Sunday, October 27, 2013

Restaurant Review: Maggiano's

Maggiano's - dinner on October 10, 2013
I met my friend Jeannie for dinner one night and we chose to go to Maggiano's.  Jeannie and I usually meet at either Maggiano's or Cheesecake Factory, both of us primarily driven by the dessert menus.  There are worse criteria to use when picking a restaurant.
Inside Maggiano's
It also helps that our local Maggiano's is in a mall so there's always shopping that can be done before or after dinner.  Actually, before dinner is probably a better idea before we do all that carbo loading at dinner.
Warm bread with oil & vinegar
If you've ever eaten at Maggiano's, you know it's wise to order a half portion instead of a full portion.  The full portion of most of their pasta dishes doesn't cost much more but it'll probably feed you for a good week or more after.  Even a half order feeds me for at least 3 more meals after the initial one.  I remember the first time I had gone to Maggiano's and, not realizing how big their portions were, I ordered a full order, thinking it was no big deal since I would eat the leftovers later anyway and save myself some cooking.  Ha.  I think I was eating pasta for almost two weeks after that.  From then on, half orders were the way to go.
Lobster Carbonara
My regular order is their Chicken Pesto Pasta.  I hadn't been to Maggiano's in awhile so I was surprised to find it was no longer on the menu.  However, when I asked about it, our waiter assured me it could still be made to order.  I asked for it with angel hair pasta since I prefer the thinner noodles but when it came out, they had mistakenly made it with fettuccine.  Not a big deal since pasta is pasta but the manager did come over and apologize for the mistake which I thought was nice of them.  But seriously, not a big deal. I love pesto and they make it with a light broth rather than a cream sauce.
Chicken Pesto Pasta with pine nuts
I managed to eat sparingly, not because I was exerting willpower, but because I was consciously leaving room for dessert - which should surprise absolutely no one who's ever read my blog. There are only two desserts I ever get at Maggiano's and that's their Apple Crostada and Nonna's Pound Cake with bruleed bananas.  The Apple Crostada is a dessert my friend Pauline got me hooked on when Maggiano's first opened in our area.  It's basically a warm, smaller-sized version of a galette (open-faced, homey-looking apple "pie") topped with ice cream.  There are large sugar sprinkles outside the crostada to sweeten the dessert and provide a contrast to the tart apple filling.  My favorite part is the crust but the warm apple filling and the ice cream are a close second and third.
Warm Apple Crostada
The awesome thing about my friend Jeannie is when we talk about "sharing dessert", we both mean she'll get one and I'll get a different one and we'll share both. We don't actually mean splitting ONE dessert. Is that a meeting of the minds or what?  We're friends for good reasons and this is one of them.  Jeannie got the pound cake with caramelized bananas, ice cream and chocolate sauce.  The pound cake was thicker and more generously-sized than I remember but it was good.  Usually I like the bananas best in this dessert but this time around it seemed like they were just a tad too firm.  Either Maggiano's used somewhat green bananas or they should've warmed them up or cooked them a little before bruleeing them.  Or both. 
Nonna's Pound Cake with Caramelized Bananas
In any case, we both had a good time catching up as we hadn't seen each other in awhile. Jeannie battled breast cancer  last year and not only won but kicked its ass and sent it packing. If you ever want to see what "grace under fire" looks like, take a gander at her blog. I'm so glad she won that battle - she and I have many more desserts to share in the years to come.

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