Well, color me surprised. I took my team out for our Holiday lunch & gift exchange today. In choosing the restaurant for this group of 12, I had to take into consideration that I'm the only true Hound among them, and some of them are decidedly un-adventurous. When I fed them Zankou chicken once, I almost had a mutiny. SO I was looking for a place they'd find comfortable/non-threatening, that would be easy on my wallet. Maggiano's Little Italy at South Coast Plaza filled the bill -- and more!
I decided to go for the family style lunch. I was asked to choose from a lengthy list two salads, two pastas, two main courses and two desserts. I chose:
-- Maggiano's salad (sweetish dressing, crisp lettuce, mild bleu cheese, red onion -- tasty) and Caesar salad (surprisingly servicable -- lots of garlic and, predictably, no anchovy to speak of, but crisp and nice).
-- Farfalle with chicken, greens and asparagus in a brothy sort of sauce (nice) and ravioli filled with veal served in a creamy sauce with sun-dried tomatoes (the hit of the day with everyone)
-- Salmon (surprisingly good and, also surprisingly, not over-cooked, served with steamed spinach that could have been less-done) and chicken with rosemary (skin not crisp, but over-all tasty).
-- Nonna's cake (chocolate cake and mousse-like filling -- great chocolate flavor) and profiteroles (oddly-named since this was very nice quality vanilla-bean ice cream with hot fudge sauce, but nary a chou-paste puff in sight).
The food was served family-style. At each course the waiter told us to let her know if we needed additional portions of any dish.The portions were actually just about right -- we left very little behind, and didn't need more of anything.
Total bill was $14.95 per person plus drinks, tax and tip. OH, and their coffee was great! Additional dishes, including vegetables and appetizers were available at an additional cost.
I really went into this event regarding this as a chore, but the atmosphere was nice, the service was obliging, my on-line order went without a hitch, the price was right and everyone had fun. They do a similar meal at dinner, but I believe the price is higher. I would DEFINITELY recommend reservations, especially for a group. We arrived at 11:30 and they were already over half full. When we left about 2:00, they were wall-to-wall people waiting for tables.
I would definitely return for a similar function.