Had a post-Christmas dinner on Sun. at 6pm with my in laws at Maggiano's on Santana Row in San Jose. Group of 11 of us including 3 young niece and nephews in tow. The place was bustling w/ holiday cheer and hungry walk-ins who were informed of a 2-hr. wait--yikes! Good thing MIL made reservations.
We were immediately seated at a long table in the middle of the room once our entire party arrived. Atmos. was very comfortable and decor was a generic trattoria-style, which looked quite nice w/ holiday decorations and dim lighting. Raised booths would have been my preferred seat in the house if we had been a smaller group.
Our waiter was young and boyish looking, but exuded a warm professionalism that clearly told us that he wasn't just hired for the holiday peak. One particular nephew is especially extroverted which might throw any server off kilter; however, our waiter handled him beautifully. Seeing all the other families w/ kids in the room, this was clearly a great place to take the little ones.
Waiter tried to sell us on the family-style dinner. Even though we always eat in a family-style manner, we requested to order a la carte to afford us more options, and he obliged readily. What we ordered to my recollection:
Starters: stuffed mushrooms; fried calamari; bruschetta
Salads: house salad; spinach salad w/ caramelized onions, peppers, and gorgonzola
Entrees: chicken saltimbocca w/ prosciutto and provolone; gnocchi w/ tomato vodka sauce; mushroom veal ravioli; spaghetti w/ marinara and sausage; farfalle w/ chicken and asparagus; linguine w/ chicken and pesto; veal scallopine
Wine: 2000 Tuscan red (sorry, don't recall name)
Overall, the food was surprisingly well-prepared and generally flavorful for a large, busy, chain restaurant. Most pastas were actually al dente and ingredients were fresh; however, not top-notch organic stuff that would bring it to the next wow-level (but I wasn't expecting that given low prices). Def. on a higher tier than Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo IMO.
Prices were very reasonable (entrees ranged from $10-20) given large portion sizes, and a number of dishes offered a half-order option. Half-orders are still HUGE here, so come hungry and be prepared to have leftovers for lunch the next day. We left w/ 8 packed cartons, which relieved MIL from cooking lunch the next day.
Stand-out dishes were fried calamari and mushroom veal ravioli (voted best entree by adults!). Runners-up were stuffed mushrooms and gnocchi. The wine was actually quite robust and complex for being a cheap $30 and complemented the food nicely. Service was quite good and pacing of meal was not at all rushed even though quick turnover would clearly benefit the restaurant.
Maggiano's is def. a good place if you're wanting good value for a large group in a comfy atmos. that can please both adults and little ones. Just make reservations so you don't have to endure that wait. If I were to return, I would probably just go for the appetizers and a bottle of red.