Restaurant: Maialino Mare

This is a first for WW, reviewing a restaurant that Debbie and I visited the night before it opened.

We were invited to a reception on January 7th the night before the restaurant opened in its new home at the Navy Yard. The restaurant is located in the new Thompson Hotel which also opened the next day.

This is the first full-service D.C. restaurant opened by Danny Meyer and also the first full-service restaurant he has opened outside of New York as part of his Union Square Hospitality Group. If you want to get the full “flavor” of Meyer’s food empire, google the group.

I first met Meyer several years ago while enjoying several meals at his first New York restaurant, the Union Square Café. I was introduced to the restaurant by his uncle, my old friend, Bill Harris. (For whatever reason I did not write about the restaurant then.)

Meyer’s previous foray into D.C. is Shake Shack. I have enjoyed many a hamburger, hot dog and shake at a number of locations, my favorite being near Dupont Circle. Shake Shack is one of the few restaurants that publishes online all of the nutritional elements of food on its menu.

While at Maialino Mare, we asked if we could see the rest of the hotel eating areas and one of Meyer’s folks in from New York offered us a tour. There are a number of private rooms that can comfortably seat 12-24 people and a roof top operation which includes an outdoor area. Opening soon will be an area called Anchovy Social – a year-round 8000 square foot rooftop bar with waterfront views and shareable seafood.

The key staff members of Maialino Mare have moved to Washington from other Meyer restaurants in New York. For example, the Executive Chef is Rose Noel who started out as a pasta maker in one of Meyers New York restaurants and has worked her way up.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres were served at the reception, including mini hamburgers, a type of hotdog and a variety of other tasty treats; as well what seemed to be an unlimited supply of various beverages.

Debbie and I were among a small group of older folks.

During a short program, Meyer announced that, like all of his restaurants, there is a “no tipping” policy and for each person who eats at the restaurant, the restaurant will contribute $1 to the charity “No Kid Hungry.”

The main dining room on the main floor of the restaurant seats 120 people.

It is designed to be a Roman style trattoria. We asked for and received a draft of the menu which was not used the night of the reception but was a draft of what would be offered at the opening.

The menu is seafood centric with a couple of exceptions. One is a Peppered Half Chicken. The other is a dish that I doubt is available at any other D.C. restaurant – Braised or Slow Roasted Suckling Pig.

For those familiar with Italian, you may know that “maialino” means suckling pig. When Meyer was living in Rome, he so loved the taste of a good suckling pig that his friends called him that as a nickname.

I also noticed a couple of my personal favorites on the menu including Octopus, Skate Wing, Baked Sea Bass, roasted Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Squash.

Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post is one of my favorite restaurant critics and he does write about the food. He reviewed the restaurant positively on January 22nd.

Now, for the men’s restroom. Of course, it was fresh as it has basically not been used prior to that evening. There is a great deal of wood on the floor and ceiling, and plain tan wallpaper.

There are two wall hanging urinals in a section closed in by partial walls made of wood and open to the back. The urinals hang on a white marble odd-shaped slab which is attached to the wall.

It has two commode rooms including one that is handicapped accessible. There is a white marble counter fronted by tall mirrors. It has several square washbasins with appropriate faucets, paper towels, etc. between the basins. The floor is covered in tiny grayish squares.

The Thompson hotel chain has been acquired by Hyatt but will continue to operate under its own name as a small hotel. The hotel has 255 rooms and the food and beverage service for the entire hotel is provided by Maialino Mare.

Footnote – It struck me that it might be fun to hire one of those small black buses, loud it up with friends and drive to the restaurant having reserved one of the smaller rooms.

Maialino Mare
Navy Yard
221 Tingey Street SE
Washington, DC 20003