Everyone else who has reviewed Maggiano's thus far must have been blindfolded and abducted to a completely different Italian restaurant, because the food I had there was not representative of the excellent reviews I read. The value is the only reason Maggiano's gets a decent review from me. I ordered one of their Classic Pastas, which meant I got TWO pastas for the price of one (one to eat there, and one to bring home). However, two mediocre pasta dishes for $12.95 still has me wanting Tums.
I ordered the Four Cheese Ravioli. I ate almost every bite, but only because I was desperately famished. The ravioli was was passable in taste. It didn't stand out in a good way at all. Nearly every bite tasted burned, though I didn't notice very many burned spots on the pasta/cheese. A few, but nothing out of the ordinary, so why it tasted burned, I don't know. I really can't comment on the ravioli beyond that because it made little impression on me.
The fettuccine I got for my second dish wasn't any better. It was cheesy and creamy, but the broccoli taste put me off. There was no broccoli to be found in the to-go container, so God only knows. I love broccoli, but I wasn't prepared to taste it, and I don't really like it with my pasta. Aside from the broccoli taste, the fettuccine was very bland. I honestly think the fettuccine alfredo at Macaroni Grill tastes better. Oh, and the bread at Maggiano's was tasteless, so Macaroni Grill tops them on that, too.
The wine I had was good. A glass of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio is what I got, and it was fairly priced. In fact, Maggiano's has several nicely priced wines on their list, so you really can't go wrong, unless you're a certified oenie, which I'm not.
Service was lackluster. Our group had two tables reserved for 6:30, yet even though we were all there and ready by 6:30, Maggiano's was not. We finally got seated at 6:42. No, we didn't have to wait a long time, but the point of making a reservation is so you won't have to wait at all. So that made an ill impression on me.
Our waiter's name was Carlos, and while he was extremely knowledgeable and nice, he was slow. I had to be somewhere at 9pm, so when Carlos started taking dessert orders, I instead asked for my check, telling him I needed to leave. It wasn't until everyone at the table was finished with their desserts, their plates had been cleared away, and the rest of them got their checks, that I got mine. And, of course, since everyone else was then paying at the same time as I, I ended up being late to my next social appointment. It wasn't that big a deal, but I have noticed in the last couple of years that getting and paying your check at ANY Austin restaurant has become an incredibly time-consuming process, and it never ceases to irritate me.
But Maggiano's has some good points, too. The value argument I noted above brings their rating up to three stars in my book, as does the fact that they do not automatically add gratuity for parties of six or more. They put a *suggested* gratuity on your bill. Your card will be charged for the food and tax, without the gratuity, and it's your choice to add the suggested -- or any -- tip.
If someone suggests to me going here for drinks, I'll probably begrudgingly agree, but I seriously doubt I'll ever eat here again.