Brand new to Tampa - but familiar to those who dine frequently in Chicago or Boston - Maggiano's is a remarkable experience; which, to be fully realized, requires a minimum of four people.
For about $20pp you'll be brought two appetizers (the mushroom ravioli al forno are astounding), two salads (both the caesar and the house maggiano salad were fresh and the latter truly exceptional), two pastas (including spaghetti with a meatball the size of a small child), two main plates (we had a remarkably good chicken parmigiana as one) and two desserts...and, as you finished each plate you were offered seconds...or thirds.
There are upcharges for shrimp dishes (well worth it) and for veal-based preparations (which are annoying); but both the food and, as is normative for any Lettuce Entertain You restaurant the service, are a cut above anything else in town.
Tampa is where the Outback and it's neapolitan-themed cousin Carrabas were born...the latter is in serious trouble because, for just a few dollars more, Maggiano's is in a class by itself.
P.S. Ask for a waiter named John (there's only one) for the kind of service you almost never see in places like Tampa - he'd be right at home in Maggiano's birthplace in River North in Chicago.
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