Oct 2006

Maggiano’s Little Italy – Philadelphia

October 13, 2006
Cuisine: Italian

1201 Filbert St, Philadelphia 19107
At N 12th St

Phone: 215-567-2020
Website: www.maggianos.com

Appetizer: Full Order Parmesan Garlic Bread ($4.95)

Entree I: Full Order Lobster Ravioli – Pasta stuffed with fresh Maine lobster, roasted corn, garlic and basil, topped with Parmesan and Romano cheese baked in a light cream sauce with roasted peppers and applewood smoked bacon ($21.95)

Entree II: Half Order Chianti Beef Stew – Tender cuts of sirloin with onions in a Chianti wine sauce, finished with portobello and button mushrooms served over a bed of pappardelle pasta ($12.95)

While I generally frown upon chain restaurants, my frown is always turned upside down at Maggiano’s. The Astronomer and I, along with the entire Swarthmore Cross Country team, dined at Maggiano’s for a pre-meet dinner. I tagged along to take advantage of the Fall Harvest Specials. I had a small order of the Chianti Beef Stew, while the Astronomer had a large order of the Lobster Ravioli. We shared a large order of the garlic bread with five others at our table.

Gastronomer: First off, I’d just like to say what a pleasure it is dining with runners. They are SUCH good eaters! Love it! Okay, now on to the food… We’ve had the garlic bread on many occasions. The Astronomer always orders it even though Maggiano’s serves bread on the table for free. While I find ordering extra bread sort of redundant, I must admit the garlic bread is very tasty. It’s moist yet crispy, not greasy, and so savory. The Parmesan cheese and parsley sprinkled on top intensifies the flavor.

Astronomer: Maggiano’s may well be my favorite restaurant ever, so needless to say I enjoyed the meal. Most of our party was new to the Maggiano’s experience, so I felt it was imperative that they try the amazing Parmesan garlic bread–a Maggiano’s staple. The garlic bread is always succulent and perfectly flavored. We gobbled it up in no time.

Entree I:
Astronomer: I was feeling “hungry hungry,” so I attacked the complementary breads. I ate so much that I was worried I might be overwhelmed by my pasta, but fortunately the full order of lobster ravioli was not too large. Unfortunately, actually. There were only THREE ravioli. They were large and delicious, and there was plentiful cream sauce and lots of bacon bits, but still, I expected a bit more from Maggiano’s. I managed to leave the restaurant feeling pleasantly stuffed, but only after dipping large quantities of bread in my extra sauce and helping to finish some leftover ice cream. Complaints about quantity aside, my ravioli was everything I had hoped for. The lobster flavor really came through nicely, and the bacon and cheese were excellent complements. I’m glad I took advantage of the Fall Harvest menu, but from now on I vow to abstain from ravioli at Maggiano for the foreseeable future.

Gastronomer: Since the ravioli portions were a bit on the skimpy side, I only had one small bite of the dish. While Maggiano’s flavors generally consist of salty and cheesy, I found the ravioli quite mild.

Entree II:
Gastronomer: I loved my pasta! I wish the Chianti Beef Stew were a menu mainstay rather than a fleeting special. Sigh… The fall harvest menu ends on the 25th, so I have about a week left to indulge. The stew was perfectly seasoned, the meat was tender and plentiful, and the vegetables (carrots and mushrooms) were lovely foils. Pappardelle is my favorite pasta shape and went perfectly with the flavorful stew. So hearty and delicious.

Astronomer: I tried a couple of bites of the Gastronomer’s beef stew. It was pretty awesome–I would consider ordering it myself if it ever becomes a permanent fixture on the menu.

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