Restaurants & Reservations: Dining in Cincinnati

What happens when a rabbi and a lawyer walk into a bar? We'll let you know in a few years, but until then we'll do our best to share with you our favorite (and not-so-favorite) Cincinnati restaurants and hope you'll share some with us, too!

Welcome to Maggiano's! Have dinner tonight, with a bonus lunch for tomorrow!

Maggiano's Little Italy7875 Montgomery Road • Cincinnati, OH 45236 • (513) 794-0670

His Take

When I'm hungry and in the mood for Italian, Maggiano's is always one of the first places that comes to mind. Their food is delicious; their portions are generous to say the least; and the location is convenient for most people with plenty of parking even valet).

Every dish that I've had at Maggiano's has been great. While I try not to order something that will require rolling me home, I usually lose that motivation as soon as I see the menu and start thinking with my stomach. Their menu has an excellent variety of options: They have pasta with at least half-a-dozen different sauces (Meat Sauce, Marinara, Red/White Clam, Alfredo, Arrabbiata, etc.); a variety of chicken dishes (parm, saltimbocca, Marsala, etc.); and plenty of baked dishes (lasagna, manicotti, etc.) in addition to other foods. With so many options, I'm willing to bet you could pretty much design your dish from scratch using ingredients found anywhere on the menu and they would be happy to oblige (well maybe not "happy" if I were the chef making 200 different meals at the same time!).

That said, I've always wondered why they didn't make a custom-pasta option available on the menu, particularly for vegetarians. It would be a nice improvement to see the sauces or at least each dish labeled as to whether it's vegetarian.

And then there is dessert. Oh yes, save room, because you won't see desserts this large at too many other places. I'm a big fan of their chocolate cake and tiramisu, but I doubt you'll go wrong with any of them.

Maggiano's caters well to parties of all sizes. I've been there on dates, with small groups, and groups of more than 20 for lunch and dinner, and the service is always terrific. The serving and hosting staff are always very friendly and attentive.

So if you're craving Italian and leftovers, Maggiano's should be high on your list!

Maggiano's Little Italy on Urbanspoon
Her Take

I always look forward to dinner at Maggiano’s. Wherever I am, it is a predictably good, rich meal with enough to take home and eat as another meal tomorrow. I tend to forget, though, that once I sit down and open the menu, I am always just a little disappointed.

Maggiano’s is a big, family-style Italian chain. Their food is very good, but what I forget is that it is uncreative, and the menu makes it difficult to eat either a vegetarian meal or a healthful meal, let alone a combination of the two. I have tried many different things on their menu. The mushroom appetizer is great. The Caesar salad is several sizes bigger than you expect (and with more dressing than I could eat in a week). For a main course, I tend to have some form of pasta. Most recently, it was the Rigatoni D, pasta with mushrooms and onions in a marsala cream sauce (and mine: minus the chicken). It was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed dipping the bread into my sauce as well. I definitely felt that cream sauce, and I had enough to bring home for lunch the next day! Not that it stopped me from ordering dessert… Three of us split one slice of Chocolate Zuccotto Cake, which was more than enough for each of us. I love this cake, and it’s even better when there are enough of us around the table with forks that I can enjoy the cake without being overwhelmed by the slice the size of my head.

Maggiano’s is also wonderful about catering to allergies. A close friend of mine is allergic to about every third food item. When she mentions these allergies to our waitress, someone from the kitchen is always sent to our table. This chef (or chef-representative, we’re still debating that one) talks to her about her meal choice and ensures that there are no ingredients in it that she cannot eat. We have no idea how much time he actually spends in the kitchen between running around to all of the tables with food allergies, but it is apparently enough: it makes Maggiano’s a restaurant that this friend is highly comfortable eating at, and so far, so good!

Maggiano’s also has a family style menu, where there are even larger portions meant to be shared with a large group. One word of advice: if going with a large group—or just a date—make reservations! The wait on a Saturday night can be two hours or more. It helps that it’s attached to Kenwood Mall, giving you something to do while you wait for a table, but shopping on an empty stomach can get ugly. It is a good place for groups or for couples—last time I was there, we rolled our eyes at several couples getting awfully cozy in their booths. There is better Italian food out there, but Maggiano’s is consistent and convenient, which makes it an obvious choice for a predictable dinner out.

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