The Maggiano Diet

I try my best to seek out the places that slip under the radar, the mom ‘n pops, the holes in the wall. You’re more apt to see me tracking down zacahuil than pecan crusted mango infused mahi mahi. So I feel a little guilty when I write about a place that’s one of many in a chain. In the case of Maggiano’s on Post Oak Boulevard, well, there are 43 around the country with the original one located in the Windy City. But I do like this place for the food and also for aesthetic reasons.

Such as the weathered revolving door at the entrance, the tiled 40’s style bathroom, the dark brown wood interior, the checkered tablecloths and the vintage Italian American music through the speaker system. It’s a place that I feel very good in, a place where I can settle in at the bar with an espresso, a Cinzano and one of Lawrence Block’s series on hit-man John Keller. And the food is very good. Maggiano’s claims “from scratch” preparation on its Web site and, from the dishes that I’ve sampled, I think it’s the truth.

So how can I justify my guilty pleasure? I came up with the idea for the Maggiano Diet when I noticed the place offers a different soup every weekday and minestrone daily. A bowl of soup (around $6 with tax and tip) here is substantial. And you can enjoy a nice entrée salad at lunchtime. All it takes is one hour minimum of aerobic activity every day, an hour of weight lifting every other day, absolutely no pasta entrees and only one slice of bread (it's brought in from the Tribeca Bakery in Chicago).

So, without further ado, here’s the Maggiano Diet:

Monday: Chopped Salad with Chicken for lunch. Lucio’s Meatball and Vegetable soup for dinner.

Tuesday: Roasted Chicken and Arugula salad for lunch. Roasted Mushroom soup for dinner.

Wednesday: Steak and Gorgonzola salad for lunch. Tuscan Orzo and Spinach soup for dinner.

Thursday: Chopped Salad with Chicken for lunch. Creamy Chicken and Potato soup for dinner.

Friday: Roasted Chicken and Arugula salad for lunch. New England Clam Chowder for dinner.

-- Jay Francis

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