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Maialino - not worth it?

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hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 01:07 PM

After reading multiple CH recommendations for Maialino, I made a reservation for a special dinner next month, but I've just read the recent reviews on menu pages and they are scorching! Especially regarding minuscule portions and slow service. Is that accurate? I don't want to lay out a lot of money to treat a party of five and feel like we barely ate anything. Please let me know what your recent experiences have been there. It took forever for me to decide on this place and now I'm having second thoughts.

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    sam1 RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 01:52 PM

    miniscule portions arent my issue. the food is super heavy and filling. ive walked out of there feeling like i left a steakhouse.

    my issue is that the food is more one-note...HEAVY...salty. the maialino can be ordered for one...its a massive piece of pig. good but pretty fatty and really isnt much different than a good piece of roast pig from a dominican place.

    the pastas are ok. my favorite thing there is a plum upside down cake...not entirely a raving review.

    the place is fine...i just dont find it to be special really.

    1. p
      plf515 RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 01:56 PM

      I have very much enjoyed my meals there and did not feel that it was a rip-off or that portions were small. That said, I haven't eaten there that much.

      Still, who ya gonna trust? Us or menupages?

      1 Reply
      1. re: plf515
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        hazel1 RE: plf515 Apr 23, 2013 09:43 PM

        Definitely you guys!

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        NYCPA RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 02:33 PM

        I had dinner there two weeks ago, and it was very good. I go there about once a month due to its proximity to my office. I don't find the portions to be miniscule, but I always order an appetizer and either a pasta or an entree, or split a pasta and order an entree. I find the service to be attentive, they have plenty of wait staff and you can always get someone to help you, whether it is their assigned table or not. They definitely don't rush you through your meal, but I have been in and out of there within an hour and 15 minutes when I needed to be. They have several round tables which I prefer for parties of 5 or more. Some restaurants will squeeze 5 into a table for 4 (which I hate), but not Maialino. I like that you can order a quartino of wine, which is more than a glass, but less than 2. I don't consider it to be that expensive. There are some things on the menu (i.e. rabbit at $48) that I wouldn't order, but if you split three appetizers and two pastas for the table and each order an entree, I think you will have more than enough food, and not break the bank. The Carciofini Fritti (Fried Artichokes & Anchovy Sauce) appetizer is good one to share. For pasta, my go to dish is the Tonnarelli a Cacio e Pepe, and for an entree I like the Pollo alla Diavola (Peppered Half Chicken & Pickled Chili). I have seen tables split entrees; maybe the rabbit and the branzino are priced the way they are because they are meant to be shared. Another option, if some of your party wants pasta as their main course, you could substitute two vegetables for the table to share instead of the pasta to share. I think it is an excellent choice for a special dinner and you will not be disappointed.

        1 Reply
        1. re: NYCPA
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          hazel1 RE: NYCPA Apr 23, 2013 09:45 PM

          Appreciate the detailed reply, nycpa.

        2. Ziggy41 RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 06:44 PM

          Worth it, worth it. Loved the Cacio e Pepe and the Carbonara. I'll be in Rome in a few months to compare

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            comiendosiempre RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 07:02 PM

            I also have enjoyed my meals there. None of the dishes, we think, are "stellar" but most all are very good. We have had good service. Good wine list and good sommelier, the wine list has many reasonable options. Good bread.

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              hazel1 RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 09:43 PM

              Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I feel much better now, and really appreciate the recos on menu items.

              1. mbfant RE: hazel1 Apr 23, 2013 10:49 PM

                I love it, and I live in Rome most of the time and never go to Italian restaurants anywhere else of my own volition. But when I'm hankering for the tastes of what is now home, I go to Maialino. In fact, we had my (Roman) husband's birthday party there last December, seven of us at a round table, with a lot of passing around and sharing and some dishes served family style. It was a total success. The staff are most accommodating and the kitchen skilled. I'm not a big piglet fan, but my husband is and approves theirs. I like the pasta with maialino, and the amatriciana is very tasty, as are all the Roman classics they do. I had their puntarelle (a Roman salad until recently practically unknown anywhere else) and was amazed. Portions are generous, but save room for dessert. (I love the bread pudding, but never have room for it.) Some of the comments about it are pretty much what I would expect to hear about any Roman restaurant, which, paradoxically, shows Maialino is doing it right. Although we see a difference between their food and what we have in Roman trattorias (with Maialino often winning the comparison), the concept is similar -- assertive tastes and good ingredients and don't go away hungry.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mbfant
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                  hazel1 RE: mbfant Apr 24, 2013 01:01 AM

                  Thanks mbfant - I have relied on your Rome restaurant recs on two past trips, so definitely appreciate your thoughts. Sounds exactly like what I was looking for.

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                  mari mac RE: hazel1 Apr 24, 2013 05:18 AM

                  I'd suggest doing Maialino for brunch instead of dinner. The toffee glazed brioche is probably one of my top 5 food items in NYC.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mari mac
                    erica RE: mari mac Apr 24, 2013 04:11 PM

                    More here:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738293

                    1. re: mari mac
                      ttoommyy RE: mari mac Apr 26, 2013 02:34 PM

                      Just my two cents:
                      You will get a much better feel for the true Roman trattoria at dinner, rather than brunch. While there are a number of Roman dishes on the brunch menu, a lot of it is typical NYC "brunchy" egg dishes and sweet breads.

                      1. re: ttoommyy
                        erica RE: ttoommyy Apr 27, 2013 06:19 AM

                        If you want Roman food, go for dinner. This is the report on one of my our firsts meal there.

                        erica May 24, 2011 11:47 PM
                        Thanks all! Keeping the tastes of my two companions in mind, we had a good dinner at Maialino last night. But I still have to go back and try the chicken and lamb chops!

                        Started with two shared appetizers: The celery salad with hazlenuts and shreds of Piave which was light, refreshing, and something we should keep in mind to attempt at home, and the insalata di piselli. The latter was fresh shelled peas topped with pea greens and ricotta salata (I am forgetting already--12 hours later)

                        One person ordered the Raviolo witih Egg--one large raviolo stuffed with ricotta. He was swooning and did not share even a bite.

                        Consensus was to go for the pig, which was a good as the first time. The skin is a marvel and the meat is tender throughout. Good thing because I have about half of it in my frig right now.

                        Dessert was a shared rhubarb crostata with fior di latte gelato. One word: Divine! You think you are a rhubarb hater (I once did, after a very bad childhood experience). Try this. It will change your mind about this underappreciated fruit. Or is it a vegetable?

                        We drank quartinos of Prosecco and a Moscato Giallo.

                        The restaurant is not overly loud, However, we were seated at a booth, back to back with a pontificating diner, a well-known food blogger.author here in NYC) whose voice had one volume level: Shouting. This was so distracting when we were trying to have a conversation (I can repeat much of what he yelled, verbatim!) that we did not linger.

                        All in all, a solid meal. Price for three was $188 before tip.

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                        Maialino
                        2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 1

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