Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Maggiano's Little Italy

I'd been hearing good things about Maggiano's Little Italy for months. 

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. 

Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon


VeggieGirl said...

Glad you liked it - I got sick there :-(

Dana Wax said...

yikes - you know, I've heard about other people getting sick at other locations, too.

i can't say i liked it, exactly, but i certainly like the idea of it.'s funny, my mom tried her soup before we got our food and she said "i can see why there are a lot of elderly people in this place - the food is totally spiceless."

"you mean, flavorless", I offered.

"yeah, perfect for people like me," she said, happily eating her soup.

to each his own, I guess

H.Peter said...

Not being allergic to anything, I enjoyed Maggiano's.
We had a chance to visit the orginal Chicago location before they went national and could not believe the size of their portions.
The waitress kept syaing half protions I recommend half portions...

I am also proud do say that quite a few of the furnishings in their Las Vegas location came from my warehouse.

Hope you have a "spicier" experience next time

jacobithegreat said...

I heard from my boss that the Maggiano's over here had a GF menu, but when I called the lady had no idea what I was talking about!

Dana Wax said...

h.peter - How cool that you're a part of Maggiano's in Las Vegas! It's amazing how everyone is connected sometimes, huh?

I'm also glad that you had a good meal there. Lots of people do. My mom certainly enjoyed I enjoyed your pun... :)

Jennifer - I had a similar experience at First Watch - this really pre-fabbed breakfast / lunch chain place my family likes for some reason - and anyway, the first person I talked to had no idea what I was talking about.

BUT the internet had told me they had a GF menu, so I persisted, asked another person, and lo and behold I got the GF menu. ...Of course this is after anther waitress told me "oh, I think all of our food is gluten free" ..sigh. Oh well, at least she learned something!

Maureen "Hold The Gluten" said...

I totally agree with your post!!! My hubby & I went to Maggiano's for the first time while in Vegas this summer. I was so excited about their GF free menu and that the chef spoke with me directly. I was not so excited about the "blah" factor. I mean seriously, is it that difficult to make gluten free food that tastes good?!

PS - Your comment about your mom liking the "spiceless" soup cracked me up!!

Anonymous said...

When I went to Maggiano's everything was perfect dude. Also I 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.
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Clark Adams said...

As you've said, many restaurants are making an effort in connecting with their potential customers. It's not just restaurants, I think. A lot of companies are doing so, but your blog does talk about food, so I guess I'll limit the talk to just restaurants, or maybe use just a few analogies with companies.

Effective customer data management can help you maintain good relationships with your customers. You must always keep them updated with your promos, products, and all that. Don't let them fall behind; make sure that they run on the same pace as you. Companies use data management tools as accreditation solutions to help them will all of the data collection. That way, the data won't have to be arranged in the classic manual way.

That's enough business talk right there. Let's talk about the food! I'll be looking forward to trying that gluten-free restaurant soon. I never knew Cleveland has restaurants like this. Post more!

James said...

I am also proud do say that quite a few of the furnishings in their Las Vegas location came from my warehouse.

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