Before I talk about Maggiano’s, I want to share two of the places we ate in the-middle-of-nowhere Illinois a.k.a. Christopher’s hometown. 😉
We’ll start with Chenoa Family Restaurant. Chenoa was the closest town (of you know, 1800 people) to where Christopher grew up. It’s 30 minutes outside Bloomington, Illinois. So when I say “the middle of nowhere” I’m not kidding. But people who live in the countryside are extra friendly and always curious about new faces. We had great service here and the food was yummy. The bean soup wasn’t asthetically pleasing (top right picture), but it tasted good. And my burger was literally the biggest burger patty I’ve ever eaten (it was like a burger steak – crazy huge!). And their bacon is crisped perfectly. I’m particular about my bacon so that’s saying a lot, haha!
We also ate at The Green Garden in Gridley. We ate “lunch” here at 3pm after working hard at the storage unit all day so I’m pretty sure dirt would’ve tasted good at this point, but it really was all delicious! The chicken noodle soup was especially yummy! My BLT club is the exact same thing I ordered 5 years ago, the first time I ate at this restaurant. I didn’t remember it until it came out and when I saw it, I was like “wait a minute! I’ve eaten this before!” Ha!
Side note: During Thanksgiving 5 years ago, The Green Garden was actually the place where I found out that twins and triplets run in Christopher’s family. Also that he and his brother were nearly 10 pound babies. Naturally my mother-in-law waited until after we were married before delivering this news. 😉 I may have had a slight heart attack, but whatever, bring on the 10lb triplets! 😛
And then… there was Maggiano’s! This particular location is actually in St. Louis which is on the route between Memphis and Bloomington, IL. We stopped on the way to Illinois and on the way home! You might not know it from how often we are at Starbucks, but in general we are local restaurant eaters. We like to support local business plus in general, we think that food at hole-in-the-wall places just tastes better. And the service is usually better too. Maggiano’s is a chain. And yet they have my absolute favorite spaghetti and meatball (yes, just one meatball, ha) at a restaurant in the United States. That’s big talk because I have eaten a lot of spaghetti in the USA. You guys, it is that good!
Oh, and did I mention that some of their meals are “eat one today, take one home”? Um yeah. For $13 you get two FULL meals. Except that really each portion is enormous so really you are getting FOUR entire meals for $13 or $15. Can I hear winner winner spaghetti dinner? I always get the spaghetti and meatball. And I request it as my take home meal as well. Christopher is always trying something new (and I always try his and it’s delicious, but still never as good as my spaghetti) and he normally gets a different take home meal than the one he ate in the restaurant. But all their food is good so that’s totally understandable.
This was Christopher’s Rigatoni “D” that he ordered in the restaurant (he brought lasagna home). It’s rigatoni pasta, herb-roasted chicken, mushrooms and caramelized onions, tossed in a Marsala cream sauce. Um yeah. It was delicious.
And this my friends, is my Spaghetti and Meatball. Um, yes. Best thing ever. No joke, this rivals a couple of the meals we had in Italy. It is that good. I just wish their were a Maggiano’s in Memphis. The closest one is 3 hours away in Nashville (and the second closest is this location, 4 hours away in St Louis). So no surprised that we stopped on the way up there and on the way back. 😀
So, if you are lucky enough to live in a city with a Maggiano’s and you’ve never been. Please go. Do it for me. For yourself. For freedom! Okay, wait, a little carried away there for a moment. But really, it’s wonderful!