Many of the restaurants in New York are best enjoyed at a certain time of day for a particular meal. But finding a restaurant where you feel equally at home for different meals, and the meals are equally as satisfying, is rare.
One of the only restaurants in New York where I feel I could spend all day is Maialino a
t the Gramercy Park Hotel. Lots of New Yorkers and New York food writers are familiar with the Maialino, so demand for a table or even a seat at the first-come first-first serve communal bar can be high. But even among the brunch crowds and dressed up dinner diners, I feel at home.
Part of this is because of the friendliness of servers, a trademark of Danny Meyer restaurants, and also because there is something amazing to eat at any time day.
During breakfast at Maialino, the sounds of the espresso machine beckons. And my eyes can’t avoid catching the dozens of pastries behind a glass case, obviously put in place to invite ogling but to protect from grubby hands like my own.
A breakfast there is impossible without a cortado and something from behind that case. My favorites are the toffee-glazed brioche bun and glazed lemon cake (the jam it’s served with changes regularly), but the almond croissant is another nice crunchy, flaky, chewy morning treat.
What I love about Mailaino for brunch are its wide windows that look out onto Gramercy Park, making it a pleasant place to linger over some weekend reading, and the bar tenders who are friendly enough to offer samples of wine if you ask enough questions. Though it’s not always on the menu, my favorite brunch item is the Fagioli e Salsiccia – white beans cooked with blood sausage and a perfectly done egg. It’s amazing with a sip of that sample wine.
I’ve moved away from typical brunch items lately (i.e. eggs, bacon, waffles), but some Sundays nothing but the the ricotta pancakes with kumquat jam will do. They’re everything you would hope for in a pancake – perfectly round, browned, and fluffy. The tartness of the kumquats is unexpected and a good contrast to the richness of the ricotta.
What I love about Maialino for lunch is the warm afternoon lull you may (or may not) find in the winter, and the satisfaction that comes after finishing the garganelli pasta. Garganelli is a small, tube shaped pasta and at Maialino is done in a tomato-y sauce, though the ingredients of the sauce rotate in and out. I’ve tried it with oxtail and pork.
In the event you’re carbo-loading, or not, I recommend a side of roasted potatoes, which are salty, a little cheesy, and fragrant with rosemary.
Dinner, with the elegant din of people eating and drinking, is a different experience. The restaurant feels romantic in the evening, even when I’m eating the massive and messy late night burger. For a more Italian and grown up, date-appropriate meal, I’d probably go for the crisp fried artichokes, and the carbonara or papardelle with milk braised pork ragu.
Also, according to wine-loving friends Maialino has an great wine list, if you’re into that kind of thing. I am rather a wine novice, but the wine list feels nearly as heavy as a bible and I’ve had some very enjoyable wine ordered, of course, by others more knowledgeable than me.
Perfect for: any meal if you want to impress someone
Perfect meal: cortado, toffee brioche bun, Fagioli e Salsiccia