Maialino: Dining in Hog Heaven

Many months ago, Dan and Miranda gave me a gift certificate to dine at Maialino, Danny Meyer’s restaurant located in the Gramercy Park Hotel.   I hadn’t been in the Gramercy Hotel for many years and was therefore overwhelmed by the stunning artwork and lively decor.  The Fernando Botero painting hanging over the fireplace in the hotel lobby attests to the edgy chicness of this trendy hotel in lower midtown Manhattan.  But we were here to eat, not sleep.

Sheila and I had twice made reservations at Maialino only to be thwarted by Hurricane Irene and an ice-storm.  Since it is almost impossible to secure reservations at any of Danny Meyer’s restaurants (Union Square Cafe is our favorite), we decided to risk an early seating a few days ago.  Thanks to the great diplomacy skills of Thérèse and my own modest acting skills of feigning a heart attack, we were quickly seated at one of the tables in the bar.  It’s a bit noisy, but certainly adequate and Maialino’s efficient staff was soon plying us with wine, which I explained to this nice young woman is far more effective at clearing blocked arteries than Lipitor.    They had a special on Sicilian wines and we found them quite comforting.  My chest pains disappeared almost immediately.

If you plan on dining at Maialino, you need to go in “whole hog.”   Following Dan’s glowing recommendations,   Thérèse and I split the roasted pork shoulder and potatoes shown above.  The crackling was precisely the right consistency – about 1/4″ thick and crunchy rather than chewy –  and the pork was as moist and flavorful as any I have eaten.  I was told that the pork roasts for about six hours and I can attest after many painful experiments, it is next to impossible to get pork cooked this perfectly.  Brilliant.

We also split a pasta dish of Bombolotti alla Gricia, which featured pasta similar to penne, but cooked to perfection with black pepper, guanciale (pig jowl) and a bit of Parmesan cheese and oil.   Wow!     The spinach was delicious and I also sampled the sweet breads wrapped in prosciutto.  Simply an amazing dining experience.   Bravo!!

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