It’s your basic restaurant chain. What else do you want me to say?
This review is NSFW.
Because, I WENT TO @#$%?ING MAGGIANO’S!!! THAT’S WHY!!
I’m a Food Blogger (as you can see from all the posts). I maintain just a bit of pride in my work. I like going to places that maybe you haven’t been before. I like going to places you don’t quite expect to try things you maybe haven’t tried before.
That’s why I went to a Meatball store in Hollywood that’s styled like an underground Sex Dungeon.
That’s why I go to Taiwanese Noodle Store decked out in paraphernalia form the Taiwanese Air Force. Look it up. It totally happened.
That’s why I go to the Heinan Chicken place that used to be a Pizzeria in Alhambra.
Okay that last one wasn’t so much of a sacrifice, but you get my point.
I guess that’s my overall point. I mean, it’s not like Maggiano’s serves bad food or anything. I wouldn’t even say it’s indifferently prepared.
I’m not sure how much love is in there either, but…you know what I mean.
Here’s the positive part. You will not have a bad meal at Maggiano’s. You may actually have a good time. You can slide up to the bar, with the wonderful Bar staff is there to see to your every need. You will be treated smashingly well while you’re there.
You will also not be able to shake the feeling that you could have done better. And I’m not talking La Piazza (the other Italian joint inside the Grove) better. The whole affair feels terribly corporate, planned and…without edge.
Now, I lived in New York for two years (Graduate School). I know what the places Maggiano’s seeks to imitate, feel like, smell like to their bones. So, on the one hand, I don’t miss the Homeless guy sitting outside. I don’t miss the smell (made from an ungodly combination of factors) that I smelled as I walked to places like these. So in one way, the Corporate feel of the place is welcome.
But the naturalness is gone. Places in the actual Little Italy like this were…kinda stuffed into the spaces they could find. They grew out of need, and into the spaces, cracks and crevices they found.
But it’s okay. Maybe Angelenos don’t need all that old school pizazz. Maybe they just need a quick meal, well prepared.
Which is why I suggest going to Osteria Mamma.
But if you need a quick fix…
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Here’s the thing, as I’ve gotten older, as I’ve gotten more in the Food Blog thing, when I’ve been forced to eat at Corporate Chains, or in a Food Court Milieu, I’ve tried to get something both exceptionally tasty, and…hopefully…the closest thing to something an actual person from that area would eat.
In the case of Italian…well, I’m not sure that that is, at least looking at the Maggiano’s menu. Plus, I’m not as good at Italian as I am with other, more Asian fair.
When I’m at an Italian place, I try to avoid the Lasagna now, even though I like it. I want to expand my Italian Gastronomic vocabulary as it were. That ain’t happening though at Maggiano’s. So now, I turn to the Gnocchi and Italian Sausage, made with Basil and a Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce.
What can I say, it was good. It was fine. I liked it. I probably have it again, but at the same time, here I am barely a week from the dinner, and I barely remember how it tastes.
I also got a cup of the Tuscan Chicken Sausage Soup, which was good, but again…not something that sticks in the memory.
The ting that did stick in my memory was the Cocktail I had before hand, the Elderflower Collins. A nice, light, sparkly cocktail, perfect for a hot summer’s day, which this was. It has a slight bitter taste to it, which…gotta say, made the drink. It was a good bitter. Definitely from the Elderflowers.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: The one thing I’ve got to say is, as many people go in here, they’ve got room for them all. If you’re worried about having to wait a long time. Don’t. This place is huge, TARDIS huge, bigger on the inside…
PARKING: This is going to sound weird, but…it’s Los Angeles. How could it not, right?
When you hang out at the Grove, remember you are shopping one of two distinct shopping areas: The Grove and the Farmer’s Market. The two do not always get along, and can make parking validation for customers confusing.
Maggiano’s is part of the Grove. You can park in their structure, and get validation there…or the movies, or at the Barnes and Noble. The Farmer’s Market is a separate entity.
Long story short: Park at the Grove’s structure. There is Valet, but…the quickest, cheapest option is the Grove Structure.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Nothing really to report here. It’s a big…corporate chain restaurant. It’s huge. I mean, mega-huge. Two levels, I’d-be-shocked-if-there’s-waiting huge. But other than that, all the edges have been sanded off. Expect no weirdness.
Maggiano’s of Little Italy
189 The Grove Dr. Suite Z80
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 965-9665
Sunday-Thursday: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm