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”…

New York stories

N.B. this post will be thoroughly more enjoyable, if you click the YouTube below for the post’s soundtrack.

Next week, I’ll post on the Apulian tasting that Charles Scicolone and I presented at the New York Wine Media Guild luncheon on Wednesday. In the meantime, here are some images from my quick trip to the Big Apple (well worth it if only to party in Harlem the night of the election!).

Bar Milano is my new favorite NYC hang. My buddy and colleague Jim Hutchinson and I hit it up Wednesday night. We had the 2006 Nosiola by Cesconi, which showed well and was reasonably priced, and the sardine in saor (sardines in a sweet and sour sauce), a classic Venetian dish, were the best I’ve had outside the Veneto. Owners Jason and Joe Denton just know how to do it right and they have got to be the coolest dudes — in every sense — on the NYC restaurant scene.

On Tuesday, Greg Wawro and I celebrated his milestone birthday at our favorite steakhouse Keens, always a winner in my book. I treated Greg to the 1998 Corison (yes, a Californian wine!). Keens has a slightly picked-over vertical of Corison but there are still some good ones left. I’ve always found the wine judiciously made. The 10-year-old Cabernet paired beautifully with the porterhouse (which we ordered black and blue, of course).

Before dinner on Wednesday, I visited Alice and snapped this pic of what has got to be New York City’s most talked about toilet. Alice often writes about her toilet in her blog. (Click on the link and read her NY Times Modern Love piece. I was there the night of the 1977 Monsanto but I cannot reveal the name of her admirer.)

Forget NYC: Tracie B is coming to LJ tomorrow! What music will Benoit play at the JG? Stay tuned…