The many “inos” of New York, a visit to Maialino (New York Stories II)

Above: I loved the fried artichokes at Danny Meyer’s Maialino.

It’s amazing to think that restaurant maven Jason Denton opened his Italian sandwich shop ‘Ino back in 1998 — the same year that Batali-Bastianich launched Babbo. Strolling around the West Village last week, I spotted two new (at least to me) “inos”: Gottino and Corsino.

It occurred to me that the Molto Mario paradigm is like al-Qaeda: it’s not just a working method or brand anymore; it’s a concept. And the rash of “inos” that have appeared across the City in the last fourteen years are akin to the self-appointed “cells” of the Jihad (perhaps modeled more after Lupa and Otto than his earlier successes).

I’m embarrassed to say that I still hadn’t been to Maialino (which opened in 2010), Danny Meyer’s Rome-inspired “ino”. And when Alice and I arrived there at 8 p.m. on Friday, the place was slamming packed.

I was geeked to reconnect with my good friend Nicolas, who works there. And we ended up having a nosh at the bar (including the awesome fried artichokes, above).

Nicolas treated us to a delicious bottle of Perella, one of Bruno De Conciliis’s expressions of Fiano. And I was psyched to see 2006 Produttori di Carema by the glass (!) and a truly courageous selection for the Pinot Grigio by the glass: Vie di Romans Pinot Grigio Dessimis — a vineyard designated, skin-contact, tannic expression of lees-aged Pinot Grigio. That’s a pretty gutsy choice for someone expecting Santa Margherita…

I tasted a 1997 Dessimis a few years ago in Friuli and was blown away by the elegance and power of the wine. And although I thought the 2009 offered at Maialino isn’t fully developed (the wood still resided atop the wine), I loved the fact that the wine director Liz Nicholson (whom I haven’t met) is prompting her guests to question the Pinot Grigio status quo in our nation.

OBut no matter how hard courageous and well informed wine directors like Liz try, you still can’t take the “ino” out of Pinot Grigio…

Up next: New York Stories III, Alice and I pay a visit to the “Wine Seer” uptown and “everything is beautiful at the ballet”…

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