Today I went to Maggiano's for lunch with "Amy". This was my first experience at Maggiano's, however Amy had been a few times prior. We were quickly seated near the front of the restaurant at a less than ideal table but we ended up having no issue with the location. Our waiter was quick to have water and fresh bread brought to our table while we browsed the menu. It would have been nice if the wait staff poured the olive oil onto the provided plate and added the pepper and parmesan cheese for us, but it appeared this was not customary here.
Whenever at a new restaurant I like to order a 'baseline' entree so that I can compare to past like-restaurants. I ordered the chicken parmesan which came with a side of spaghetti marinara. Amy ordered the eggplant parmesan which was served with penne marinara. While looking over the menu it appeared they have a nice selection of what they called 'classic pastas' which if ordered, came with an additional meal to be taken home. There was also a special "meal for two" and "meal for four" which would be something we may try upon our next visit. Overall, the menu had your typical itialian chain-restaurant options. Nothing caught my eye as overly rustic or original.
While waiting for our food we noticed the restaurant was playing Frank Sinatra on repeat. Although I would prefer Frank to many other artists, it got a little old after a while. The restaurant was fairly busy, I'm guessing a typical Sunday afternoon crowd, however we had no issue with hearing one another during conversation.
Once our food arrived we both dug right in. If you can't tell, I forgot to take a picture until after I was almost done. The chicken parmesan came with two good sized chicken breasts that were pan fried. The chicken was moist although I did not detect much additional flavor from any added herbs or seasoning. Portion wise, it was an excellent candidate to fill me up and still have more than enough to take home. Amy's eggplant parmesan also received good marks and was also large enough to be boxed up and brought home.
On to dessert. Amy is a big desert fan, although she did give it up as a New Year's resolution which she has been cheating on probably since day five. Amy ordered the apple crostada, which she said was a little heavy on the apple for her liking. I had the chocolate zuccotto, which was basically a two layer chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse layer in between. I was not pleased with this frozen food isle grocery store cake, the mousse was only half way spread between the layers of cake and the dessert as a whole was too cold. You could tell Maggiano's was not known for their desserts, but this would not prevent me from returning.
Overall, my first experience at Maggiano's near Keystone Mall was a pleasant one. The food was typical American-Italian fare that did not stretch the imagination but did provide the taste buds with something to crave. I would return if in the area, but I would not travel across land and sea to seek it out. This is an great restaurant to stop into while shopping, and the prices were fairly attractive considering the larger portion sizes.
Maggiano's Little Italy
3550 East 86th Street