Indianapolis is quickly becoming one of the hottest food cities in America. A destination for true foodies who are interested in everything from fine dining to food trucks. This column will put the spotlight on one of these local hot spots to help get the word out and share in the love of all things food.
Review by Dustin Heller (@eatindywatchindie on Instagram)
The lack of authentic Italian cuisine has been an issue in downtown Indy for quite some time now. Never fear, though, a brand new Italian kitchen and bar has just opened in the heart of Fountain Square which is sure to have the foodies celebrating.
Maialina (1103 Prospect Street) is located in the Fountain Square Theatre building in the space formerly occupied by Smokehouse on Shelby.
The owners of Maialina, Lawrence Green and Francesca Pizzi, are no strangers to the Indy food scene; their family also serves up some great Italian in the Broad Ripple area at local hot spot, Ambrosia. After much anticipation, Maialina is now open for business and ready to serve.
The restaurant has a very modern and casual feel, from the trendy black and white tile flooring to the family pictures hanging on the walls. An abundance of natural light pours in through the oversized windows, which is perfect for checking out the happenings on the bustling sidewalks of Fountain Square. The centerpiece for the dining area is an understated bar where their house-specialty Aperol Spritz cocktails take center stage.
When it comes to the food, Francesca is the one calling the shots in the kitchen. The menu has a nice combination of modern, forward-thinking dishes to go along with some classic Italian favorites. From exciting appetizers and flatbreads to mouth-watering pasta and meat dishes, there is something for everyone on the Maialina menu. In order to make your first visit go a little more smoothly, here are four items from the menu that you “can’t miss”:
Ricotta Bruschette: Bruschetta is a popular Italian antipasto that is simply grilled bread rubbed with a garlic clove and brushed with olive oil. The most common variation is the bruschetta pomodoro which adds fresh tomato and basil atop the delicious bread. That said, one thing the foodie spotlight is not -- is common. The ricotta bruschetta at Maialina is not only crazy delicious, but very creative and imaginative. They take that same grilled bread and load it with spicy honey, fig jam, truffle whipped ricotta, and finish with fresh thyme. The creaminess of the ricotta pairs perfectly with the sweet and heat of the honey and fig jam. This is a true foodie’s bruschetta!
Fig & Sausage Flatbread: Are you starting to sense a theme here? The fig jam at Maialina is the bomb! The thing about fig jam is that it’s unique flavor really goes well with cheese. So much so, that combination occupies the top two spots on this list. Make no mistake, there is more to this pizza than the jam. The thin and crispy flatbread is also covered with crumbled sausage, caramelized onions, cracked black pepper and robust gorgonzola cheese. This flatbread is “jam” packed with flavor (pun intended)!
Bolognese: Now we’re getting into the pasta portion of the menu and we’ll kick things off with a traditional meat sauce. The Bolognese at Maialina is a classic three meat ragu that is flavored with onions and tomato paste. There is no shortage of meat in this sauce! The pasta pairing for the Bolognese are soft and delicate gnocchi dumplings. This might sound strange, but I’ve always found gnocchi to be fun to eat. That probably explains a lot about me, but I really do enjoy their texture. Add some fresh parmigiano reggiano and you’re all set.
Sausage: Let’s set up shop in the pasta section of the menu to round out the “can’t miss” list. This time, we’re taking on a delightful casarecce pasta that would make any warm-blooded Sicilian proud. The word casarecce comes from the word casereccio which literally means “homemade”. The casarecce is prepared al dente and then married up with house sausage and broccoli rabe. It is tossed in a light olive oil and finished with crushed red pepper and pecorino. Bon appétit!