I posted about my experiences at Convivio recently and was generally disappointed. I feel the same way about Maialino. I've sampled many of the dishes and found that the occasional standout is drowned in a sea of dull dishes.
I had the Grande Selezione di Salumi to start the meal. I'd be lying if I said that I knew how to review a restaurant's ability to serve me salame and prosciutto . The Insalata Misticanza is boring and a waste of valuable stomach space. The pre- pasta highlight was the Carciofini Fritti. The fried artichokes worked brilliantly with the Anchovy Bread Sauce.
I tried three types of breads and wasn't impressed. The pastas that I tried were not up to par. Spaghetti alle vongole is just a very weak dish for a restaurant that presents itself in this manner. I also had a rigatoni with Black Pepper, Guanciale & Egg. This dish was close to being very good but didn't have enough guanciale. The sauce was the highlight and it mixed well with the rare spot of guanciale. I sopped some of it up with the bread.
The best dish of the night was actually the Pollo alla Diavola. The picked chili and black pepper added a great flavor to the chicken. The chicken skin was very nice. I was very disappointed with the Maialino al forno. I guess I just didn't get the dish. Sam Sifton described it as "an apparently unambitious preparation that tastes just great — pork at its best." I couldn't disagree more. If I want an unambitious pork preparation I'll do it myself. The Pesce Spada was average.
I tried three of the desserts but by this point I was pretty stuffed so my opinion may be skewed.
The service was excellent. My only complaint is that Stephen Mancini took away a half drunk beer without asking. It may have been because we had moved to wine but nevertheless it bothered me.
Maybe I just need to go back to Babbo.
2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010