© kate krader
Chef Nick Anderer, right, gets ready to try some pasta at Maialino.Boy is it exciting to walk past the construction workers and into Maialino, Danny Meyer’s about-to-open Roman trattoria in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park Hotel. First you see the gorgeous burnt-yellow tiled floors (based on a design at the Pantheon). Then you see the long Bar Maialino (in the a.m., it’s for stand-up consumption of espressos and house-baked pastries; the rest of the day, it’s for small plates). Opposite is the marble salumi bar. In the Trattoria, a.k.a. the dining room, tables are topped with blue-and-white-checked cloths and walls are lined with reclaimed wood from the Pantheon (kidding—it's from barns in New Jersey). And let’s note that Rockwell Group reclaimed the wood and designed the place.
In the kitchen, chef Nick Anderer is testing the menu, including stracciatella alla romana (Italian egg drop soup), braised artichokes, divine house-cured salt cod fritters and cacio e pepe ("salt and pepper") made with hand-cut tonnarelli pasta. Me, I loved it. But Anderer and Union Square Cafe’s überchef Michael Romano—who was there in a chef's jacket—thought the pasta could be less chewy, the sauce creamier. So, will Anderer try to recreate the pasta setup at Babbo, where he used to work and where Bill Buford tagged him as "the pasta guy" in his book Heat? “Absolutely not. It’s amazing there, but no.”