Anniversary dinner help: Maialino vs Marea
I will be in town for the US Open, and will be celebrating my anniversary as well. I have reservations at Maialino, which my brother-in-law swears by, and Marea, which was equally recommended by foodie friends in NYC.
I really wanted to go to Eleven Madison, but alas, they are closed.
Thoughts on which is a better bet, and always open if there's some spot that I might have overlooked.
Marea is BY FAR more "special occasion". Maialino is farmhouse casual to me. Food at Marea is far more intricate, sophisticated and uses more unique food combinations. While Maialino is very good I see them in two different classes of dining.
If you were hoping to dine at Eleven Madison Park, then you'd probably be better served by Marea. It's much more of a formal, 'occasion' restaurant than Mailino. The latter's atmosphere is a slightly hip bourgeois hotel's rendition of a Roman trattoria [that's not to say it isn't wonderful -- I enjoy it very much]. Try Googling some photos of the dishes, which will give you an idea of the differences in style between the two.
Also note that Marea is ostensibly a seafood restaurant: lots of oysters, crudo, seafood pastas. There are some meat dishes though. You might also consider White's Ai Fiori if you'd prefer a few more terrestrial dishes.
While I like Maiaino a lot, I agree with the others that it is not a special occasion restaurant. I am not, however, a fan of Marea. I do think Winterpool's suggestion of Ai Fiori, a favorite of ours is a good one.
You might also want to consider Del Posto, a "NY Times" 4-star. We just ate there for the first time, and it was a truly impressive experience in every aspect -- cuisine, service, and ambiance. Definitely a perfect place for a celebratory meal.
Del Posto photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...