The Best & Worst Menu Items at Maggiano's
Maggiano's Little Italy got its start in the heart of downtown Chicago, but it's now serving up classic Italian dishes across 24 states and Washington, D.C. With an array of appetizers, soups, pasta, desserts, and more, it's easy to see why this has become a family favorite. We spoke to a registered dietitian to find out exactly what on each section of the Maggiano's menu are the best options and what are the worst. Kelli McGrane MS, RD for Lost It!, breaks it all down.
Best: Tomato, Balsamic & Garlic Bruschetta
"Your best bet is getting one or two pieces of the Tomato, Balsamic, and Garlic Bruschetta, as it's low in saturated fat and sodium with just 80 calories per piece," says McGrane. By sticking to a few pieces you'll save some carbs for the main course.
Worst: Mozzarella Marinara
Steer clear of this starter, which has almost 19 times the number of calories as the Tomato, Balsamic & Garlic Bruschetta. "The second highest calorie appetizer option, at 1,480 calories, is the Mozzarella Marinara, which is the highest in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol," says McGrane. "It even has twice the amount of saturated fat and sodium as Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion."
Salads & Soups
Best: Cup of Manhattan Clam Chowder
Choosing a cup of the Manhattan Clam Chowder on the Maggiano's menu is the best of the soups and salads with a small amount of fat and sugars. Clams are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which support the heart and lungs. "Plus, in addition to the protein from the clams, the soup also has tomatoes, celery, and potatoes to help add extra nutrition and filling-power," says McGrane.
Worst: Side Chopped Salad
It's hard to think ordering a salad can be a bad choice, but you're better off skipping this one. "Steer clear of the side Chopped Salad, which has 480 calories (as much as an entree), and twice as much saturated fat as a McDonald's hamburger," McGrane says. "Plus with 870 mg of sodium, you'll be at nearly 40 percent of your daily sodium needs before you even get to your main dish."
Best: Spaghetti with Marinara
Although the Spaghetti with Marinara is fewer calories, McGrane would consider this category a tie with the Spaghetti with Meat Sauce on Maggiano's menu. "While the marinara option is slightly lower in calories and fat, the meat sauce will give you an extra 14 grams of filling protein," says McGrane. The marinara is also vegetarian and has less sodium, although it is still enough to fill your quota for the day.
Worst: Braised Beef al Forno
We have another tie! "It's a close call between the Braised Beef al Forno with 1,760 calories and the Famous Rigatoni 'D' at 1,610 calories," says McGrane. "Both have nearly a days-worth of calories and more than your daily sodium needs—and as many carbs as three bagels."
Chicken/Seafood/Steak & Veal
Best: Lighter Take Shrimp Fra Diavolo
"The Lighter Take Shrimp Fra Diavolo has a reasonable 370 calories and three and a half grams of saturated fat," says McGrane says. Even with 30 grams of lean protein, though, this option comes with a downside. "However, with almost 2,000 mg of sodium, you'll want to go easy on the salt the rest of the day."
Worst: Braised Beef Contadina
Steer clear of this entrée, as it hits almost 2,000 calories—enough for a whole day of eating. "It also has almost twice your daily sodium needs, two grams of trans fats, and 50 grams of saturated fat—the same as four Whoppers from Burger King," says McGrane.
Best: Fresh Grilled Asparagus
Add some green to your plate with this side, as it's low in calories, fat, and carbs and can help keep bones strong. "Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K," says McGrane, "which is essential for blood clotting and bone health."
Worst: Garlic Mashed Potatoes
"A side of Garlic Mashed Potatoes provides over 500 calories, the same as an entree, and almost half your daily sodium needs," says McGrane. "It also has nearly as much saturated fat as KFC's Chicken Pot Pie." So save the mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.
Best: Half of the Chicken Parm
It's hard to choose the best of the sandwich options, according to McGrane. "If you have to choose," she says, "go with a half order of the Chicken Parm, as it's the lowest in calories, sodium, and saturated fat."
Worst: Full Meatball Sandwich
Order the full Meatball sub and it's like you're eating nearly 20 pieces of Tomato, Balsamic & Garlic Bruschetta. "It's also high in carbs, about the same as two and a half bagels," says McGrane says, "and has as much saturated fat as three and a half orders of Taco Bell's XXL Grilled Stuft Beef Burrito."
Best: Mini Crème Brulee
Not counting the desserts on the kid's Maggiano's menu, the best pick is the Mini Crème Brulee since it has the lowest amount of calories and sugar, according to McGrane. Split this one and you reduce the calories and fat even more.
Worst: Chocolate Zuccotto Cake
For McGrane, this one is a no-brainer, even though it is a Maggiano's menu classic plucked from Tuscany. "There's no competition, the Chocolate Zuccotto Cake is the worst dessert option on the menu with as many calories as most of us eat in a day and more saturated fat than an order of the Rigatoni," she says. "But what's even more shocking is its 120 grams of sugar—the same as 11 glazed donuts."