January 16, 2005
The dinner price for family-style, per person, is $23.95, which gives you unlimited amounts of two each of appetizers, salads, pastas, entrees, and desserts. A la carte entrees are about $15 each.
The food is different than the food at the other good Italian restaurant franchises like Macaroni Grill, Carabba's, or Buca di Beppo's because ALL of Maggiano's food is unique and tasty. The Italian salad is not your ordinary salad; they put so many different things in it that I wouldn't even be able to name them all. The small sticks of creamy cheese in it are one tasty example, even though I hate the taste of any other unmelted cheese. My personal-favorite entree is the lightly breaded chicken Saltimbocca in onion sauce. The desserts are absolutely divine! If you can't afford the meal, just get either the tiramisu or cheesecake. I know, I know, The Cheesecake Factory is right next door, but this cheesecake is FAR BETTER than anything there. It is so light and airy that it is almost a disservice to call it cheesecake. I am not a big tiramisu fan, but theirs does not have the usual overpowering alcohol flavor and is not too dry or too chocolatey– it’s perfectly delicious!
To complete the authentic Italian family-home atmosphere, the restaurant has two levels of eating, a front parlor bar complete with baby grand piano, played live on weekend nights, three banquet rooms that can be combined, and an outdoor garden courtyard, complete with fountain and little white lights on the foliage. The courtyard dining is very romantic, and propane lamp heaters allow them to extend the outdoor dining season. The interior decor is full of dark-wood accents, dim lighting with chandeliers and candle sconces, and giant mirrors mingled with antique family photos in ornate frames on the walls, while iridescent accent tiles highlight the floors of the front entrance and bathrooms. The ornately framed antique art and wooden doors that adorn each bathroom stall make you feel more like you are in someone's guest bathroom than a public restaurant.
Every detail about Maggiano's comes together to give you a unique dining experience. The maitre’d even seems very Italian; his name is Vasso, and he walks around in a waistcoat, with his tie in an ascot knot. But don't get me wrong—this isn't a formal restaurant, just a bit more upscale and better than the usual. The place is always busy on weekends, so DO make a reservation a few days in advance.
From journal Cincinnati: An Insider/Outsider's Perspective