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Lunch » Tags » Restaurants » Reviews » Maggiano's Little Italy - Oak Brook

Maggiano's Little Italy - Oak Brook

1 rating: 5.0
Restaurants
1 review about Maggiano's Little Italy - Oak Brook

Genuine (City) Italian Cuisine in the Suburbs!

  • Mar 3, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Excellent food, ambiance, and service.

Cons: Food and wine can be pricey.

The Bottom Line: If you are looking for great homemade-style Italian cuisine in an intimate setting for two or family style layout, you can do no better then Maggiano’s Little Italy.

My wife and I both love Italian food; she not as much as I, but she would never turn down good Italian cuisine. And finding a good Italian restaurant in the suburbs has proved challenging to say the least. But not long before we were married we attended a ballet production of Don Quixote in downtown Chicago and happened upon Maggiano’s Little Italy not too far from the theater. The experience was a memorable one, from the food the atmosphere, from the wait staff to the service, everything was perfection, and it left quite an impression.

Now it is a rare event when we get into Downtown Chicago together; my work takes me into the city frequently, but we live some forty miles west of the loop (main business district of Chicago). But we loved the Maggiano’s Little Italy experience so much that we wanted to go back, and decided that it would become a Wedding Anniversary tradition. Just on a whim I looked the restaurant up on the Internet and discovered a location much closer to us in Oak Brook, Illinois only 25 miles from our house. So, for the past five years Maggiano’s Little Italy has been our Wedding Anniversary tradition.

About The Restaurant

Maggiano’s Little Italy is a chain restaurant with the look and feel of an established neighborhood icon. The very first Maggiano’s Little Italy opened in 1991, and the restaurant boasts that most of their recipes “have been handed down from generation to generation, some date back to the 1890's. Our dishes are made with the freshest ingredients and are prepared from scratch every day.”

Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurants are now located in 17 states and the District of Columbia, but unlike other chain restaurant, that seem to proliferate like a plaque of locusts, populating every strip mall in every town, Maggiano’s Little Italy usually has only one restaurant in any one given state. There are exceptions; for instance Illinois has four restaurants all in and around Chicago, while Wisconsin only has one restaurant.

Atmosphere & Service

The Maggiano’s Little Italy in Oak Brook is actually part of the Oak Brook Mall complex and as such is not a stand-alone restaurant. However the outside façade of the restaurant is decorated in tasteful old-Italy style motif that is mirrored to a large extent on the inside of the establishment. The tables and booths are made of dark woods and the lighting is semi-dark invoking a cozy feel as soon as you step foot inside the restaurant. The tone engenders a romantic ambiance that couples will find inviting, but there is also a family atmosphere denoted by the large quantity of booths in the restaurant, and the large number of long tables for family style dinning.

The restaurant is divided up into different sections, and you are seated according to your reservation request; i.e. the center of the establishment is devoted to couples, while another room is dedicated to family-style seating. There is also a banquet hall towards the back of the restaurant. And oh yes, reservations are required for dinner and strongly advised for lunch, because the restaurant is always full. There is a bar at the entrance with an abundance of bar stools where you can sip a drink until seated. There are also small tables in this area, and you can order food from the kitchen and eat at the bar if so inclined.

Like all of dinning experience more often than not we tend to go to Maggiano’s Little Italy in the off-hours (before 5:00pm), and there is always someone at the entrance to the restaurant to greet us. There is no self-seating option so we have to wait for someone to seat us; at times despite reservations we have had to wait to be seated because the place was so packed. Once seated however, our waitress is always very friendly, and attentive, taking our drinks and or appetizer order within minutes after we’ve been seated.

Our food always arrives in a respectable amount of time; we have never had to wait longer then 25 minutes or so for our main course to be served. And while we wait, there is always a full basket of freshly backed bread on the table, accompanied by olive oil and butter. The food when it arrives is never cold, or semi-warm, it is always piping hot and delicious. There is always plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese and red peppers on the table, along with salt and black pepper.

As to my liking our waitress—or waiter—usually checks in once or twice during the meal. They never hover or try to be too attentive; there is nothing worse then being asked multiple times during the course of the meal if everything is okay; I’ll be sure and let you know if it isn’t.

A carry-out menu is available, and the restaurant encourages phoned-in and faxed orders; ordering over the Internet is not available.

Menu Choices & Food

Each Maggiano’s Little Italy has an Executive Chef on staff; for the Oak Brook location his name is Chris Minuti. In addition the menu is divided up into several different menus including the Lunch menu, Family Style Luncheon menu, Dinner menu, and Family Style Dinner menu. And of course as I mentioned above, there is a Carryout menu, the food from which is packed in foil containers to maintain the heat.

