These days, more and more chain restaurants are making an effort to connect customers with their gluten-free fair. From Carrabba's to Qdoba, national chains are making an allergy-friendly splash in a big way, providing on line and in person annotated gluten free menus.
These menus isolate the already gluten free offerings - steak, fish, chicken, without a glutenous sauce, or a salad without croutons and the like. And though such a service is great, as it ensures the waitstaff and kitchen takes us celiacs seriously rather than brushing us off as finicky customers, few and far between is chain restaurant goes out of it's way to provide gluten free option.
Maggiano's Little Italy offers gluten free pasta. Now that's celiac service.
After some careful deliberations between the options, I settled on the Chicken Pesto Linguine - though I substituted broccoli for the chicken, and gluten free penne for linguine - and a salad with gluten free salad dressing.
The truly cool and exceptional thing about Maggiano's is that the sous chef - Chef Chuck - took the time to talk to me. He arrived holding a special, bright yellow, gluten free ordering pad and retook my order, assuring me of a gluten-free meal; something he could assure me of, as he'd be making my dinner personally. It's great to eat out pretty much fear-free.
And another note about the pasta dinners. They're huge. I mean huge. After eating my fill, I had enough left overs for two, yes two, dinners afterwards. I'm pretty sure one "serving" is a full box of pasta. And I'm only talking about the half order here.
Yes, Maggiano's provides excellent food allergy friendly dining (I've heard they're just as accommodating with any food allergy you can throw at them), but I can't give it an absolutely glowing review. In the end, Maggiano's is a chain restaurant, and as such serves chain restaurant food. My pesto was good, not great, not bad, but just kind of average. Blandish. Food that's not offending, but nothing to write home about either.
That said, I'll be dining at Maggiano's again. It's nice to go somewhere that my family likes and with plenty of options, I'm sure to find something more enticing than bland pesto. I like having nearly the whole menu open to me, and its great to have "safe Italian food" in your gluten free restaurant roster. All in all, Maggiano's is no five star restaurant, but they do offer five star service.