Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maggiano's Little Italy

Location: 516 N Clark St.
Cost: Typical Dine in Cost is near $20 per person (our case where we catered in ran closer to $7 per person)

My med school is split up into 4 colleges. This is basically a simple way of dividing up the whole class for when smaller sessions are necessary. Additionally, each college has a mentor (Dr. Golden in my case) and holds events. We've done some pretty cool stuff like going to bulls games and live airings of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. On top of that we sometimes have a lunch get together in the middle of a busy day of classes. So the other day, our college's senator, I'll just call her Knuckles, had lunch catered in from Maggiano's.

I've also been to the restaurant itself a bunch of times, but I'm going to focus more on this meal. It's been a while since I've gone in, and this may be a more accurate portrayal.

Logistics
I never realized that we'd get so many catered lunches in medical school. You'd think it's rather hypocritical to learn about healthy behaviors and then get restaurant food on a rather regular basis (at least twice per week [and yes I realize the equal to or greater hypocrisy of my blog]). Either way, I've been able to see good and bad catered lunches enough to criticize them knowledgeably.

The delivery was a little late (about 10 minutes [ref. Maddie Jones]). It's not that big a deal to be late, but there is a certain allure to walking into a room filled with smells of Italian goodness. The food was delivered hot. Also, they had a typical red checkered table cloth to serve on which was a gimmicky added bonus.

I think the overall event cost less than $200 and served around 30 people. If you dine in, they have a pretty sweet deal. If you get a classic pasta dish for $12.95 they give you a whole other serving to take home automatically. I'm not saying it's amazing (since pasta is pretty cheap), but it is a lot of food for not much money.

The Food
Our order included some Parmesan Garlic Bread, Gnocchi in Tomato and Vodka Sauce, and Chicken Pesto Linguine. The garlic bread was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and excessively buttery. It had all of the flavors and textures in order, but I think it went a little overboard with the butter. The Gnocchi was practically gone by the time I got to it. It didn't seem homemade, but I wouldn't expect it to be, especially with a large catering order. The sauce was really tasty with a creaminess and tangy kick. The gnocchi itself was a bit tough but at least not super mushy like at Coco Pazzo. I was very impressed that the chicken in the Chicken Pesto Linguine wasn't overcooked (which is a common pitfall for large catering dishes with chicken). There could have been a better chicken to pasta ratio though. The linguine wasn't anything special, but the pine nuts added a good crunch and flavor to a few lucky bites. The pesto was a bit heavy on the cheese and oil. Still, a big unhealthy pasta dish can be done in the right way, which I think was the case here.

The Parmesan Garlic Bread

The Gnocchi with Tomato and Vodka Sauce

The Chicken Pesto Linguine

Overall
Maggiano's to me is a pretty standard Italian restaurant with big, bold flavors and large portions. There is a factor of overdoing the sauciness or oiliness of dishes that bugs me though. Still, I usually end up eating way past my hearts content, and every time I've eaten there it's been an overall good experience. Consistency is definitely a strong point here. I'm giving them 3 out of 5 Pearls.


I'd also like to throw a special "thanks / mad props / you're awesome" to Knuckles for putting this meal together.

Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

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