Eat Your Veggies

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
February 17, 2010

Puntarelle at MaialinoCynthia Sin-Yi Cheng

Gramercy Park Hotel
2 Lexington Ave
(21st & 22nd Sts)
New York, NY 10010

On a recent visit to Maialino, I was looking for a salad when I noticed that the antipasti selection included the unusual chicory-family leaf called puntarelle ($15). I was hesitant to order it since puntarelle can be rather bitter (and besides Chinese bitter melon, bitter foods are not something I appreciate). After a short discussion with assistant General Manager Sam Lipp, who really vouched for the briefly-in-season green, I decided to order it. There is something to be said for taking a chance and challenging one’s preconceived notions.

First of all, I don’t remember this green being so gorgeous. I couldn’t stop staring at their seductive, wild curls (it’s in the way that they slice it). The bitterness also ended up being mild and tempered by a light touch of simple anchovy dressing. Finally, the amazing crunchy texture and clean taste had me hooked. I was back a week later to make sure I didn’t miss the seasonal window on this green flown in from Roma. Just as happy the second time!

Wine pairing: I tried a couple of light whites, but ended up really liking the 07 Friulian Sauvignon Blanc from Canus ($13 by glass; $21 by quartino). Herbaceous and firm, it had the right weight to balance the anchovy dressing. For an indulgence (and you know my feelings on that), you’ll find the 98 Billecart-Salmon blanc de blancs by the glass for $38.

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