Posts tagged ‘New York’
If you’ve never been to one of Il Mulino‘s many locations, I have two words for you, “pace yourself”. I recently went to the one in Aspen–the original is in New York, though there are locations across the country and in Tokyo. From the very moment you sit down you will be inundated with food. In quick succession a waiter comes by with a chunk of cheese from a massive wheel of Parmesan, bruschetta with tomatoes and basil, lightly fried and thinly sliced zucchini, salami and a variety of breads. Who needs dinner?
After inhaling all the food set before us, we turned our attention to the menu, a feast in its own right. There’s a mouth-watering list of pastas, along with risotto, fish, veal, beef and lamb. Since there were eight of us, we thought it would be fun to sample several of the pastas, passing them around the table family style. Each of us ordered an entrée as well.
The waiter brought each of us our own plate of four pastas, which taken as a whole was enough for an entire meal. Whether the waiter misunderstood our wishes and thought we wanted enough for eight, or decided to take advantage of us by giving us double what we ordered, it’s hard to know. But the upshot was that we felt compelled to eat the pastas because they were so outstanding, leaving little room for our entree when it arrived.
The pastas included a very light gnocchi with pesto, pappardelle with sausage, a house capellini, and mushroom ravioli. All were excellent but I thought the pasta with sausage led the parade.
Thinking we were only going to have a bite of each of the appetizer pastas, my husband and I ordered pasta for our main dish. Living in Kansas City, we don’t have the luxury of eating pasta of this quality very often, so it seemed like a good bet. With more room in my stomach, it definitely would have been. I ordered a squid ink linguine with seafood in an arrabbiata sauce, which is one of my favorites, and this was as good as it gets. My husband ordered angel hair with the same spicy tomato sauce, and he was equally enthralled. Especially since there were plenty of leftovers for the next day.
Others in our group ordered veal Parmagiana. I have NEVER seen anything as huge. It looked exactly like a 12 inch pizza, only instead of crust on the bottom there was a piece of veal with the bone still attached.
We were all ready to roll out of the gorgeous restaurant when the waiter came by with a bucket holding cold grappa for all of us. He scooped up a glass for each of us with our bill. Nice touch.
Il Mulino’s sleek ambiance and smooth service would make this a restaurant to remember even if the food had been less than stellar. Was there too much to eat? Definitely, but that was partly our fault for the way we ordered, and of course, for the way we attacked the food. Would I go back? In a heartbeat.
One of them was Maialino, recently named best new restaurant by Zagat, and restaurateur Danny Meyer’s latest addition to his ever-expanding empire. And, because pasta is my husband’s favorite food group, it seemed a good bet to satisfy that craving. However, I was not able to get a reservation for the night/time we requested, despite having called 28 days in advance as suggested. (This is standard for a Danny Meyer restaurant, both in terms of protocol and difficulty in scoring a reservation.) Rather than move around other reservations, we went for Sunday brunch instead.
A blessing in disguise, perhaps? While reviews of dinner service have been mixed, everything I had read about brunch indicated this was the time to go. Located on the first floor of the Gramercy Park Hotel, light streams in from the expansive windows, smells of rich coffee waff through the air, pastries and breads are piled high on cake plates and many menu items are usually only found in Rome (where Meyer did extensive research before opening Maialino.)
Baked eggs in spicy tomato sauce are the perfect vehicle for the awesome bread that is brought to the table, scrambled eggs with pecorino and black pepper are light and fluffy, and the poached eggs with turnips and greens form a delightful combination.
To my husband’s delight, pasta plays a major role at brunch, not just in the afternoon or evening hours. He chose a Roman specialty, Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, a simple pasta with Pecorino cheese and a healthy dose of black pepper. The other selections include some form of pork, either guanciale or suckling pig ragu (except the ravioli which, like the cacio e pepe, is also heavy on the butter).
Panini, including one on chewy ciabatta with porchetta, arugula and fried eggs, round out the selections. It was substantial to say the least, but the quality of the bread (the likes of which cannot be found in Kansas City), kept me from leaving more than a few crumbs on the plate.
Maialino means “baby pig” in Italian, so pork is king here. The thick pepper bacon is more like chewy pork than what one thinks of as crisp bacon, but it works. Salty, fatty and rich, this side dish should be shared to keep the arteries from instantly clogging.
The overall effect of the dining room is mesmerizing. The layout is ingenious, with nooks and counters interspersed with communal tables, tables for two and round tables for large groups. Wine bottles are displayed at one end, wood beams and tile floors complete the look.
For a change of pace from the typical waffle and pancake brunch, you’ll do no better than Maialino, but make a reservation!
Wow. I knew it would be worth seeing, but before my visit to Eataly, I could never have imagined such a concept. Billed as an Italian food hall, this endeavor was developed by Mario Batali, Lidia and Joseph Bastianich. It’s a food lover’s dream.Beautiful, beautiful food is everywhere the eye can see–much like Disneyland is for kids, this was for me.
A fishmonger displays the freshest of fish, next to the pasta maker who has just completed rolling sheets of pasta. Next to the gelato counter is a patisserie and coffee stand, and beyond that is a man making fresh mozzarella to put in the cheese case. Hungry for a bite of salami to go with some strong Italian cheese? Pick from an astonishing array of both, and it will be beautifully displayed on a wood tray for you to take to a marble table for a leisurely bite or a quick inhale.
Food stalls and retail sections are intermingled with restaurants and there is seating throughout for both. Pizza is blistered in an imported pizza oven, pastas are whipped up Batali-style, and even vegetables are roasted for light eating. While not an easy place to navigate, especially as the 50,000 square foot space fills up in the afternoon, it’s well worth the hassle to not only see the whole setup, but to buy a little, eat a little and simply marvel at the extravaganza that these very smart operators have created.