This post was written in partnership with Maggiano’s Little Italy®. Keep reading to learn more about how Maggiano’s wants to celebrate love and how you can enter to win a $5000 credit towards a banquet event at Maggiano’s. While I was compensated for this post, all opinions and content (as always) are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support Off the Eaten Path.
The year: 2003. Or maybe 2004? Did this happen to anyone else once you turned 30 that prior years all seem to blend together? Okay, the more I think about it, it was 2004. So imagine me, in 2004 (I was pretty similar to how I am now but I was seventeen so I was a whole lot lankier and way more awkward). I’m sure you’ve got a good visual going on right now.
The place: my hometown. I grew up in a suburb of DC, so my adolescence reflected a healthy blend of small town charm with big city access. My friends and I liked to do things like go to Friday night football games and wander the mall. I remember the first time my mom let me ride the Metro into DC and I was so pumped. I felt really grown up. If we’re going to get specific about the place in this particular story, it was my semi-regular stomping grounds: the mall.
The occasion: Almost fifteen years later, I honestly can’t remember. I do remember it was our first fancy date night (as opposed to going out for burgers and ice cream or watching his band play in his parents’ basement) but I can’t remember if we were celebrating something important or we went just because. Maybe it was my birthday? I do think that we drove ourselves, but this story would only be enhanced if I told you my mom had to drop us off at the mall.
There I sat across the candlelit table at Maggiano’s. On a real date. At a real restaurant. I remember in the moment as we shared our mozzarella marinara (of course I remember exactly what we ate) that this had to be the pinnacle of love.
(Aw, sweet seventeen-year-old Chrissie, we have all the crying laughing emojis for you right now with your take on young love).
I think he picked Maggiano’s for a few reasons. First, it was one of the nicest restaurants in town. Second, the way to a girl’s heart (or at least mine) is through her stomach (so a bowl of fettucini alfredo should definitely do the trick).
And third, Maggiano’s is the kind of place that exudes the right combination of comfort and sophistication (okay I’m not even sure if a high school boy knows the word exude but I’m sure that’s what he was thinking, a place that was nice but not stuffy). Maggiano’s has a friendly atmosphere that makes you feel that there’s always room for you at the family table.
Maggiano’s warm, welcoming ambiance is timeless. Walk into any Maggiano’s and you’ll see all sorts of people coming together over food: a couple in the corner on a date, an extended family passing plates of pasta, a group of friends laughing over glasses of wine. So when AJ and I recently dined at the Maggiano’s in SouthPark, we were greeted with the familiar smell of classic, home-style Italian food (one of my favorite smells!) but also with the nostalgic feeling of family.
Our waitress, Chantay was wonderful; when I told her I needed to take some photos of the food, she told me she was a model (thus, making me trust her creative eye) and would make sure to recommend food that was not only delicious but had a lot of different colors that would pop in my photos. Truly a woman after my own heart.
Besides making excellent food recommendations, Chantay was just super friendly and attentive in the absolute right way you want a waitress to be (you know chatty but not too hovery, yes I know hovery is not a word but we all know we’ve had that server that we feel like is breathing down our neck). She was just engaging and made me feel really comfortable.
We started with tomato caprese and then, of course, had to order fettucini alfredo (I mean how could we not) and chicken parmesean (AJ’s favorite Italian dish of all time) and also opted for Chantay’s recommendation, the Salmon Oscar, served with jumbo lump crab, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and garlic cream sauce.
Since I’ve already spoke in emojis once, the Salmon Oscar deserves a healthy combination of heart eye emojis and praise hands.
We capped off everything with Lemon Marscapone Cake (another layered delight that is made daily in house and just debuted at the Maggiano’s in Charlotte.
For more than 25 years, Maggiano’s has been home to everything from casual family dinners to more formal special occasions in their banquet spaces (and I’m sure quite a few other high schoolers’ fancy first date nights) and now Maggiano’s wants to celebrate their diners and their loved ones. Whether you have a spouse, a parent, grandparent or other family member, a friend, a love interest that you want to take to the next level (and get out of the ice cream and band practice in his mom’s basement phase) or even yourself, Maggiano’s wants to celebrate love by hosting a special event in that person’s honor! Now through March 9, you can nominate someone in your life that deserves a celebration and enter to win $5000 credit to a banquet event at Maggiano’s. You should totally enter because I still believe, almost fifteen years later, one of the best ways to celebrate love is over a plate of fettucini alfredo.