INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Last summer, step-siblings Lawrence Green and Francesca Pizzi joined forces to open Fountain Square’s new go-to Italian restaurant.
Maialina is in the Fountain Square Theatre building at the neighborhood’s most recognizable intersection—near the corner of Prospect and Shelby Streets.
Maialina is an Italian word for “Little Pig.” So it’s only fitting to see references to the animal from the moment you walk through the door.
Inside, the space is classic yet contemporary while still preserving some history of the building, which was built in 1928.
“If you look at the floors, these are original floors from when it was a drugstore called Goldsmiths,” said owner Lawrence Green. “I actually recently talked to our landlord the other day, and he showed us a picture of it, and it’s one of our wine reps whose parents' family owned this back when it was first opened.”
The décor includes countless wine bottles perfectly arranged, and a wall full of family photos, featuring their parents, grandparents, and if you look close enough…
“There’s actually one of Francesca and I as very young kids—and by young I mean 12 or something,” Green explained. “There’s also a couple of my mom and Gino and his parents, who were kind of the beginning of his love for food and probably helped him begin his first restaurant… kind of like where our parents have helped us begin this venture with Francesca and I.”
Nearby, an Instagram-worthy wall highlights the house drink of choice: the Aperol spritz.
“It’s one of the things we have that not many places have,” Green said.
But what’s a good drink without some delicious Italian food?
“My personal favorite is I like to get the gamberi, which is a spaghetti shrimp pasta with red sauce and I get it really, really spicy,” he said.
Other top-selling menu items include appetizers like the calamari and ricotta bruschetta, made with truffle whipped ricotta, fig jam and spicy honey.
There are also salads, flat-breads, a tasty chicken parmesan, meat entrees and pastas like gnocchi bolognese, lasagna – topped with both bechamel parmesan cream and a meat ragu and the simple-yet-classic cacio e pepe.
“It’s cheese, pasta and pepper. And it’s got a little kick to it,” Green said. “And you can always add some sausage if you want to, and I think that’s hearty meal if you’re every looking for one.”
Coming from a family that owned and operated Italian restaurants around the city—including Ambrosia—you might assume they would feel pressure to uphold the family name. But— for them— this is all about creating their own legacy.
“One of the things Francesca and I have kind of strive for is we want to be almost thought of as our own, not as attached to the name and not… ‘Oh you’ve got to live up these expectations,'” Green explained. “We want to make our own name and kind of move into that realm almost… But yes, to be fair, [our family] was there almost every step of the way helping us.”
So far, Green’s favorite part of owning Maialina has been the relationships formed, not only with their customers but also with their staff with whom they strive to create an “extended family” environment.
“We want to create a family atmosphere…We want this to be like the local place that you just walk down the street and sit down at the bar and have a drink and just talk to people you know and see how the day is going and they’ll see how your day is going,” Green said. “And you just enjoy your day because you know… ‘I went over to Maialina tonight.'”
Four Things You Need to Know About Maialina:
- Maialina is co-owned by step-siblings Lawrence Green and Francesca Pizzi. They opened the restaurant in the summer of 2019 inside the Fountain Square Theatre building (at 1103 Prospect Street). Inside you’ll notice original flooring and contemporary yet inviting décor that includes family pictures.
- You can enjoy some locally sourced items at Maialina, including pepperoni from Turchetti’s—which is located right across the street— and beer on tap from local breweries.
- When it comes to dessert, Green suggests saving room for their highly popular tiramisu. “[Chef] Byron makes that pretty much on a daily basis.. [we] keep it fresh, keep it good and that’s the one my employees are always suggesting to everyone.”
- Maialina is open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-9PM, Friday-Saturday from 5-10PM, Sundays from 5-9PM and closed on Mondays. Green says you can typically walk in on a weekday and get a seat without too much of a wait, but he suggests making reservations on Friday nights and weekends.
For more information about Maialina, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them via Facebook and Instagram.
While in Fountain Square, check out these other local hot spots located a short walk from Maialina: