[Photo: Carey Jones]

Danny Meyer's new Maialino may be one of the most cheerful spots in New York, with the kind of ample light and park views that take the stress out of any weekend morning. Expensive for dinner but serious enough not to take its cheaper morning meal too lightly, it also has an inventive brunch menu that really caught my eye. Between the pastries, rustic egg dishes, and hearty sides, it seemed like a perfect way to officially kick off my weekend.

20100111maialinopastries.jpgAfter waiting a while for the table I'd reserved, I ordered a cappuccino and some pastries to start: Meyer is known for sourcing great coffee—he's got exclusive rights to San Francisco's Four Barrel Coffee here—and this is certainly no exception. The same can be said for the pasticcini: the Toffee Glazed Brioche ($5) was less crunchy than I had thought, but sticky, cinnamonny and sweet with the smooth crisp of lightly caramelized sugar. A Guanciale Pecorino Roll was a steal at just $1.50, and a tasty, savory one, too.

My Uova al Contadino ($13)—two poached eggs on a bed of brussels sprouts, which really are everywhere these days—came with surprises that I much appreciated, like teeny baby turnips that packed mild sweetness and chestnuts that reminded me of crunchy little croutons. Homemade focaccia, light and fluffy, was a perfect vehicle to sop up the extra yolk and veggie juice, but it was almost unnecessary.

Though we waited for what felt like an eternity in between each course, we stuck it out to try the Bomboloni con Crema ($5) for dessert. Yeasty and tasty, with a generous trove of cream filling, they're exactly what you'd expect—nothing more and nothing less—so whether that's worth a half hour (and a fiver) is a tough call to make. But it seems there are a few tough calls with Maialino's brunch. How willing you are to deal with an unapologetically short-staffed dining room is definitely one worth considering before booking your table.


2 Lexington Avenue, New York NY 10010 (map)


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