Please bear with me on this one. Because as one of the bazillion food lovers, and one of the katrillion food bloggers, speaking in superlatives is as common as that god damn Jay Z song playing during a New York sporting event. So when can we say that the best is truly the best? When does an exclamation of excellence warrant the full attention bestowed on the honoree? And when does a meal transcend the words we use to describe it?
Simply put, it’s about passion. I know, it seems dramatic. After all, I’m talking about food. But no matter what the source is, we never forget the moments when “chills” sweep over us. Maybe you’re falling in love, maybe you’ve made an artistic breakthrough, or maybe you’ve found your calling. Or maybe you’re eating at Maialino.
I have written about my previous dining experiences at Danny Meyer’s recently opened Roman Trattoria but it was this past experience that I can not get out of my every thought. In fact it has taken me an additional day to digest the experience in order to attempt this description. My love for this restaurant has not changed. The design, ambiance, and service are exceptional; right in my wheelhouse. But the food is where the passion really lies.
I could easily write on and on about the crispy and comforting fried artichokes or the bold yet delicate tripe with fresh mint and tomatoes or the perfectly pan seared sea bass served over a bed of pancetta and asparagus. All three dishes were delicious. But when I took my first bite of the Pollo all Diavola, a half chicken roasted with black pepper and pickled chili, everything I had thought I knew about food was frozen in time, replaced by one thing: chills.
At this point you may think I’m nuts. After all, I am talking about roasted chicken. An overplayed, often boring rendition of a meal we’ve been eating forever. Well, I urge you to try Maialino’s. The chicken is expertly cooked providing a crispy exterior wrapping a melt in your mouth breast and thigh. But the sauce, a delicate broth of pickled chili is where the dish really shines. I have followed the rule, in my own cooking along with my own eating, that acidity pairs with richness like no other combination of flavors; the proof, none better than this chicken.
I know this is a meal that will forever change my outlook on food and the emotion it can evoke. I still find myself salivating in attempts to re-taste this chicken; to find those chills. And yes, I plan on heading back to Maialino for another meal, but not quite yet. Because the best moments in your life are meant to be cherished, not replayed into submission…
“…Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…”