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#1 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:28 PM

I squeezed in here very early - it opened last Wednesday - and thought it was terrific. I forgive Danny Meyer for the cremated duck confit at USC.

This might even be an important restaurant. Here are some reasons why:

(1) Maialino doesn't just "evoke" a Roman trattoria. I am so over all this evoking - a series of publicist-driven fantasies. Meyer and chef Nick Anderer (formerly at Gramercy Tavern) have seized the pig by the tail. They mean it. Meat here is not edited down into neat, New York-friendly terrines and "torchons," not boned and and trimmed and civilized. From the small, oval plates to the candidly unadorned entrées, Maialino says "old Europe" in a mouthwatering way. And I do mean Europe - I was reminded of Pied de Cochon in Les Halles as much as any backstreet canteen in Rome.

(2) Maialino is unique. We have upscale Italian - SD26, Felidia - we have countless red sauce joints, and we have the Batali empire. Maialino is different: okay, the closest thing to Maialino is Lupa, but Batali's osteria Romana is, dare I say it, a tamer affair of greenmarket vegetables and composed plates.

(3) Maialino squares the fine dining/new paradigm circle. What? Well the critics have been bullying us for the last couple of years into acknowledging that the way we eat now is by bellying up to a no reservation dining counter and slouching over a batch of small plates, served in random order, shouting between bites over the kitchen's choice of death metal and classic rock. Maialino is relaxed; it's informal; it serves all kinds of pig parts. But it's also casually elegant - over checked trattoria table cloths, Meyer lays white linen. Service is not hipsterish. And you can - and should - reserve.

More reasons and the food itself at the Pink Pig.

#2 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:33 PM

Oy. My nearly vegetarian Midwestern brother-in-law is not going to like this.

(Too bad. He and his wife are going anyway.)
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#3 Anthony Bonner

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:39 PM

oh - added to the list for once the SO is walking again.

"This is a battle of who blinks first, and we've cut off our eyelids"


#4 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:40 PM

I think there are alternative routes through the menu. smile.gif

#5 oakapple

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:42 PM

We are looking forward to it. Our reservation is in mid-December.
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#6 Wilfrid

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 03:47 PM

Let's hope it holds up. I couldn't resist the quick Open Table opening, and since it was good decided to write about it.

#7 Jesikka

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 05:49 PM

My meal Thursday night at Maialino was very promising. We didn't try a huge number of things, but we had the frito romano, cacio e pepe, the malfatti with maialino, the whole sea bass and the melanzane parmagiana.

First, we started with VERY delicious breads in a basket. Served with olive oil. I believe they sell the breads. I especially liked a crusty bread with sesame seeds on the crust.

The frito romano was a fried artichoke and breaded sweetbreads dish served with a lemon aioli. This dish was ok, but a bit flavorless. The artichokes themselves were reminiscent of the Ssam Bar artichoke dish (ie: panfried and delicious), but the sweetbreads themselves were a bit bland. The were fried in a nice olive oil, but just ended up a bit bland. Typical chicken-nugget style sweetbread.

The two pastas were really great. The cacio e pepe had a medium sized noodle, on the eggy side. Nice texture. The malfatti had amazingly flavorful maialino pieces with it. There was some flat parsley on top, which I didn't think was adding much. The braised pig in this dish was so delicious that it made me sorry that we didn't order the maialino for two (seemed expensive at $68). We did see it get delivered to a table next to us. It looked awesome. I asked what farm the pigs were from (they were big on talking about the farms), but for some reason nobody knew. Sounded like a last minute change or something.

Our main course, the whole sea bass was served to us filleted. More flat parsley. I don't get it. Nice flavor, perfect cooking, delicious olive oil, proper salting. Very nice, if a bit boring. We also got the melazane parmagiana, which was thick round slices of eggplant with a delicious sauce and cheese. They call it a main course, but our waiter suggested it as a side dish and it was perfect for that.

Service was typical Danny Meyer- very nice, very enthusiastic. I'll be excited to see how this place evolves.

