Sort of.  I’ll let you know how the gastrically altered might fare here, but I want to give you the overall review of the restaurant first.

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.

The crab cakes did come plated with a salad that was REALLY good – very flavorful.

Next up – salads.

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