Because we were going to be in the Warwick, RI, area, we decided to hit a delicious place that we had only visited once, but vowed to return to - Romano's Macaroni Grill.
When we first heard of the Macaroni Grill, we did not realize that it was a chain since there are none in our immediate area. However, with all the positive feedback it received on the Internet, Mom and I just had to try it. We found everything delicious on our first visit, and we hoped that this visit would be just as good. I pulled up to the Bald Hill Road location and parked my Kia at around 2:50 p.m. There weren't a lot of cars in the parking lot, but there was one thing in the parking lot that we could have done without - a burping Macaroni Grill employee. What a pig!
As we stepped inside, we quickly took a gaze around the restaurant. It is beautifully decorated with a heavy emphasis on Italian decor. A tall gentleman host politely greeted us and took us to a booth at the back of the restaurant and right in front of a large wall of bottles containing Romano's signature wine. The booth was extremely comfortable and was raised off of the dining room floor, so Mom warned me to "be careful" when I stood back up as she knows how clumsy I am. Being sprawled across the dining room was not how I wanted to spend my Saturday.
What I like about this place is that they use a large sheet of white butcher paper as their tablecloths for the boothed tables (there is a regular white tablecloth on the regular tables with a piece of butcher paper on top). On top of the paper were three crayons, and when our waitress, Marissa, came to our table, she wrote her name on the sheet for us to remember. Marissa brought over a loaf of Italian bread which was flavored with rosemary and which we were able to dip in a concoction that Marissa made for us - Italian oil from a large bottle that was on our table, and ground pepper. She gave us two large, thick menus and took our drink order. Although Mom and I ordered two Diet Pepsis, we were sad to see that they offered Italian cream sodas, which we definitely would have gotten if we hadn't already ordered the Pepsi.
They have quite an extensive menu, but Mom and I already knew what we wanted as we had already peeked at the online menu (which also lists the prices). When Marissa came back, she took our order. I ordered the Pesto Chicken Pizza ($9.79), which is grilled chicken, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses baked with garlic-olive oil. This is my second time ordering this pizza because the first time I had it, it blew me away. Mom ordered the Twice Baked Lasagna with Meatballs ($11.49), which is six layers of tender pasta stuffed with seasoned meatballs, three cheeses, and Bolognese sauce, then baked in the brick oven until bubbling. After Marissa left, Mom and I scoped out the rest of the dining room.
It really is one of the prettiest dining rooms I've ever seen for a chain restaurant. Covered with dark wood and subdued (and stringed) lighting, the walls of wine adds both design and substance to the interior. It is a rather large dining room with a couple of different seating sections, one being near a huge fireplace. There is also a small bar and, if seated in the middle of the restaurant, you are able to see right into the kitchen. Oh, and remember that burping employee? He was a chef. Splendid!
The appetizers (or "antipasti") here run from a Tomato Bruschetta for $5.79 which is toasted bread topped with extra virgin olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and basil, to the Romano's Sampler ($9.99) which includes the Tomato Bruschetta, Mozzarella Fritta, and Calamari and served with Romano's zesty pizzaiola sauce. They also have a large selection of vino (wine), bevande (drinks), brick oven pizzas, insalata (salad), signature soups, pasta di prima, over-stuffed pasta, Amore De La Grill (grill items), classico Italian (basic Italian foods), desserts, and a kids' menu. Although we were not to get dessert on this occasion, we did have the Lemon Passion ($5.29) on our first visit, and it was to die for. The cool citrus cake was soaked in a sweet cream, topped with lemon mousse, and finished off with fresh Italian whipped cream and caramel. Simply delicioso! Also on visit number one, Mom ordered the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce ($9.29) and she thought it was fantastic.
It did not take long for our food to arrive, and when it did, both plates were steaming hot. Mom's large lasagna arrived in a bowl, and was surrounded by several mini meatballs. She said that she thought it was one of the best pieces of lasagna she'd ever had, and she was glad that it was hot throughout the whole thing - which she loves. Sometimes a big hunk of pasta can get a little cool inside, but not this one. They also had the right balance of all the ingredients, and a complete blend is sometimes not always achieved throughout the entire piece. However, this one was perfect.
I actually almost forgot to take a picture of the food because I began eating about two seconds after the plate was set down on the table. My pizza was a delight, but missing the ricotta cheese! I even began to doubt that ricotta had existed on my first pizza, but when I reread the menu, I realized that yes, ricotta was a main ingredient. Although the pizza was not as spectacular as I remember (due to the missing ricotta), it was heavenly and I had to pace myself by eating crust so that the entire pizza didn't disappear in a matter of minutes. I just love pesto sauce. It really gives the cheese and tomatoes an extra kick of flavor.
Marissa came back to take our plates away, and soon returned with the bill:
2 sodas - $4.38
L-MtballLaz - 11.49
Pizza chick pest - 9.79
Subtotal - $25.66
Sales tax - 1.80
Local tax - .26
TOTAL = $27.72
We left $33 which included a 20% tip for Marissa. Both Mom and I decided to visit the ladies' room, which we hoped was still pumping the sounds of an Italian language tape like it was the last time, and we were in luck! While we were in there, I learned how to say "how much" (quanto) and "where is the bank" (dove è la banca) in Italian. What a fun idea! I can't wait to visit Romano's again. I already set my sights on a nice bowl of mushroom ravioli. Bellissimo!