• On the Fork: Lunch at Maggiano's

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    It was just a little under three years ago that the local restaurant scene changed with the opening of the Springfield Town Center on the site of the former Springfield Mall. While redevelopment of the old mall may have changed the economic fortunes of Springfield, its new restaurants changed the food life of residents.

    BSTC—Before Springfield Town Center—if you wanted to dine at a family-style Italian restaurant you had to trek to Fairfax, Tysons, or other non-Springfield locations. But with the Town Center came Maggiano’s Little Italy with its Italian-American cuisine, nostalgic Little Italy décor and expansive menu.

    Recently, a friend and I decided to throw afternoon productivity to the winds (dainty portions and Maggiano’s will never appear in the same sentence) and lunch there. (While the menu is large and not what you’d call spa cuisine, it does offer the option of lighter renditions of some of its main courses. I saved five hundred calories by ordering the lighter version of chicken piccata. The prudent thing would have been to bank those calories but I couldn’t resist spending them on dessert…) And every one of those calories was worth it!

    We started with an appetizer of fried zucchini—crisp panko breading, absolutely greaseless, and served with a lemon aioli. Then we discussed the new menu addition as of March 1—weekday brunch. You can check out the full brunch menu at maggianos.com/brunch. On weekdays, there’s a limited brunch menu. We dipped crusty bread in peppery olive oil and parmesan while we mulled our many lunch options.

    The idea of brunch on a weekday was just too enticing—who wouldn’t want breakfast in the middle of the day in the middle of the week! My companion ordered eggs benedict with smoked salmon, poached eggs and hollandaise. It also came with a not-too-sweet mini orange streusel cake. I went for the aforementioned chicken piccata with capers, lemon, fettucine, spinach and roasted garlic. We both agreed—we would order these again.

    Then came dessert time. Can’t write a restaurant review without sampling dessert, right? So we tried the sampler. That included five small portions of crème brulee, tiramisu, Gigi’s butter cake with roasted grapes, apple crostata and New York-style cheesecake.

    Maggiano’s is community-oriented and if you order mocha java cake or Kahlua and rum mousse between now and June 28, the restaurant will donate $1 from each order to the Make A Wish Foundation.

    Linda Waller, a longtime resident of Springfield, enjoys dining in her community and believes the experience is just as important as the food.
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