Maialino

16 Jun

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.

bar
One of the only restaurants in New York where I feel I could spend all day is Maialino at 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.
Cortado
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.
lemoncake
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.
beansFront
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.
pancake
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.
PastaAndWine
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.
Burger
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.
Papardelle
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

 

Neighborhood: Gramercy/Flatiron

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Cha-An

3 Apr

Lately I’ve been revolting against brunch. I never thought my love of ricotta pancakes and stuffed french toast would wane, but New York’s restaurants offer such variety that many brunch menus have started to look uninspired.

For a very un-brunch midday meal on a Saturday or Sunday, I love to go to Cha-An. This petite tea house on the second story of a nondescript building in East Village is the perfect antidote to New York’s “favorite” brunch destinations that offer leaden eggs Benedict and hour long waits for a table.

photo 1_E

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Amy Ruth’s

5 Nov

There’s such an astounding concentration of restaurants in Manhattan, it’s easy to find good food without walking more than a few blocks. And thanks to seamless.com, you probably don’t even have to leave your house. But there are a lot of neighborhoods worth going out of your way for if you’re craving something special.

 This weekend in New York was blustery and cool, and you could feel that winter is around the corner. It was the kind of weather that makes you miss home, and home cooked meals. There’s nothing homier or more comforting to me than soul food (or maybe a good cassoulet…), so I made the easy trek up to Harlem, which is arguably the best area in or near the city the find soul food.

Fiiiiine Dining in NYC

3 Sep

Restaurant week in New York has long since wrapped up, but I’m not getting around to writing about some of the restaurants I was able to visit until now. Oops. It’s just as well though, because I would return to any of these restaurants again. If I could afford them…

What I love about restaurant week is that it gives you the chance to try out places that would ordinarily devour an unhealthy portion of your paycheck. You’d save places like these for special occasions. Granted, a $38 dinner is still pricey, but worth every dollar at the restaurants I was able to go to.

Telepan, in the Upper West Side, offers very elegant American favorites, using organic and seasonally changing ingredients. Though the restaurant emphasizes freshness in its ingredients, the mood felt a little stale because of the outdated furnishings and artwork that bordered on cheesy. But the food is really well executed. It’s the kind of place I would take parents visiting from out town, though not my first pick for a dinner date.

corn blini with smoked trout - truly awesome

corn blini with smoked trout – truly awesome

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South Beach: Yardbird

19 Aug

Despite being one of the southern most cities in the US, I ordinarily would never trust Miami to produce quality southern cooking. For ceviche and cuban sandwiches I would go to Miami, but for grits and collard greens in Florida, I figured you’d be better off in a place like Gainesville.

Perhaps Gainesville does have great southern food, but so does a restaurant on South Beach called Yardbird. And I much prefer the trip to South Beach than to Gainesville…
Collage1
Yardbird is not the quaint, whole-in-the-wall with 30 year old linoleum tiling where I might normally seek out soul food. Actually it has many of the same characteristics you would expect of any restaurant on South Beach – beautiful customers, pricey custom cocktails, and a steady wait for a table any time after 9pm.
Simple Provisions

Food does not need to be fancy to be celebrated

David Lebovitz

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