Carciofini Fritti: Fried artichokes & anchovy bread sauce. Coarse artichokes are transformed into a crispy and delicate appetizer. The creamy sauce cuts the slightly sour taste of the vegetable.
Salumi Misti & Olives. Mortadella, soppressata and speck (top to bottom). I wasn't crazy about the mortadella, which reminded me too much of bologna, but the speck was amazing, thinly sliced and salty.
Fettucine alle Cozze e Gamberi: Fettuccine with mussels and shrimp, a special on the menu. A fantastic red sauce — ever so slightly sweet and not bitter (as I find too many tomato-based sauces to be) — was bolstered by the bountiful amount of seafood and al dente pasta.
Spaghetti alle Vongole: Clams, white wine, & garlic. This is a dish I learned to love early in life, it being one of my dad's favorites. But many times I have been turned off by the heavy amount of garlic used in the dish. This pulled it off without relying on the flavor of the garlic, but rather the sweetness of clams, the wine and oil.
White beans and escarole was a lovely side, just slightly spicy from the greens.
For dessert, we ordered a trio of homemade gelato and sorbet — roasted almond chip, cinnamon toast and minted melon. I appreciated the range of interesting flavors and they were executed well. Unexpectedly, I liked the minted melon the best. My dining companion noted that she had expected the kitchen to use a green melon rather than the cantaloupe, but this was a great combination.
My dining companion on this evening, new to the restaurant, quickly become another fan of Maialino.