Maialino, you know Danny Meyer’s Italian restaurant in the Gramercy Park Hotel. The news may be that he’s destroying the American custom of tipping and including in the original prices, but the news I have to share is this place is still packed every night and you better try and make a reservation a few weeks in advance if you want prime time Friday night seating. It’s pretty impressive to hold this characteristic at a restaurant that isn’t brand new, but as we’ve come to see this hospitality entrepreneur from St. Louis has the game down. Everything you put in your mouth at Maialino tastes like gold if gold tasted like what it was actually worth. The bread basket which has it’s own visual station right at the edge of the dining room is silly good. Don’t fill up here though because the homemade pasta is the name of the game.

The way the menu is set up and the way the portions turn out order a plate of pasta for your entrée could look small, but if you aren’t trying to carbo load or dine out hard, then it’s just right. The Papardelle with Pork Ragu sings to the heart and the delicate ribbons of pasta are coated perfectly with just enough sauce and meat. The Caico e Pepe which I never order for myself because mentally it just doesn’t look like enough is just as amazing as it should be. I love Seafood Stew, so I couldn’t refrain from ordering it. The light tomato broth packs in a nice portion of white fish, clams, mussels, and homemade croutons.

Seafood Stew

The room at Maialino is what I’d like to coin right now as “sophisticated bumpin’.” The customers and the service are timeless in both their own ways, and you feel fancy and gorgeous without feeling pretentious and out of place. It’s an ideal spot for parents night out and an impressive evening for the young to dine out on their own. Out of towners and celebratory occasions all win here. In fact, I’m a huge fan of their brunch which is just as delicately delivered.

If you can’t get a dinner reservation, grab a glass of wine, a bowl of pasta, and enjoy that bar seat.