Maialino’s “Roman Ramen”

I’ll preface this little write-up by noting that I only came here to try this brilliantly conceived mash-up of Japanese and Italian – a fusion that was best made in Super Mario Bros. – only this time it was in the food world rather than the video game world. For a limited time Maialino was serving what they called Roman Ramen at the bar. I heard about it here. Now it’s gone! You’re all too late. I tried to warn you on FB.

Okay, so Maialino’s “Roman Ramen” uses farro noodles in a pork broth, with a thick slice of porchetta, black pepper oil, some shaved greens, and, of course, a soft-boiled egg to achieve the most perfect ramen fusion dish one could possibly imagine. Everything just fits well. The noodles reminded me a little bit of the rye style noodles from Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. They had a nice bite and texture to them. The pork maybe could have been braised better, as there was a slight bit of chew to it, but I didn’t mind so much because the flavor was really outstanding. It was distinctly Italian in flavor but Japanese in delivery. Another ingredient suggestion would be some kind of fungus. Like the Japanese, Italians are quite fond of mushrooms (remember – they are all over Super Mario Bros.): So perhaps some thin sliced raw baby bellas or julienne cut cooked portobellos would fit nicely in this bowl. At only $10 it’s a good deal too. The black pepper oil really sets this bowl apart from the others. I need to locate this stuff ASAP because I can no longer live without it.

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Year 2: pork was more thinly sliced, which I ended up liking even better, as it reminded me of prosciutto. Broth was a little more substantial and deep in flavor. Mo’ betta greens, like arugula and some herbs. Still no mushrooms, and this time was a little lighter on the pepper oil (I was a little bummed about that but it was still fucking great).

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I washed this bitch down with some Italian brew too – pretty good:

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As a side note, the regular menu for this place looked incredible. I’ll definitely be back.

On a second trip, my wife and I came for the lunch price fix menu. For $35 you get any app, any prime or second item for  your entree, and biscotti.

For the apps, we chose fried artichokes and the octopus with beans. Both were excellent. The artichokes were crispy and lemony, and the octopus was charred nicely. I’ve had softer octo before, but this was definitely still good.

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For the entrees, my wife went with the malfatti, which is a broad pasta noodle that was served in a lemony brown butter sauce with suckling pig. This was great. The pasta was perfectly cooked al dente and the pig was tender and flavorful.

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Of course I chose the roasted sirloin for my dish. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare, and it still had a great charred crust on the edges. It was served with onions and potatoes: classic.

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I also had to try the cavatelli with escarole and beans. Cavatelli is my favorite pasta, and escarole and beans is one of my favorite classical Italian peasant dishes. They did a great job here. It really reminded me of my mother’s cooking.

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I sopped a lot of the nice juices up with the delicious table breads:

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The only down side to the meal was the slowness in service. They were really busy, so it took very long to get each course. And they also nearly forgot to bring out the biscotti until I reminded them.

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I’m generally not a huge fan of biscotti, or really any Italian cookies for that matter, but the flat, soft gingerbread cookie underneath was really delicious.

Not a bad bill for all we were able to try:

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And in a really nice ambiance at that. I love the restaurant. It feels rustic yet elegant all at the same time.

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UPDATE 6/5/17

THE BURGER IS BACK! Maialino is once again serving up their special burger, available at the bar from 12-2pm, and then from 10:30pm to close. It’s a delicious patty topped with gorgonzola and crispy pancetta, sitting on a rosemary brioche bun with lettuce and onion. Absurdly good.

MAIALINO
Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10010

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