July 21, 2010
When the Babes travel to any locale outside of Kailua-Kona, they caravan mostly to save on gas cost and vehicular wear and tear, plus apportion driving duties. This method of sharing also enables them to catch up on each other’s personal occurrences since the last gathering. By the time they reach their destination, all important trivia has been dispensed with, leaving mealtime open for the intricacies of menu and food discourse – which is what, afterall, this blog is all about.
The Caesar Salad ($3.99) was described as decent sized for a side order with crispy romaine, crunchy homemade croutons and the expected fresh-grated cheese. The surprise was that the dressing appeared to be just made, and not just advertised as “just made”. Does that sound like double talk? The Babes du jour had varied comments about the portion of dressing served on the salad – from “just enough” to “not enough“.
Tina’s lunch choice consisted of the Chicken Caesar Salad ($12.99) and her remarks about the dressing were that although it was very creamy and not too tangy – the perfect edge of sharpness – there was too much of it. Perhaps a heavy-handed pour, or else someone bumped into the Pantry Cook as he/she ladled it on! She was pleased with the generous helping of parmesan and “excellent toasted croutons to boot“, however the chicken fell short of Tina’s expectations – “a bit dry“.
Holy Lolita! I didn’t hear about any anchovies – which in my viewpoint, are required reading in any Caesar Salad. Personally, I miss the guy that stood at the side of the table working like a hounddog while mashing the garlic cloves and anchovies with a fork into the large wooden salad bowl, then cracking the shell on a newly warmed coddled egg in a showy manner before furiously stirring in EVOO (oops – no Rachel Ray in those days). Caesars were an artform that I (and many others, apparently) still long for today.
Back at the Mac Grill, and continuing on with Mei and Carol’s lunch à deux: Chicken Scaloppine ($17.99). Sauteed chicken tenders with mushrooms, artichokes, capers and smoked prosciutto seated in a lemon butter sauce, appropriately accompanied by a mound of steaming Capellini pasta. Some of the comments were “divine sauce was rich and creamy…“, followed by “…I could taste every nuance in this sauce…the smoked prosciutto was the star…“.
A comment that caught my attention, “…as always, they know how to cook pasta here - al dente – as it should be...”.
Amen to that! In my (limited) experience, Capellini or Angelhair pasta is the most difficult of all to cook due to the fine strands of delicate pasta that could very easily turn to mush by a simple act of answering a phonecall or turning the other way to catch something on TV and missing that critical moment when pasta NEEDS to depart it’s rolling boil of captivity.
Of course, the savvy waitress, who probably hovered closeby, provided a dusting of fresh-grated parmesan cheese to complete the dish.
El pollo must have been high on the forefront that day as Cindy and Terri eagerly ordered Chicken Parmigiana ($17.99) – “hand breaded chicken breast, pan seared and baked with imported Italian tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and oven-roasted tomatoes”, served, of course, with al dente capellini pasta.
Cindy noted that the panko-crusted chicken was moist, and the flavor heightened by fresh basil and the mozzarella. Joined in marriage to La Famiglia Italiano, (no offense everyone – my Italian phrasing is garnered from various operas, and Tony Soprano – most of which is unprintable), Cindy thought the sauce was tasty, however she was (understandably) partial to homemade versions from her own cucina. The service was also just “OK“ , however was redeemed once again, by – who else - the ever capable cheese grating waitress - MAMA MIA!!
A delightful observation that Tina made was worth repeating. “The indoor/outdoor bar was calling my name! A very relaxing atmosphere for drinks and Italian pupu’s on any given evening“. Yes, I could definitely meet you there for a bottle of Sassicaia and two loaves of Tuscan Bread! Make sure someone comes along to drive us back to Kona!
Did I mention that the background music played just below conversation level (this is good) at Romano’s Macaroni Grill is Italian arias? Very appropriate to help set the palate. So many restaurants these days leave the music choices to young servers who probably hook their Ipod up to the speakers and let it rip at maximum decibels while you try to enjoy a quiet and romantic dinner with that special person in your life. One more thought – Mac Grill serves breakfast daily from 8AM to 11AM. And as Tina remarked, “…I can’t wait to try the Italian frittata’s”!