrests raised up, but it was a tight fit due to the table having a horizontal bar right underneath the tabletop. I was not able to get as close to the table as I would have liked. The space is brightly lit, and there was moderately loud background music playing while I dined there.
Video Description: Video shows interior of The Pennsy food hall on July 7, 2016. All of the food vendors have booths along the left side extending all the way to the back. There is a very wide aisle along the center extending to the back. People are walking up and down the aisle, and they are ordering food at the various booths. The seating area is along the right side. There are tall and average height wooden topped tables. The tall tables have tall yellow stools. The average height tables have chairs. People are sitting, eating, and talking at tables. There are floor to ceiling windows along the right way extending to the back of The Pennsy.
- Staff – 4: With the exception of the staff at Mario by Mary being inattentive to my being unable to access their booth without having it pointed out to them, I received exceptional service from the staff. A staff member held doors for me both as I entered and exited. He helped me bring my tray from Mario by Mary to a table that he let me select. He moved chairs out of the way so I could access the table. Another staff member removed my tray so that I would not have to bring it to the garbage. Overall, this was the best service I have received in a food hall.
- Braille Menus: They do not have Braille menus.