MAIALINO – NYC
Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave. (nr. 21st) New York, NY 10010
Maialino is one of my favorite go-to spots in NYC for brunch, lunch or dinner. Frankly, everything about the Gramercy Park Hotel is just really well done. I have written about the rooftop in the past and my praise for Maialino is no different.
The restaurant is restauranteur Danny Meyer’s Roman Trattoria and boasts some of the best pasta dishes in the city. And obviously, given the name, some of the best pork. The ambiance is a nice balance of rustic and sophisticated with wooden tables and a casual bar where many of the desserts are displayed like a bakery but the service and quality of the food bring it up several notches.
The menu often changes at Maialino because chef Nick Anderer uses seasonal and local ingredients. On this particular night my friend and I ordered a few dishes to share. We started with a fresh salad of shaved radicchio with a lemon dressing and parmesan cheese and the special appetizer which was sweetbreads wrapped in prosciutto.
We hit two birds with one stone by ordering the Malfatti al Maialino or pappardelle with suckling pig ragu. This dish was a house made super-wide pappardelle with big chunks of juicy pork in a buttery sauce. With just a few wilted greens for color this is the perfect example of perfectly executed Italian simplicity.
As our meat dish we ordered the garganelli al sugo di coniglio which was rabbit ragu with olives. This was a gamey dish of tender rabbit loin that popped with complementary flavors of olives, ramps and bitter greens. The rabbit was well seasoned and cooked medium rare but lightly char grilled on the outside.
A must order side dish is the carciofini fritti which is basically just baby fried artichokes served with a caesar inspired anchovy dipping sauce. I have had my fair share of fried artichokes as I will order them off any menu they show up on. These are some of the best I have had- you can eat the entire thing without getting any tough inedible leaves which I have frequently encountered elsewhere. These tender, crispy little ‘chokes won’t last very long on the table.
The torta della Nonna is a traditional Italian dessert of creamy custard baked into a buttery crust which is topped with toasted pine nuts. Even if you don’t think you have room for dessert an espresso and a bite of this pie is pretty nice.
At brunch one of the best dishes is the porchetta and fried egg sandwich. The crusty fresh bread serves as the perfect vehicle to soak up the runny egg which is draped over a heaping pile of juicy pork with a little bit of baby arugula. This is kind of like the brunch version of the pork pasta.
My one complaint is that my favorite dish was removed from the menu some time ago – the raviolo al uovo. This was a giant raviolo with a runny egg yolk in the center that created its own sauce for the cheesy, brown buttery pasta topped with crispy sage leaves. Please bring it back!
Maialino is the perfect restaurant for dinner with the parents, a date of any kind or just a casual dinner at the bar. Just make sure to make reservations unless you’re not planning on being anywhere for a while.