Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Finally. Date Night. A Success: Maialino at the Gramercy Park Hotel

I am slowly getting more comfortable with leaving my baby boy with a sitter. I'm a little obsessive-compulsive and a tad bit of a control-freak, so it's no picnic for my sitter either. It's bad enough being stressed about leaving your six-month old with a complete stranger but it's even worse when the date-night dinner you had been so looking forward to culminates with mediocre food.

The last few restaurants the hubby and I have been to had been hyped up but we left feeling disappointed. This losing streak changed last night when we were finally able to snag a table at Maialino!

Maialino is the impossible-to-get-into Italian restaurant that is part of Danny Meyer's culinary empire (of Union Sqaure Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and ofcourse Shake Shack-fame, amongst others) located at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

We got to the restaurant at 910pm for a 930pm reservation, and found it to be at almost 50% occupancy. I was elated since that meant we were seated sooner but puzzled as to why I was unable to get an earlier reservation. Could there have been that many last-minute cancellations?



Anyhow, by 930pm the dining room had filled up and the place was popping.

Source: NYTimes

The decor is very 'Roman trattoria'. You walk past the bread and salumi station...

Source: NYTimes

..to get to the dining room where there are wooden floors, oak wainscotting and white on top of blue and white checked table cloths.

Source: Mailino
The place did get packed but the noise was not a bother. I hate going to restaurants where you cannot hear yourself think and this wasn't the case here.

The food was amazing! We started off with the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe- ribbons of pasta prepared with pecorino and pepper. So simple and yet so delicious!

For our entrees we shared another pasta dish, this time the Garganelli- tube shaped pasta (similar to penne) with braised rabbit, green olives and rosemary; and the Pollo alla Diavola: Half chicken with black pepper and pickled chili.

Pollo alla Diavola

Everything was superb! The pasta was cooked just right and the flavors were not overpowering. The portion sizes were great too. Some people have complained that the portions are too small-I disagree, I think they are just right.

For dessert we opted to have the gelato, trying the trio of olive oil, straciatella and tiramisu flavors.

All in all, it was a perfect evening. Good food, great ambiance, excellent service. Date night is back with a bang!

Apparently had we been there a few hours earlier we may have caught a glimpse of Lady Gaga who was staying at the hotel!

Q: What is your favorite date-night spot?

21 comments:

Lauren said...

Went for a part but haven't been back, your raving makes me want to go. Love down and dirty mexican for a date (cabrito is a favorite), we also love soccorat paella bar. I was a nut leaving my first son, gets a little too easy over time.

sofia said...

olive oil gelato?! phenomenal!

i agree with lauren - good old mexican grub is a favorite. and i love the pizza and wine combo, especially in the west village. anywhere in the west village, followed by gelato at cones, can't be beat!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Lauren: I have not been to Cabrito although Soccarat is on my list. Thanks for the rec!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Sofia: Yes, you are spot on! Pizza places are always great date places. Co in Chelsea's a favorite of mine.

Jess said...

Ohh how hard is it to get into? Trying to figure out where to go when we're in town in a couple of weeks! Grammercy Tavern was the top choice by my boss who lived in NYC for years, we have a rez there at 10pm (UGH so late) but was hoping for another option that could get us an earlier table for sure.

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Jess: Gramercy Tavern's great. Maialino's newer and just like all new restaurants, prime-time weekend dinner reservations are hard to come by unless you make them a month up front.

If you're interested email me at momathebarre@gmail.com with what type of cuisine you're interested in and I would be happy to give you some suggestions.

Rach @ Girl on the Run said...

Oh I'm so jealous you got to go to Maialino's...it's on my "list"!

Ameena said...

I'm glad you finally had a night out at a place that isn't overrated! That happens to us all the time and since we rarely go out child-less it upsets me when our outings are marred with bad food.

How do you eat so late? I am envious because if I don't get dinner by 8 pm things get...ugly.

Jill said...

YUM! I want to check it out. My huz went for a work dinner so he owes me a visit ;)

PS: don't worry about being stressed about the babysitter. I was and am still like that. Although now that I have someone I trust, nights are so easy bc I know he's sleeping.

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Rach: It was on my "list" for the longest time!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Ameena: Its very hard to eat so late but since getting a better time slot here involved selling a kidney I prepped beforehand by opting to take a long afternoon nap and a small early evening snack.

The things we do for a good meal around here...

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Jill: I am getting more comfortable with our sitter now and it definitely helps that he is asleep also.

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

That looks awesome! We need to check it out! I still get really nervous every time I leave Peanut with a sitter. It's hard to give up control, sometimes. I think it's natural. But getting out is sooo worth it. At least that's what I always tell myself :)

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Sarah: I completely agree- it is so worth it. I would go bat-crazy otherwise!

Kristene said...

I am obsessed with brunch at Maialino, and your review definitely makes me want to try dinner! I love some good Mexican food (Toloache, Mercadito) for date nights :)

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Kristene: I didn't even look at the brunch menu-I was so focused on trying to acquire a dinner reservation! :-)

Mexican seems to be the real winner as far as date nights go!

Pink Lady said...

Maialino is on my short list but it's not the easiest place to get a reservation. Hopefully things quiet down a bit as local NYCers head out of the city on the weekend. One of my favorite restaurants is Park Avenue. A bit pricey but the food and service are fantastic! For Mexican, Suenos. Looking forward to your next date night review.

Melissa said...

2 great restaurants that I love are Alta (tapas) and Peasant (Italian). I don't get out as much as I'd like with a 4 year old at home but a good deal of my disposable income used to rest with NYC restaurants!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Pink Lady: Thanks!

Melissa: I have been to Peasant-I think they were having an off night because in my 10 years of living in NYC it was the first time I ever sent a dish back. Everyone I know loves it so I was very disappointed. But I loved the space-its very romantic.

melissa said...

I've been wanting to try, glad to know it's worth the hype! I hear the brunch is great!

Sam @ Mom at the Barre said...

Melissa: I was looking at the brunch menu today and it is amazing! Scrambled eggs with pecorino and pepper. Olive oil muffins. I have to go back for brunch!

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