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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lunch Report: Maggiano's Little Italy...

I didn't really like Olive Garden all that much anyway. And since taking my wife to Maggiano's at The Rim last week, she has reported that she won't settle for Olive Garden for her Italian food needs.
We went in around 1:30 missing the major lunch rush and got a seat immediately which was a good start. If you haven't heard from others already, plan on spending a fair amount of time dining; these folks aren't in a rush to feed you and get you out of the place. And I mean that in a positive way. I am the type of person who wants to eat, get the bill, pay and get out, but the slower pace of things actually made for an enjoyable lunch where I wasn't ready to pass out from exhaustion the minute I finished eating. Perhaps the Europeans could teach us a thing or two.
Inside, Maggiano's is very nice. This is a chain restaurant but not in a shabby sort of way. It all looked very elegant and my wife fully expected to see Tony Soprano dining with one of his goomars, had the show not ended. It seems to me like a place you would want to get a little dressed up for, but certainly jeans and t-shirts were the norm for lunch the day we went.
Our waiter brought us some bread which was wonderful and gave us a while to consider the menu while he found us some iced tea. Kudos for keeping my glass filled every time it got to about the half-way mark. I like that in a waiter.
We can't pass up Calamari whenever we go to an Italian place, so we ordered up an appetizer to kick things off. I enjoyed the breading and really enjoyed the dipping sauce. I've had better Calamari, but this was fine. I just wish they offered a smaller portion. If I could get a plate about a third the size of that, it would be great for two people wanting just a little taste. Of course, not wanting to be wasteful, we ate all of it.
We got side salads and made the mistake of asking for Ranch dressing. Okay, that was sort of embarrassing. The waiter looked at us like we were bumpkins. Instead we had some sort of sweet honey Italian dressing that was just wonderful. In fairness, my wife was not as pleased with her salad because she felt like some of her lettuce was throw-away cuts. It all looked good to me. Had we been in a more private booth, I might have picked up my bowl and licked it clean. It was just that good.
I'm sure there are dozens of other dishes that we should have tried, but both of us immediately zeroed in on the lasagna, and we were glad we did. The sauce was simply out of this world good. It was actually sweeter than any sauce I have had and the waiter told us that they do add sugar. The portion was huge and in fact, given the amount of Calamari, bread and salad we consumed, it was no doubt we would be boxing up at least half the lasagna. Loaded with cheese, sausage, meat - all things I love, it was really wonderful, but the sauce made it that much better.
There was no way to even consider dessert, but then the waiter told us about the little sample sizes. We tried the cheese cake and some sort of apple crisp. Both were great.

Several neighbors and friends had told us about what a great place Maggiano's is and we concur completely. As we dined, we watched a group at a nearby table participating in the family style dinner. The gist of it is, you select a few items from each part of the menu - two appetizers, two salads, two entrees, two desserts, and then they bring you enough of it for everybody at the table. But you really need a minimum of four people to take advantage of it. Anyway, each time they would bring out the next course, for the folks we were spying on, we would lick our lips and stare at the food. We must have looked like regular stalkers.
The place is not inexpensive, but for a special occasion or just because you need to get some good Italian food, it is very much worth it. And again, don't be in a hurry. It isn't bad service when they are purposely pacing your meal. You'll enjoy the time and you'll agree that Maggiano's is a Tasty Treat.

1 comment:

Four Dinners said...

I suddenly have this inexplicable urge for a traditional Italian dish commonly served with parmesan cheese.

Can't think why....;-)

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I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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