#8 nuxvomica

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 06:14 PM

QUOTE(Wilfrid @ Nov 16 2009, 03:47 PM) View Post
Let's hope it holds up.

it will. at least through the reviews laugh.gif

i'm sure it will and look forward to going
“Eat me,’’ it says. “Eat me and die.’’ -- Jonathan Gold

Everything is always OK in the end. If it's not OK, then it's not the end.

#9 Jesikka

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 06:38 PM

QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Nov 16 2009, 03:33 PM) View Post
Oy. My nearly vegetarian Midwestern brother-in-law is not going to like this.

(Too bad. He and his wife are going anyway.)


There's actually plenty for a vegetarian.

#10 Sneakeater

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 06:54 PM

I'm more worried about his even looking at the pig's foot.
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#11 ulterior epicure

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 06:57 PM

QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Nov 16 2009, 06:54 PM) View Post
I'm more worried about his even looking at the pig's foot.

A Midwestern vegetarian should be used to it.
“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.” – Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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#12 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 03:33 PM

This place is terrific.

It's weird to walk into a place located across the lobby from the formerly frosty Rose Bar ("formerly" because has anybody gone there in over a year?) and be greeted by that hyper-friendly Danny Meyer welcome. And the food matches the welcome. A smash.

The zampina is as great as Wilfrid says, and everybody should have it. Since everything everybody had at my table (we all shared) -- including the vegetable antipasti and contorni that my stubborn vegetarian brother-in-law subsisted on -- was great, the only thing I'll note is that is that excellent coda all vaccinara, which my sister-in-law and I split on our waiter's recomendation after we both ordered it, is in a portion that no single human being could conceivably finish. Oh, I guess I'll add that the bavette with cod and a light tomato sauce was just a beautiful pasta dish. But then the malfatti with braised pig, while not beautiful, was amazingly flavorful, as Jesikka has said.

This place is better than Locanda Verde and Lupa, the closest comparisons. Not so much better as to obviate those other places, but now you know where at least one diner places it in the quality scale. And given its provenance, I doubt it will decline precipitously after the review cycle.

Finally, as Wilfrid says, it's probably the most "authentic" Italian restaurant in New York (well, Sora Lella -- although I have to say, as heretical as it may seem, that Maialino is better).

This restaurant is what it is, of course. Despite the fact that there's virtually nothing wrong with it, it's not one of the great restaurants of New York. But for good, hearty, honest, almost elemental food, it's a destination for sure.

I only wish they served the full menu at the bar. Although I'm sure the bar menu is fine.
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#13 nuxvomica

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 03:53 PM

QUOTE(Sneakeater @ Nov 25 2009, 03:33 PM) View Post
I only wish they served the full menu at the bar. Although I'm sure the bar menu is fine.

i wish they did. alas, the bar menu is not particularly exciting. best thing i had was a special, an amatriciana. the porchetta sandwich was bland, the guanciale pecorino rolls eh (extra greasy focaccia with glops of guanciale and cheese in the center), smoked pancetta also muted flavor-wise, fried artichokes could have used some lemon juice instead of the heavy anchovy-bread sauce served along them for dipping.

the bruschetta romana - crostini with lardo spread - was probably best of the bunch, along with the amatriciana.

there is a nice salumi and cheese selection but i can have those at home (and often do).

they funny thing is, they actually offered us the dining room menus "to look at" laugh.gif

i hope they will expand the offerings at the bar at some point (once they get kinks worked out, etc.) i have a sense that enough people are asking
“Eat me,’’ it says. “Eat me and die.’’ -- Jonathan Gold

Everything is always OK in the end. If it's not OK, then it's not the end.

#14 Wilfrid

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 04:23 PM

Told ya.

I assume the oxtail was on a similar scale to the lamb's neck, which could certainly have been split too.

ETA: Dare I say it, this is surely not a restaurant suited to bar dining.

#15 Sneakeater

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 04:53 PM

QUOTE(Wilfrid @ Nov 25 2009, 04:23 PM) View Post
ETA: Dare I say it, this is surely not a restaurant suited to bar dining.


I'm curious why you say that.
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