When the Gramercy Park hotel shuttered temporarily during the pandemic and then for good, the fate of Danny Meyer’s Roman-influenced Maialino in the lobby was uncertain. Yet the dismantling of the hotel wasn’t enough to keep Maialino down. After two-plus years of closure, the restaurant is indeed returning, now in a new location and slightly different format in the Redbury Hotel (30 E. 30th Street, between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South). With a name update, Maialino (vicino) is open today, Tuesday, October 18 — with a companion wine bar that’s walk-in only.
Maialino (vicino) — essentially, “nearby” the original — is a more intimate restaurant run by executive chef Joe Downey-Zayas, who has been with Union Square Hospitality since 2010. “We’ve been waiting two and a half years to bring it back,” says Downey-Zayas. “It’s really fun to be cooking Roman food again.” As far as whether this is the new Maialino or a sibling, it depends on the fate of the original location.
With 42 seats and an additional 18 at the bar, the new spot, “feels a little more Roman,” he says of a space that’s tighter than the original with “a more kinetic atmosphere.”
Downey-Zayas is resurrecting some of Maialino’s signature dishes, including tonnarelli cacio e pepe ($22), spaghettini vongole ($25), pollo alla diavola ($32) with pickled chile, and Maialino al forno ($43) — suckling pig with rosemary potatoes. One of his favorite items on the menu is the abbacchio, slow-roasted lamb with fennel and rosemary ($38). The drinks list includes a handful of cocktails, with martinis dominating the selection; a smattering of vermouth, and wines, particularly from the Piedmont region.
While staff has been referring to the dining room as “the trattoria,” there’s also the wine bar that’s new to this location — while it feels like a separate place and has a distinct menu, it’s essentially two spaces for the same restaurant. Here, the space seats 30, with a menu of apertivi and digestivi along with small plates like salumi and various vegetables sott’olio, preserved in olive oil.
Downey-Zayas isn’t the only one who’s been waiting for the rebirth of Maialino. Danny Meyer himself has been hands-on with the opening. “The traditional Roman trattoria was at the heart of why I opened Maialino in 2009,” he says via email. “As the best Roman trattoria and family-run restaurants always have, we’ve tried to distinguish Maialino’s food by its simplicity, consistency, and straightforward flavors; its hospitality through warmth and generosity; and its atmosphere by a convivial, full house of animated guests with robust appetites.” Meyer stepped down as CEO of Union Square Hospitality in August; a spokesperson says he remains “incredibly involved” as chairperson, a position that allows him “more time to spend with restaurants.”
What about the future of the original spot? “It remains our hope and intention to return to our Gramercy Park home,” a spokesperson says. There’s a world in which both versions of Maialino would coexist.