Barilla Launches New Restaurant In NYC And The Reviews Aren’t Good

Barilla hopes to put last September’s PR disaster involving chairman Guido Barilla telling gay people to “go and eat another brand” of pasta behind them. And what better way to do so than by opening a casual eatery in midtown Manhattan? Because if there’s one thing New York needs, it’s another discount Italian restaurant.

Academia Barilla is a cafeteria-styled lunch destination that offers affordable pasta dishes, pizzas, salads and paninis, all made from Barilla pastas and jarred sauces available at your local grocery store usually for under $1.99. Or, as CEO Stefano Albano describes it to the Wall Street Journal, “Americanized stuff.” He adds, “We are in business to also please people. That’s why I have Coke.”

The pasta giant hopes the new restaurant will become “the Italian version of Chipotle,” whatever that means. But by the looks of some Yelp reviews, they’ve got a long way to go.

“Bland mediocre Italian food ordered cafeteria style and served at communal tables for the area office workers to sustain themselves while performing their daily drudgery,” one person wrote.

“The food here straight up sucks,” another reviewer said.

“The place is usually packed with tourists,” someone else added. “Additionally, it’s some of the worst pasta I have ever tasted… This is midtown NYC – standards should be somewhat higher.”

But Albano doesn’t seem too concerned with the negative response. He told Wall Street Journal that he’s already started looking for two other locations in Herald Square and Bryant Park.

According to the restaurant’s manifesto, their aim is to “bring families around the table, where happiness, friendship and celebration is shared, old relationships are nurtured and new ones created, every time.”

We can’t help but wonder if that includes gay families.

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  • Cam

    F**K this anti-gay business.

  • GreatGatsby2011

    WTF is going on in that picture??

  • SpunkyBunks

    Olive Garden 2? They are deliberately locating these new restaurants in tourist zones. Not exactly targeting sophisticated palates. It sounds like they are going for the Walmart crowd. So gays probably won’t be hanging around in the first place.


    The food in the picture looks disgusting. Spaghetti in hot dogs with no sauce? YUCK!

  • mcflyer54

    Oh my God, spaghetti with cut up hot dogs. As Dr. Sheldon Cooper would say, “now that’s eye-talian”.

  • SteveDenver

    @GreatGatsby2011: I wondered the same thing about that photo: it looks like tape worms exiting hot dogs.

  • mcflyer54

    @PARKAVMAN: How do you lace spaghetti through hot dogs? And who has that much free time?

  • guydads

    A very kid friendly treat, the preschool set loves it. Thread 5-7 uncooked spaghetti strands through each hot dog piece. Cook until pasta is al dente, about 6 minutes.

  • mgmchicago


    you can push anything through a deliciously soft vienna sausage

  • Harley

    WHAT?? The chef-boy-r-de spegettio surprise wasn’t a hit? I’m crushed.

  • sejjo

    The spaghetti coming out of the sausage looks kinda creepy. Homophobic cuisine perhaps?

  • Desert Boy

    Stopped eating Barilla pasta after the homophobic CEO comments. Too many other superior box pasta products out there to eat. As for their brand new Manhattan eatery, if the food they’re serving is really that mess in the picture (spaghetti coming out of wieners) then you have to wonder who in their right mind would pay $$$ to eat this garbage?

  • the other Greg

    @guydads: Thanks for explaining! The picture was really freakin’ me out.

  • brettnyny

    I don’t think there’s much danger of gay people eating in his new restaurant since “dumbed down” ethnic food is not our style. Plus, no one from NYC will eat there. In this city with our heritage of Italian immigration dating from the late 19th century, any Mom-and-Pop Italian joint on the corner is usually better than the finest Italian restaurants in most other US cities I travel to. No one from NYC eats at the Olive Garden in Times Square. Let Chef Boy-ar-Discrimination fail.

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