There is a reason that 3 of Danny Meyers restaurants are on the top 10 list in NYC. The attention to detail at every turn, the community atmosphere among the staff makes an impact on the patrons, and perhaps the absolute desire to create something special every time. He also hires from within. The chef, Nick Anderer comes out of Gramercy Tavern. There is no doubt that he has another hit on his hand with Maialino.
The restaurant is located in the Gramercy Hotel. In the front room is the bar area which is perfect for leaning against for a glass of wine or an espresso in the morning. As you walk into the back, there is an area where the meats are sliced, the breads and desserts are shown, where the wares are part of the atmosphere. The back is filled with round tables and white table clothes. One of the details which is key are the acoustics. There is a good hum where ever you stand, the feeling of the restaurant, but you can talk with your dinner partners.
Last night, we went with 2 friends and basically split everything. The menu is broken down into 6 sections. Meats, Antipasti, Pasta, Main Courses, Sides and Cheese. We began with 2 appetizers. Tiny fried artichokes, deep fried and served with an anchovy bread sauce. Simple, tasty and a nice start. The artichokes were crispy on the top, and soft on the bottom. We also had the marinated sardines which had been added to the menu. Thinly sliced sardines served with chopped endive and a spicy sauce. This particular dish did nothing for me. The different ingredients just didn't connect.
The bread basket is a nice tough. Crusty breads, sesame seed covered crusted classic Italian bread and really thin breadsticks that have a nice cheese flavor served with a bowl of olive oil.
The pastas are excellent. Although simple, a spaghetti with pecorino and black pepper, was sublime. The pepper gave the pasta a kick. I could have eaten a huge bowl by myself. We also split a ravioli. One large ravioli stuffed with sage, mint and cheese. Yet, the genius of this ravioli was inside, on the top, was a soft poached egg that you can see through the pasta and it oozes into the dish when you cut it. Not easy to make and something that must have bread on the side to sop up every last bit.
For the main courses, we had 3. All delicious. The suckling pig is the signature dish and they go through so many a night that by 8 you can find that they are out of them. Not a bad idea to order one in advance. It is served cut up for you in pieces for 2-3 people. Crispy skin and chunks of buttery pork infused with a delicious rosemary taste served with cubed roasted potatoes. Fantastic. The swordfish is also good. Perfectly cooked, charred on the outside and served with a mixture of shaved mushrooms and fennel. The last entree was the chicken. Butterflied chicken probably grilled with the brick on top that makes it really juicy and the skin has a nice spicy bite.
We had a few sides. White beans and escarole. Would have liked to see more escarole in this dish. The beans over powered this. We also went with the special of braised red endive in red wine and then grilled. Delicious.
Ok, of course we had dessert. A slice of olive oil cake that had orange rinds. Rich, flavorful and moist. We also had the 3 gelatos of the evening which are made on the premises. Pistachio, a milky based one and red pear. Well done.
All and all, bravo. Open for breakfast in 2 weeks and then lunch in January. Truth is, you can't go wrong in any of Danny's restaurants. Maialino just gives you another choice. Classic Italian menu, and damn good for just being open 3 weeks.