Restaurant Review (Sorta): Maggiano’s

Meatballs by Maggiano's.

Last week, Andrew Chalk interviewed Ted Allen. The dynamic duo met at Maggiano’s. Blasphemy! A chain restaurant and not one of Dallas’ finest to parade before the famous man from the Food Network? However, after one meal at Maggiano’s, it sounds like Andrew has been born again. Listen.

Ted Allen, ardent foodie, began his remarks by making the point that he stayed away from multi-site restaurants, but he considered Maggiano’s an exception. I was skeptical but as the meal with Ted progressed, I learned a lot of things about Maggiano’s. Like, they bake their own bread, mozzarella cheese, and ice cream.

Each one is a serious effort. The bread is a chewy farmhouse loaf with a crust that lacerates the mouth, just like a true baguette. Frankly, I wish they sold this retail. The ice cream is actually a rose petal gelato. I might up the intensity of the rose (Samar is the reference example) but the clarity of flavor, the smoothness of the ice cream, were both dead on. The menu for the evening was served by an on-cue brigade and service staff and took less than one hour. Allen was on a tight schedule and had to make his Taste of Addison appearance. Here is what we ate.

Jump for the joy of eating.Appetizers
Local Tomato Bruschetta
Grilled Shrimp and Octopus Crostini
Creamy Polenta and Braised Beef Cheeks
First Course
Veal Meatballs with Homemade mozzarella Cheese (see photo above)
Spinach and Pine Nuts in a Tomato Cream Sauce
Second Course
Bass Salad with Arugula Served with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Third Course
Lamb Osso Buco
Scallops Saltimbocca
Fourth Course
Pear and Apple Crostada with White Pepper and Rose Petal Gelato

I especially liked the veal meatballs and the lamb osso buco. The latter was served on a bed of polenta, contrasting the earthiness and robustness of the meat with a sweetness and softness that was redolent of home cooking.
Behind this effort is Executive Chef Johnny Poche and General Manager Roy Davis. This meal was instructive to me about what has changed there recently. Especially that bread.

14 comments on “Restaurant Review (Sorta): Maggiano’s

  1. They do sell the bread at retail, Andrew. Just walk down the hall past the shared kitchen to Corner Bakery.

  2. So, do they “bake” the ice cream….or do they “make” their ice cream? Typo?

  3. I’ve been twice. Underwhelmed both times. Never saw the need to return for a third visit.

  4. Suppose if we all had the cooks fawn on us and deliver the real goods it might make the grade on a daily basis, but having an obvious shill like Allen feed you (and he was making eyes at you) is no need for hordes of us unsuspecting souls to trample into our local branch of the pasta barn. No thanks.

  5. I don’t believe this location has a corner bakery or for that matter ever did. The partnership of the companies dissolved years ago. The menu sounds divine!

  6. Correct – Maggiano’s no longer uses Corner Bakery bread, but they do use an Artisnal style bread that is Ciabatta-esque with a Baguette like crust. Kudos to Chef Johnny Poche…..all those years of family cooking in Louisina and Europe paid off.

  7. Have you ever even been to Northpark, Noodles? Unless you enter Maggiano’s from the exterior, you have to walk THROUGH Corner Bakery.

  8. Grib – I have been to the Northpark location many times, thank you. This dinner was at Willow Bend and THAT was the reason for my comment. I prefer the bread since the split from Corner Bakery!

  9. I am a fan of Chef Poche and Maggiano’s. We are always pleased with our meal!

  10. Johnny Pcche is one of the finest chefs in Dallas! Look to see him open his own restaurant in the near future.

  11. I hate to say this,, but I’m a former N.Yorker and have dined at some truly excellent Italian Restaurants. My visits to Maggiano’s have been really very ordinary, nothing to write home about. I have not tried the mussels, one of my favorites and I’ll try it there!