I am trying to get out and try some new places and Maialina kept popping up in my social media. It’s a new place that is in the historic Fountain Square building and it’s Italian. I keep hoping for a great Italian place, so I was excited to try it. I didn’t realize till we were there that it was owned by the same family that owns Ambrosia, which lessened my excitement a bit (just never had an amazing meal there), but I wanted to keep an open mind.
We started with the tomato and basil bruschetta ($10), the parmesan garlic toast ($4) and the small Italian chop salad ($7). Ok, I have to say this course was pretty underwhelming. The best thing was the garlic toast and it was very good. Bread was crunchy and it had a nice amount of cheese on top that didn’t make it gooey, but just added to the flavor. The bruschetta had a lot of problems. The biggest one was lack of taste. I liked the small dices of tomato, but it needed acid so much. According to our waiter, I think it was meant to have some balsamic on it, but I tasted nothing. And for me a good piece of bruschetta is toasted crunchy so that it doesn’t get soggy under the toppings. This was very lightly toasted if it was even toasted at all. I ended up using some of the dressing from the salad and putting the tomatoes on the parmesan toast. Then I got a decent flavor bite. But the most important change I would recommend is adding acid to those tomatoes. Please.
I was a bit puzzled by the chopped salad. When I read chop, I think little chopped up pieces that are all approximately the same size. The menu listed romaine, pepperoncini, salame, provolone, mushrooms, green olives, red onions and croutons. This was certainly not chopped very much. There was a lot of lettuce and large slices of red onion and some olives, maybe 2-3 tiny pieces each of cheese and salame, a lot of croutons, and one large pepperoncini on top. Oh, and no dressing. At all. It was supposed to have red wine vinaigrette, which I eventually asked for and got. And I was surprised at how lacking in flavor it was as well. It was not emulsified at all and the main taste was of oil. So in my mind this salad was a no-go. A chop salad should be chopped and tossed with the dressing. End of story.
Moving on to the main courses, we quickly learned none of the pastas are made in house, which was disappointing. Hubby ordered the cacio e pepe pasta ($12), my son the gnocchi Bolognese ($18), and I got the truffle mushroom flatbread ($10). Luckily things improved on his course. The best course was the simplicity of the cacio e pepe, which was spaghetti with cheese and pepper. This is a simple dish when done well is really tasty. This was good—the cheese in the right amount both parmesan and percorino. The pepper was strange though—it was just some ground pepper on top (like the kind that comes from a pepper shaker—really fine). A little bit of fresh cracked pepper would have really added to the flavor (and was what was listed on the menu). The Bolognese was decent as well, but a weird choice to put on gnocchi because little pillow shapes of gnocchi don’t really hold on to the sauce that was made with ground meats. The flavor was good but you kind of had to eat them separately—the gnocchi and then a spoonful of the meat sauce. I would recommend a different shape of pasta for this dish. The flatbread was decent as well—I didn’t get a lot of truffle flavor, but I liked the little bit of rosemary. It was maybe a little boring, but nothing wrong with it. I definitely preferred the cacio and pepe. That’s what I would get on a return visit. Which is probably somewhat unlikely.
I will say, this is a pretty new place, so they are probably still finding their groove, but nothing really jumped out to me and the first half of the meal was pretty disappointing. They do have a nice Italian wine selection though. And our waiter was very nice and service was pretty good overall, even though they were very busy (people in Indy do love a new place). If you have been, please give me your thoughts.
1103 Prospect Street