@PackerKay So sorry about Thor What a wonderful companion he was and I am certain he’ll be missed!
We began our main courses with two pasta dishes. The first one was from the Chef’s Choice menu of specialty pastas. The crab and shrimp tropheo was a hand twisted pasta with grape tomatoes and zucchini, with shrimp and crab tossed in a lemon garlic sauce. This wasn’t my favorite dish of the evening, but heated up the next day, it was really tasty. I can’t eat shrimp, it’s another one of those foods that gets stuck, but Jim and the kids thought they were perfectly cooked, as opposed to being cooked to a rubbery consistency. The sauce was very light the first time around, and I thought it could have used more garlic, but after a night in the fridge, it was just perfect heated up, with a nice garlicky flavor.
Our second pasta dish was angel hair pasta and sausage. To be fair to this dish, we used to go to a restaurant in Cherry Hill called the Italian Bistro. My all time favorite dish there was shells and sausage. The sauce was so delicious, the shells the perfect al dente, and the chunks of sausage throughout the dish were spicy and full of taste and textures that made you crave the meal weeks after you ate there. The angel hair and sausage was going to have to be incredible for me to love it.
I didn’t love it, but just because it paled in comparison to the Italian Bistro dish doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I would say at our table, this was the hit of the night. The kids loved the pasta and the mild sausage, asking for seconds on both. The tomato sauce was a light sauce, not thick or heavy, and it well suited the delicate pasta.
Yeah, I know the pasta in this photo is spaghetti, but this is the Maggiano’s spaghetti and sausage, and except for the thickness of the pasta, it is the dish we had.
The best dish of the night was the ultimate in comfort food. The braised beef short ribs, sitting on top of a vegetable couscous, resting in a shallow pool of homey brown gravy were a work of art. They were so tender, you could break them with your fork, and the gravy could have been eaten in a bowl all by itself. The vegetable couscous was the perfect accompaniment, with crisp veggies liberally scattered throughout. They gave you two big pieces of the rib – which we couldn’t finish among the four of us. It’s so nice when meat is tender enough for a gastric bypass patient to be able to eat it, enjoy it, and not worry about things getting stuck.
There is a local caterer who does a chicken marsala that is literally to die for. It is perhaps one of my favorite meals of all time. I’ve ordered it over the years at restaurants, but it never comes close to this caterer’s recipe.
As I mentioned, since surgery, chicken is not always my friend, so when I saw veal marsala on the menu, I opted for that. The girls were too full to even try it, and Jim barely touched it. I took a small piece of it, and it does come close to the marsala sauce I remember from that dish at the caterers, but the veal in this version was really chewy. It was definitely overcooked – regardless of my twisted tummy. The marsala gravy was very good, and the mushrooms just right, but the veal wasn’t edible for me the first time around, so I know the leftovers won’t be my friend.
There are two types of gastric bypass patients – those that can eat salad, and those that can’t. Of those of us that can eat salad, we can either eat whatever kind of salad we want, or we stick with chopped versions of salad – like the traditional Cobb salad.
If it’s just me, I always prefer the chopped salad. It’s easier to eat, they usually throw in all sorts of bonus proteins like eggs, avocado, and bacon. But the waiter come over with the incredibly glowing recommendation for the Italian Tossed Salad. He said, “It tastes just like the Olive Garden salad!” As we all know, people only ever eat at the Olive Garden for the salad and bread sticks, so I ordered the Italian tossed salad, and the Caesar, which Eilis wanted.
What do you know? The Maggiano’s tossed Italian salad tasted JUST like the Olive Garden tossed salad – with all the same components. As a matter of fact, the photo above is of the Olive Garden salad, but it looked so much like the Maggiano’s salad, I just used that one. It had a nice Italian dressing – a little too much, as it pooled on the bottom, and had tomatoes, romaine lettuce, olives, red onion and croutons. Tasty – just like Olive Garden.
The Caesar salad was really good. The dressing was creamy, and the huge slivers of Paremesan cheese shaved on top were delicious. Eilis ate nearly the entire Caesar salad on her own, but it’s okay, because if we had wanted, they would have brought more. Just like at the Olive Garden.
For those of you who are gastrically altered, there are options with way more protein, but one is the chicken and apple salad. I can’t eat much in the way of chicken – it gets stuck nearly every time. In addition to the chicken, there are walnuts in the salad, so you are getting more protein that way. The other salad that would have been better protein wise is the chopped antipasto (which I would have ordered had the kids not been there). That one carries a wallup of fat, though, with salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, and provolone cheese.
Overall, the salads were good, but if you have had gastric bypass, you are already too full to move on to the main course. I did – but only for your sake. The things I sacrifice for my blog readers!
Up next – the main courses!
We did not go into this trying to be cautious about my gastrically impaired self. This was a birthday celebration dinner, and since this is our first time at the Maggiano’s in Cherry Hill, we wanted to sample some things.
There are choices when you go to Maggiano’s if you are a party of four or more. You can order from the regular menu – which is a huge selection of pastas and other Italian specialty dishes, plus the salads, the soups, the appetizers and the desserts. Since there are four of us, we opt for one of the family style menus. The family style menu really contains much of what is on the regular menu, but it’s a prix fixe type of dining that includes up to two appetizers, two salads, four entrees, and two desserts. It sounds like the perfect way to have everyone try a bit of everything.
But wait – there’s more choices! If you opt for the family style menu, you now have to decide if you want to eat light (which includes fewer entrees and one dessert choice); the regular family style menu; or the chef’s choice family style menu. The Chef’s choice, which is what we opted for, includes entrees and appetizers not offered on the regular menu, and is more inclusive of the pricier entrees you’ll find on the individual menu.
The bonus here, for those of you who have been to Buca di Beppo and love the family style dining, is that you can have anything you want refilled – everything from the salads to the desserts. What a value!
We start with the fried calamari appetizer and the crab cake appetizer. The fried calamari is always a hit with my kids – tentacles and all – but sometimes, for a gastric bypassed stomach, they can be too chewy to enjoy. That wasn’t the case with these. Lightly breaded with just enough saltiness, these were perfectly cooked, not chewy. The sauce that accompanied them was okay – nothing to write home about – but the kids didn’t mind. They didn’t even use the sauce as they polished off one plate of calamari and eagerly nodded their heads yes when the waiter asked if they’d like some more.
The crab cakes were a little too heavily breaded with quite a bit of filler. There were some delicious chunks of crabmeat in there, but not enough that you’d want to make this your meal if you are relying on the protein content. The sauce that came with them was just a tiny bit spicy, and it really helped add to the flavor of the crab cakes. The kids were so full from the calamari, we ended up bringing home most of our crab cakes.
Next up – salads.