Maialino, Focaccia, Mitte
May 8, 2012 3 Comments
On the right side of the cavernous Bar Celona restaurant on Hannoversche str is the tiny focaccia deli run by a brother and sister team from Italy. Underneath a silhouette of a pig, ears askew, ‘maialino’ is scrawled in lowercase childlike handwriting. On either side of the entrance the walls have been painted black and (I only realize this later) the menu is listed. Through the window, a communal table painted in white and hanging above – the whimsical chandelier by Ingo Maurer, love letters discarded and ‘maialino’ business cards suspended in their place. Because the design is so friendly and informal, I expect to like it. Much like a first day of school when you scan the room and find someone you like the look of and think “Oh, I want to be friends with her.”I do like it. The menu is simplicity itself. It’s all about what you can get between two slices of fluffy focaccia. Lardo di Colonnata in the ‘toscana’. Mortadella and caciotta cheese in the ‘emiliana’. Don’t expect a sandwich bloated with filling, rather, thin slivers of your filling of choice set off the star of the show – the focaccia. Which they buy in from an Italian baker from Naples (but who bakes in Berlin). There is a tiny daily menu of soups – yesterday I tried the white asparagus. A large serving, somewhat on the thin side but at least without the dreaded greasy twang of a knorr stock cube . My friend had a Quiche, more like a pie. I do find the focaccia to be the best thing on the menu, especially when combined with some salad leaves, dressed with a salty balsamic dressing and wearing a beret of sliced tomatoes.In Italy, this fare is something I might expect to find being sold out of a window. It would be one of many indulgent stops including gelato and the stand up espresso on my way to dinner. In Berlin, where there are plenty of independent places to eat but very few that have whittled down their offering to a couple coherent choices, in a context that makes sense, it is always welcome.I lingered over my focaccia sandwich long after my friend had returned to work and flipped through a well-thumbed issue of Gambero Rosso magazine and thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon. While the sister part of the team bustled behind the counter, coaxing hisses and clicks from the espresso machine.