So the upcoming two weeks is restaurant week in New York City.  What that really means is a lot of 3-course lunches at fancy places for $24.07 and 4-course dinners at upscale establishments for $35.00 (not including tax and tip of course).  I intend to take advantage though of these two weeks.  This is my opportunity to visit all those places that have $$$ and $$$$ ratings on at a reasonable price.

My eating journey begins at a fine restaurant around the corner from my current office.  Located in the Gramercy Park Hotel is the delightful Italian restaurant, Maialino.  Restaurant week is a blessing, as I was able to enjoy a 3-course lunch that would’ve originally netted me over $30, not including the dessert it came with.

For an appetizer, I began with the Carciofini Fritti (Fried Artichokes & Anchovy Bread Sauce).  It was simply amazing; it reminded me why I loved artichokes, from the fried outer layers to the warm inside and it was scrumptious both with and without the anchovy dip.  I thought usage of the dip was much more dependent on your opinion of anchovies.  Fortunately for me, I like them, and it simply seemed to amplify the flavor since anchovies generally taste like a combination of light fishiness and salt flavor to me.

The main entree was a smaller portion of a dish that Maialino typically only serves for dinner, which was the Pollo alla Diavola (Peppered Chicken & Pickled Chili).  Definitely another win.  It was such a simple dish with just a small slab of chicken and an average sized portion of arugula.  But somehow, their combination of sauces and chili and flavor just combined so well in every possible way.  The chicken was flavorful, the skin was delicious, the meat was perfect moistness, and the sauce was a tad sweet with medium spice; it was just enough that you could taste all the flavors working together, and none overpowered the others.  The arugula was simply served on the same plate, and had no dressing except the same juice/sauce that enveloped the delicious chicken.  It was not oily or greasy feeling, but enough to give it a solid chicken “feel,” making even the simple serving arugula so enjoyable as well.  I finished every little piece of chicken I could get off the bone, and every little leaf of arugula that was presented on my plate.

The finale was a dessert that I have not seen on any of their normal menus, the Crostata di Mirtillo (Blueberry Tart & Fior di Latte Gelato).  A great way to end a thoroughly enjoyable meal.  I love blueberries, and I don’t know the specific ingredients for their tart, but it was a pleasure to know that it was not the typical canned blueberries that are dowsed in sugar and high fructose corn syrup (but they still might be canned blueberries, just higher quality ones).  But it was cripsy, and sweet, and delicious with the gelato that came on top.  A great finish to a great meal.

I really hope I can afford to return here in the future.  I truly believe my love would enjoy the chicken here, and I’m eager to sample the roasted pig that is so highly recommended.  Perhaps it will just have to wait, but hopefully not too long since I know the quality of a restaurant can vary greatly over short periods of time.  At least for today, I will tip my hat to Maialino and their 3-course restaurant week 2011 lunch; it so completely satisfied my need for something that was quality and delicious.


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