Maialino, Nick Anderer's Roman-inspired restaurant at the Gramercy Park Hotel, became the second Danny Meyer restaurant to eliminate tipping today, bringing with it higher wages for staffers and (mostly) higher prices for diners. The change also lets the venue test out gratuity-free dining at a somewhat unexpected mealtime: breakfast.
In the wake of Meyer's announcement last year to end tips at all thirteen of his New York establishments, a slew of other restaurants have followed suit, from David Chang's Momofuku Nishi, to Gabe Stulman's Fedora, to Robert Bohr's Pasquale Jones. Gratuity-free dining rooms generally let restaurants better cope with the state's higher minimum wages. Such policies also help bridge the gap between front of the house staffers like waiters, who often earn more because they can collect gratuities, and back of the house staffers like cooks, who typically earn less, because they cannot.
What makes Maialino particularly intriguing is that it's a rare case of a restaurant eliminating tipping not just at lunch and dinner but in the morning hours as well, a competitive mealtime where guests are often more concerned about cost and nutrition than culinary distinctiveness. So with that in mind, Maialino's orange juice is now a buck more expensive at $6, as is cappuccino, at $5.50 — not out of line with other high profile venues. French press pots, in turn, are up $2 to $9, a 29 percent hike.
Maialino's signature breakfast sandwich — pork sausage on an English muffin with provolone and a fried egg — is now $18, a $3 increase. That's not too shabby considering that a similar creation with duck sausage will cost $19 before tip at The NoMad in Midtown. The breakfast sandwich at Sadelle's in SoHo is $17 before gratuities (or $20.40 after).
At dinner, Maialino's tasting menu is up $15 to $95, but since that hike is less than 20 percent, diners will actually end up spending less than what diners would've paid ($96) under the old tipping system. Let's call that one a DEAL.
"We want to make sure that it remains an everyday spot," Anderer tells Eater. "We want to be able to keep our regulars at the bar." Indeed, Maialino's spicy tripe with pecorino, which now costs $18, carries an effective discount since the price only went up by 13 percent; same goes for the chitarra with anchovy butter, which went up by 17 percent (The tripe and the anchovy pasta are this critic's go-to order.)
Pastas, previously $18-$25, are now $21-$29, while mains are $32-$39. The signature roast pork, previously $42, is now $58, a hefty 38 percent increase for a 16-ounce portion. The large sea-baked salt bass also gets the light discount treatment going up by just 19 percent to $88.
Here's a full look at Maialino's breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus.