Day 1, Tuesday, January 19th:
My quest to get in begins with relative innocence; I play the role of a regular gal, cluelessly calling at the start of service to request the hottest item on the Maialino menu: a reservation for two at 7pm that night. I dial in at 5:15 and make my request with complete naivety. Here’s how it goes down:
The receptionist is quite polite, but it’s clear that the attempt is hopeless from the start. She suggests making reservations 28 days in advance, dialing in at 9:30am as soon as the phone lines open or using opentable.com to reserve online. She also recommends swinging by and sitting at the 9-seat bar. When asked what one could possibly do to get in, she repeats the month in advance standard. Turns out, The New York Times is reviewing the spot tomorrow. The space is intimate and calling two hours before service doesn’t cut it.
What surprises me most is the total lack of ridicule with which she delivers the news. She explains with utter sweetness that the restaurant is very new and very popular and goes on to talk about the buzz surrounding its recent opening and Times review. The call lasts a couple minutes, and I get put on hold once, only to be reconnected seconds later.
Day 2, Wednesday, January 20th:
I call in at 9:30 am with a new approach: I’m still an anonymous gal, but this time I’m desperate. The line is busy at both 9:30 and 9:35. Finally, I reach the receptionist on the third attempt at 9:40. “I need to get in at 7 p.m. Is there anything I can do?” The woman listens to me whine patiently for a couple minutes, and sugarcoats the expected answer: no. She suggests the wait list. It has 16 parties on it. Apparently, desperation doesn’t cut it.
Day 3, Thursday, January 21st:
The quest continues at 10:30 the following morning. I dial in and this time, my job is on the line. I’m getting a reservation for my boss. It’s an emergency and a walk-in is not an option. Given the circumstances, the receptionist is a bit more upfront: “If you definitely had to make plans within the next few hours, I would suggest else other places.” I.e. don’t even bother tonight. The trattoria is “fairly full” all night. The wait list is overflowing.
Day 4, Monday, January 25th:
I dial in at 5:30. The line’s busy.
I try again at 5:32 pm. I reach the hostess and repeat the usual request with a slight tweak: I’m flexible. I’d be happy to get in anytime that night. Plus, I’m a Maialino regular and I live around the corner. I always sit in the trattoria! She puts me on hold, gets the maitre-di on the phone, and a space is offered if I can be there in 15 minutes. Success!
Dav 5, Tuesday, January 26th:
On the fifth day, I call at 9:30, hoping to get one step closer to my goal thanks to the lessons from yesterday’s minor triumph. The line is busy, so I try again two minutes later. Still busy. At 9:35, I break through and reach Maialino’s ever-courteous receptionist. Per usual, the spot is booked. The woman on the phone does offer a bit of advise, however: She graciously tells me to me to try again at 5:30 or 6. There’s a chance they may be able to squeeze me in. Dining at 7 or 8? Impossible. Day 6, Wednesday January 27:
I reach the hostess at 5:30 and request a table for two at 7 or 8 pm. She couldn’t get me off the phone quickly enough. I’m starting to wonder if she recognizes my voice.