Dinner Menu:

Appetizers
Soups & Salads
Potatoes & Vegetables
Maggiano’s House Specials
Pasta
Chicken
Steak, Veal & Chops
Seafood
Desserts
Beverages


As demonstrated by the menu choices above, the selection of food at Maggiano’s Little Italy is quite extensive, and like most chain restaurants the appetizers tend to be meals onto themselves. The first time my wife and I visited Maggiano’s Little Italy we had stuffed clams off the appetizer menu; they were delicious; light, buttery, and full of flavor. We were disappointed when we visited the restaurant next time to discover that stuff clams were gone; we were told they were seasonal, but have yet to see them again. But because the main courses at Maggiano’s Little Italy tent to be large, we usually abstain from ordering appetizers.

While I am adventurous and willing to try something new every time we eat out, I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to Maggiano’s Little Italy; I tend to order the Spaghetti with Meatballs for $7.95 (lunch menu), $13.95 (dinner menu), with a side of Italian Sausage for $1.95. And my wife usually orders either the Chicken Parmesan for 14.95 (dinner menu), or the Maggiano’s House Special Lasagna with Meat Sauce for a mere $13.95.

Over all the food never disappoints, probably because unlike most chain restaurants, the food at Maggiano’s Little Italy is freshly prepared daily. The meatballs in the Spaghetti with Meatballs meal are always cooked to perfection and bursting with flavor, and they are so tender they almost meat in my mouth. And the Chicken Parmesan is equally as scrumptious.

The order sizes are large, and way too much food to eat in one sitting; in fact we have never failed to take at least half of our plates home with us. The meatballs for instance are huge and try as I might I can usually only finish one with some pasta, before I have to ask for a doggy bag.

Prices

The prices at Maggiano’s Little Italy are not cheap; even the lunch menu is fairly pricey, but it well worth the cost. The cost coupled with the distance of the restaurant from our house tends to limit our forays to Maggiano’s Little Italy to once or twice a year; the aforementioned wedding Anniversary celebration, and another time later in the year.

Appetizers range in price from $3.95 for an order of Crispy Onion Strings, which is described as “[T]hinly sliced onions, dusted with seasoned flour and fried until crispy,” to $12.95 for the Bombalina Platter, which is described as “[A]n assortment of our favorite appetizers, including stuffed mushrooms, crispy zucchini, bruschetta, and spinach artichoke al forno.” Be prepared to spend at least $20.00 per person for dinner and beverages at Maggiano’s Little Italy

Sample Dinner menu prices:

Minestrone - Cup: $1.95 Bowl: $3.95
Caesar Salad - 1/2 order: $5.95; Full order: $9.95
Classic Chopped Salad with Chicken - 1/2 order: $7.95; Full order $10.95
Fresh Asparagus: $6.95
Creamed Spinach: $5.95
Chicken & Spinach Manicotti, Maggiano's Style: $12.95
Lasagna, Our Special Recipe, Meat or Marinara Sauce: $13.95
Veal & Mushroom Ravioli 1/2 Order: $10.95 /$14.95
Spaghetti, Meatball or Sausage: 1/2 order: $10.95 /$13.95
Shells, Roasted Vegetables, Tomato Pesto Broth: 1/2 order: $9.95 / $12.95
Linguine, White Clam Sauce 1/2 order: $11.95 / $14.95
Garlic Shrimp, Shells 1/2 order: $12.95 / $15.95
Chicken Saltimbocca, with Prosciutto, Provolone: $14.95
Whole Roast Chicken, Rosemary, Garlic 1/2 order: $12.95 / $15.95
J. Cammarrari's Roast Chicken Vesuvio: 1/2 order: $13.95 / $16.95
Beef Medallions, Portabella Mushrooms, Garlic Mashed Potatoes: $25.95
Prime New York Steak, 18 ounce: $37.95
Veal Milanese: $19.95
Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Mustard Sauce: $22.95
Baked Shrimp Oreganata: $22.95


Other Useful Information:

Lunch is served Monday through Saturday between 11:15am and 3:00pm (lunch is not served on Sunday) and the prices on the lunch menu are usually half that on the dinner menu, because the portion size is less. Dinner is served between 3:00pm and 10:00pm Monday – Saturday, and to 9:00pm on Sunday. Dinner is server all day on Sunday from 11:15am to 9:00pm.

Alcoholic beverages are available for dine-in only. I am not a big wine drinker but Maggiano’s Little Italy has a full array of domestic and imported wines for your drinking pleasure. And like most upscale specialty restaurants, there is a separate wine menu, although your waiter, or waitress, will recommend a wine to you based on your order choice. Like the food menu prices, the prices of the bottles of wine are expensive, but you can always order from the bar.

Conclusion

Maggiano’s Little Italy is by far our favorite Italian restaurants. The atmosphere is cozy, the service is always impeccable, the food is delectable, and the prices, while not as low as I’d like, are tolerable given our location. If you are looking for great homemade-style Italian cuisine in an intimate setting for two or family style layout, you can do no better then Maggiano’s Little Italy. Next time you are in Oakbrook Illinois stop by.


Recommended:
Yes

Kid Friendliness: Yes
Vegetarian Friendly: Yes
Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations Spaghetti with Meatballs, with a side of Italian Sausage and Chicken Parmesan.
Best Suited For: Kids and Families

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