Saturday, January 24, 2009
Why I love Maggiano's
I tend to shy away from chain restaurants, especially because of my extreme sensitivity to gluten. I also want to support the local independent businesses. There are exceptions, though. I live in central Cincinnati, so going out to the mall is an event; I think it's just more of the mindset going from an urban setting to a suburban setting. Today I had to run some errands at Kenwood Town Centre and my sweet husband offered to join me and suggest we do lunch at Maggiano's. I was so excited!
Maggiano's has been such an incredible supporter to the local Cincinnati Support Group; they hold two events there per year for us. What's even more amazing is the every staff member there actually looks forward to hosting these semi-annual congregation of difficult eaters. Wow. The also carry a local gluten free baker's items - Shelly Ritchie from Moondance Desserts. Even though they are a huge chain, they do care about the community and even buy-in local made foods to support these local businesses such as Moondance. (Which by the way, all of her desserts are deliciously decedent.)
By the time we made it to Maggiano's, it was more like a late lunch on a cold Saturday. We were promptly seated with our lunch menus. On the menu, under 'pasta selections' you could opt for gluten free pasta. No, this wasn't a separate menu, just stated as a matter-of-fact on the regular menu. I asked our waitress if the meatballs were GF, she said "no, they have bread crumbs. I'll send out our Chef to talk to you." The chef greeted me at the table a couple of minutes later and said, "you're my favorite customer in here today." I said "you're my favorite restaurant today." I asked him about the meatballs, and he offered to make some from scratch for me with no breadcrumbs. I told him I was more in the mood for the chicken pesto linguine anyway, with the delicious, yellow corn pasta. He said that was too easy. I asked him about calamari, and he offered to pan fry it in cornstarch. What an awesome offer. Since it was lunch, I just opted for one pasta dish only with no apps.
When my dish came out, it was beautiful and large enough to feed two people. The linguine had been substituted with yellow corn eliche which held all the tasty pesto better in the surface area within the spirals. The texture was a perfect al dente; the chicken was shredded, tender and the white; and the pesto was tasty, even though I found it to be on the mild side. The pesto had spinach in it to punch up the green color and tone down the harsh garlic and intense basil. It was good. I took half of it home for breakfast tomorrow. Then, the waitress presented us with a smart plate of four stacked strips of Shelly Ritchie's gluten free brownies with whipped cream and fresh mint leaves, saying "compliments of the kitchen." Jackpot! I love this place. When we were leaving, they all said, "please come back and visit us." Yes I will, hopefully for some calamari.
The Sensitive Epicure
Posted by Erin Swing