Monday, August 09, 2010

Summer Restaurant Week: Maialino

After a couple of good experiences at Danny Meyer's newest, Maialino, I jumped at the chance to book a Restaurant Week reservation there. I had also heard rumors that they were giving out vouchers toward a future breakfast.

Lunch began with a basket of assorted fresh bread from the bread counter here. I could live off that bread and the quality olive oil served with it.

We started with smoked swordfish, pickled onion and caperberry and mizuna. I have never heard of smoked swordfish much less seen it on a menu. This was a sharp dish with the right flavors to highlight a fairly mild fish.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we ordered the tripe, pecorino & mint. If you associate tripe with chewiness, you'd be pleasantly surprised here. The tripe was tender, similar in texture to cheese. The tomato sauce, ever so slightly sweet, and pecorino made this dish go down easily.

The ricotta ravioli with lemon, brown butter and sage were intense little pockets of cheese. Each one packed a heavy punch and it was almost hard to finish my half, but they were too good to let go to waste. But I don't think I'd want to eat the entire plate on my own.

My dining companion had a hankering for steak so we ordered the skirt steak that came with heirloom beans & escarole. As careful readers might note, I'm not a big red meat eater. But this was nicely charred on the outside and perfectly cooked to medium. The stew-like beans on the side would make a great meal on their own.

The olive oil cake with vanilla bean mascarpone was the dessert we knew we wanted. It was a dense wedge infused with the flavor of olive oil and a touch of lemon. The vanilla bean mascarpone was a good partner.

Our waitress suggested that the sage panna cotta with raspberry compote would be a better pairing than the cheesecake, so we went with it. And she was right. The panna cotta was simple and smooth with the raspberries adding just a touch of sweetness. Though the cup looks small, it was rich and making it to the bottom left us definitively full.

The service was friendly, as I have always found it to be, with our server extremely accommodating of questions and full of recommendations. And we had an exquisite meal. Unfortunately it turned out the vouchers I had heard about were given out only during the first week of Restaurant Week. Nonetheless, I know I'll be back on my own.

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