It’s not often I arrive at a restaurant without my wine carrier containing one and probably two bottles for consumption with my meal. Last night was one of those exceptions. Our regular Friday Night Eight (I guess a better name for a dining crowd like this would be Friday Night ATE) ventured away from the BYOB venues of South Jersey and made our way to the totally revamped Cherry Hill Mall environs to dine at Maggiano’s Little Italy. This is one of three locations in our area for this national chain. The other two are at 12th and Filbert in Philly and King of Prussia. I had forgotten that Maggianno’s offers Family Style dining. For a fixed price ($26.50 per person, in our case) the table chooses two appetizers, two salad types, two pasta dishes, two entrees, two desserts and choice of two clergy to perform last rites. Plates of those items are then brought to the table, shared by all, more can be ordered, left-overs from each group boxed and bagged for take home, resuscitators provided for any who collapse from over-eating and pretty much every other type of service you would expect from those presiding over a food orgy. Truth be told, it’s NOT a bad way to eat. Sure, I missed my wine but I had a Samuel Adams draft and I was quite content. Here’s what we had:
For salads we had the Caesar and the Maggiano. On a four star basis I give 2 to the Caesar and 3 and a half to the Maggiano. I’m not a big salad fan but this one was VERY tasty. For appetizers we had the Bruschetta (crust a tad too crispy) and the Crispy Zucchini Fritte. I didn’t think I was a zucchini fan either but these were terrific. The crispy strips were coated with Japanese bread crumbs and served with a lemon aoili sauce that was a perfect addition. So far, I’m semi-impressed. Now I am awaiting the REAL food. One of our entree choices was the Eggplant Parmagian, which I don’t eat, so I picked the Chicken Parmigian for the other entree figuring that was a safe bet. For pasta they chose the Chicken Pesto Linguine, Linguine pasta tossed with roasted chicken, pesto and pine nuts in a parmesan broth with a hint of lemon. The other pasta was the Chicken and Spinach Manicotti, savory crepes filled with chicken meat, ricotta aglio spinach, asiago cheese, covered with a house cheese and baked to a golden brown. The chicken parm was good, the linguini pesto was excellent, although I didn’t realize the chicken in that dish was hiding at the bottom and now resides in containers at Jerry and Sue’s house. The manicotti was wonderful. It was a really good meal made better by the fact that I went there with no expectations. Now, for the desserts:
That little item to your left is called Chocolate Zuccatto Cake. I vote we change the name to something more appropriate like Huge Mountain of Rich Food Just in Case You Can Squeeze in Another Morsel . We liked it. Here is the other concoction that appeared among the rubble at the end of the meal.
This one was called Apple Crostada, Caramel Sauce
Warm apple filling of Granny Smith apples, sugar, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, baked in a pastry crust dipped in cream and crystallized sugar. Served with caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Garnished with mint. We managed to finish this one just prior to the call going out to the local EMT’s to get here quickly with their paddles. It would have helped if we could have left the cars and walked home but that didn’t happen. Happily, although Maggiano’s made every attempt to kill us with too much food, we survived to eat again.
One final note. It was actually surprising that with this much food the quality was excellent. I could do this again…..hey, we doin anything tonight???