Do you ever just want to fly with Frank to some exotic moon and slurp noodles over a checkered tablecloth?
Italian food is one of my all-time favorite parts of existence.
Sometimes I feel Sinatra and Dean Martin inviting me to dream about Napoli. I visited once and fell in love with the statues, the coliseums, the duomos, the frescos and the buzzing people with their hurried pace. Meals involved a meat dish, a pasta course, espresso and possibly Nutella. The cars zipped by and seemed to be all shapes and sizes with no uniform model. Bright colors like yellow and green were splashed on the cars, the houses, the little bridges. Oll brick walls crumbled across the countryside. Verona was my favorite place. It was quiet and peaceful there.
Here in the states, I can transport myself with my favorite flavors, like basil, tomato and garlic. Give me ziti covered in cheese or tortellini decorated with pesto and you can nearly satisfy that desire to fly 12 hours overseas.
Where is good Italian?
Early on in Jax, I ventured to ask some friends, “Where is good Italian?” They responded with “Maggiano’s.” The name had an intriguing sound and mysterious air. I made a mental note to go.
One day, while driving through Towncenter, the shopping plaza extraordinaire, loved by Jascksovillonians everywhere, I spotted this venue. It looked quite grand amidst the ritzy stores and fine landscaping. Tiffany’s was nearby, so I could feign to be Audrey and stare at a diamond studded window reflection. I would go sometime.
I met my friend for a 7pm dinner by the pond in front of Maggiano’s and we headed in. The decor did not disappoint. It was an atmosphere that was mixture of fine dining with the nostalgia of a warm family kitchen. Black and white pictures hanging on the wall gave the place an old-timey feel. Bottles of wine were shelved here and there, and inviting booths provided small communal spaces. The servers were friendly and even brought us some fried zucchini to sample since it was our first time there.
Wine and Piccata time
I had the Rosso house wine. It was a simple, medium-bodied table wine with just a hint of sweetness. We tried some warm bread and olive oil. I did miss the spices that some places throw in their oil. At first glimpse I only read the steak side of the menu and was disappointed that there were so few pasta dishes. But then I turned it over to reveal enough choices to stump me over what to order.
I chose chicken piccata. It’s one of my recent fave dishes. There’s nothing quite similar to the flavor and it takes some work, so I figured I’d try it here. I did make one amendment. I asked for a side of red sauce to go with the noodles. I am obsessed with marinara sauce. On pizza, spaghetti and all things Italian, I want piles and piles of dripping tomato. The sauce was nice and tasty! The noodles were very al dente though. I prefer how I make them at home. The chicken was awesome, though still not as good as my old roomie’s. Having a friend or family member that cooks well really spoils.
My friend ordered a dish that looked quite tasty and sounded intriguing. He got the Pesto Perlini Mozzerella, complete with chicken ricotta meatballs. I will definitely try that next time I go.
I very much enjoyed dining here. I feel like Jacksonville still might have some other marinaras and surprises for me to explore.