Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chaintastic Italian restaurants

Over the last 10 days, I've been in some of the upper-middle Italian chain restaurants in the area. It had been a long time since I'd been to a Maggiano's, and then I went twice within 8 days.

My first visit to a Maggiano's, I was in Philly doing some work for the School District of Philadelphia. The highlight of that assignment was going to both Pat's and Geno's on the same night, eating a cheesesteak at each establishment (one with whiz, one with provolone). And, I can't give much of a dissertation, but... I prefer Pat's. Anyhow, another time, I walked over to a Maggiano's and watched some sports in the bar. I wasn't really paying attention to the fact that it was family style, so when my salmon and pasta dishes arrived, it was a lot of food. Anyhow, they no longer serve family style now at Maggiano's, which likely is only news to me. The food is very good, though I'm not especially partial to Italian (I prefer the Pacific Rim flavors). Anyhow, I'd say Maggiano's is definitely above Olive Garden and slightly above Macaroni Grill (tho I prefer Macaroni Grill's bread). I'd put Maggiano's very even with Carraba's for chain-style Italian.

A few things I'd like to mention about Maggiano's, though, if you don't already know this. If you order a classic pasta entree, you get the one for your dine-in meal, and can also select another classic pasta entree to take home. That's decent value. If you have especially big appetites, you can also go the way of the Family Style deal, where you need a minimum group of 4. The family style deal has three levels of unlimited amounts of appetizers, salads, pastas, and desserts. It is quite a bargain if you can eat a lot of food.

We also had a work dinner at Bravo Italian this week. It is pretty tasty, too. Though the Italian salad at Bravo was pretty lame. Just too drenched in dressing, and I wonder if it hadn't sat in a big bowl for a long time, as much of the lettuce was pretty limp and had given up the fight against the dressing. Bravo slates in probably between Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill for me, though all of these chains are pretty dependable. I'd say they are all in the 3 to almost 4 belly rub territory. For a reference, my favorite local Italian place is Mama Carolla's, especially liking their rosemary chicken lasagna and their crab cakes.

I didn't feel like taking pictures at any of the places, but... well... hopefully this isn't too tacky, but the men's room at Bravo cracked me up... I'm assuming this urinal is ADA compliant, but... this area sure seemed narrow!

That reminds me... I've had this idea (likely inspired by Kramer's coffee table book) of a small book full of pictures of urinals. I've seen some whacky ones in my days, and I'm sure most guys have. It might make a good gift book idea, and would be perfect for reading material that you sometime find in someone's bathroom.

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