Maialino Review: Happy hour at Maialino

Maialino Review: Happy hour at Maialino

The 2011 NBA Draft just concluded. The odds of predicting which player will become a future Hall of Famer is very low. You have a better chance to guess at who can maybe become an All-Star, although not much better odds. Just guessing who could become a rotational player is difficult. But the odds of picking a guy who won’t pan out? Really really good. Ordering from a restaurant feels like that sometimes. There are words that will trigger interest in your brain. Maybe it’s ‘braised’ or ‘crispy’. Perhaps it’s words of ingredients like ‘pork belly’ or ‘sea urchin’. I fall prey to this all the time. While concentrating on the key words, I lose sight of the description. Maybe it it’s actually a toast with a slice or pork belly, instead of a pork belly dish. Moving past the fact that I can’t read a menu, the original issue persists – how does on find the winner? In the NBA you try to predict who can mature his game and who loves the game the most. Does that idea work when ordering? If a kitchen loves producing one dish over another, would that dish taste better? Who knows. Predicting the unknown is really hard. In the NBA the way around drafting poorly is to use advanced statistics and stockpile draft picks. The best way around this dish selection conundrum is to order more dishes. That’s not always an option. When it’s a small-bites menu for Happy Hour, then it’s time to play.

Maialino has a new Happy Hour menu. They feature $5 beers and a $5 mixed drink. Yesterday the mixed drink was called Roman Shandy. Five bucks is a good price for mixed drink, however I’m learning that $5 mixed drinks for Happy Hour means there’s lots of ice. Before half of the drink was consumed, the flavor almost dissipated. I did like it though, especially for the price. Perhaps beer next time, although much of the fat that my body stores in case of a planet-wide catastrophe is due to beer consumption. Can’t blame a fatty for a desire to try the cocktail when it’s cheap. Cheap is a choice, and that choice has consequences! This pick ended up with a rotational player on the bench. Maybe the second guy off the bench kinda thing.

The $2 pizza square yesterday featured green tomatoes. Unintentionally included was the flavor of carbon. Sometimes you eat fish and you can taste the ocean. Sometimes you have toast and you can taste the oven. The idea of the pizza was good, and a good crunchy bite is always appreciated. If only the top of the pizza could pack more of an influence than the bottom. The toppings change according to what the kitchen wants to make on any particular day. Try your luck. This was a bit of a bust when you consider a food menu items draft. It’s no Kwame Brown, but it’s at least a Yi Jianlian.

All is not lost however, the rest of the Happy Hour draft was a success. It’s OK if you’re number 1 pick was not the best as long as your 2nd round picks all pan out. Let’s start with the Deviled Egg. One hardly expects crunch with a deviled egg, yet there it was to my delight. Crunchy bread crumbs on a creamy egg… mmm.. genius. It’s $2 and a very happy bite. Steph loved this also, and probably wish we didn’t have to share. $2 for half of a egg might be steep, but you pay for quality sometimes. I wasn’t expecting much and was glad for the result. In a draft, this is like picking up Taj Gibson late in the first round.

The meat balls are $2 a piece. The meat changes regularly as well. It was rabbit when Serious Eats visited. Yesterday they had beef. This thing passed the look, smell, and taste test. To elongate my enjoyment of the golfball sized goodness, I cut it in half. Both bites had me wanting more. This was the celebrated draft pick that panned out. It’s the Derrick Rose of meatballs.

Other items on the menu surpassed the magical $2 threshold. We couldn’t pass up the crispy pork terrine though. For $7 this might seem to break the bank but you’d thank yourself after consuming such a tasty nugget. In a way this was kind of like a pork nugget, shaped like a tiny log, breaded, and then deep fried. It’s like a thick meat fry. If McDonald’s sold these as ‘fries’, they would still be know as the king of fast food fries. Four meat sticks comes out to less than $2 per meat stick. As in most places, when you order in bulk, the per item cost goes down. I’d venture to say that instead of 4 meat balls, you might even be better off ordering just one crispy pork terrine. This is the thing in the draft that breaks all the rules and really doesn’t belong in a draft. It’s the overseas free agent that came over because it’s so dazzling. This is the Arvydas Sabonis of the food item draft.

So while it’s difficult to pick a winner, sometimes you luck into a good thing. And since predicting the unknown is hard as hell, it’s always in your best interest to spread out your risk into multiple options. This way you can win overall even if some of your picks don’t pan out.

Maialino2 Lexington Avenue.New York, NY 10010212-777-2410

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