Check out the lasted foodie adventure from Yvette Schmitter … A little taste of Italy.
It’s a Monday night and I find myself in Nassau County, New York. Having been invited to a tasting event at Maggiano’s Little Italy for the Make A Wish Foundation – I was not sure what to expect. My standards for Italian food are quite high, partly because I am a foodie and the other part because I’ve honed my taste buds during my yearly trek to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I had some apprehension about the evening because if the food isn’t good it was going to make for a long and hungry night.
Prepare to be transported to the 1930s when you enter Maggiano’s Little Italy. The classic color scheme of deep browns and beige coupled with crystal chandeliers hanging throughout make the relatively large restaurant a cozy and inviting space. The sounds of Frank Sinatra piped through the speakers cuddle your ears as you enter the building located at 600 Garden City Plaza, Garden City, NY 11530.
The hostesses greet me with warm smiles and direct me to the dining area where we are scheduled to taste the “Eat A Dish For Make A Wish” menu. The menu consists of 2 appetizers (Strawberry Bruschetta, Asiago Crusted Shrimp), 2 entrees (Filet and Asparagus Risotto and Stuffed Chicken Florentine Risotto) and a dessert (Fresh Berry Tiramisu). One dollar from every meal benefits Make A Wish Foundation. I later found out that Maggiano’s Little Italy has raised $6 million dollars for Make A Wish since 2004. Wow!
The first appetizer served was the Strawberry Bruschetta. It had the perfect amount of mascarpone, ricotta cream and strawberry chutney, so that the prosciutto and fresh basil were still able to shine through. It was the sublime bite of salty sweet. Just delicious. The second dish served was Asiago Crusted Shrimp served with a tomato lemon aioli. Expertly coated, not buried in breading, one could still taste the sharpness of the Asiago cheese. And the tomato and lemon zest in the aioli rounded out the bite from the cheese. Very nicely done.
The first entree served was the Filet and Asparagus Risotto. To be honest I was skeptical and a bit nervous when I saw this on the menu because I’ve had some of the best risotto of my life while in Italy. The kind that has been expertly stirred and stirred and stirred until you get this creamy concoction of pure deliciousness that makes you want to pick up the plate with both hands and lick it clean. But, I was pleasantly surprised. It was good. The filet was cooked medium rare. The stock used for this risotto was a veal stock and it was hearty as well as creamy. The risotto had shiitake mushrooms mixed in as well. Not bad. The second dish, Stuffed Chicken Florentine, was just as surprisingly good. The chicken and the stuffing were both moist. Bathed in a chicken stock the risotto was ultra creamy and had the right amount of crunch to the bite. Not bad, not bad at all.
For dessert, the menu boasts of a Berry Tiramisu which looked way too beautiful to eat. Sometimes tiramisu can be a sweet bite but this was spot on. The berries’ (strawberry, blueberry and blackberries) inherent sweetness were allowed to shine. The cream was light and airy – I could envision it being whipped to perfection back in the kitchen. The tiramisu was the ideal way to end the tasting.
So, would I recommend going to Maggiano’s Little Italy? Yes, I would. It’s perfect for large groups, date night or an evening out with the girls. From the service to the food you will feel like you are transported back to an Italian home where good food, community, big family style portions and hospitality are the driving force. Here is a link to their dinner menu /website.