Escape to the Italian Happy Hour: Maggiano’s

The day I frequented this Happy Hour was on a Friday and I really needed to end the long week with something new. This was actually the very first time I had visited this restaurant and its Happy Hour, so my excitement could not be contained.


Restaurant Front


Maggiano’s Little Italy is right next to South Coast Plaza and the exterior of this restaurant definitely states that it is in the right area. I do know Maggiano’s is technically a chain, but it is definitely more of a higher up chain. I just can’t get over the beautiful water fountain that poses for all that pass to gaze at.


Front Dining Area


As you cross through the door and look to the right you can see the front of the dining area. It clearly shouts out that it is an old school Italian restaurant from New York. One can spot the checkered red and white table cloth underneath the pristine white one. Of course, you have the brick wall that looms high to the ceiling. Also, the white tile that scours throughout the restaurant.


The bar


As usual, I sat right up at the bar to see what this old school Italian looking restaurant had to offer. You can’t really tell from the photo since it has been slightly enhanced, but it was kind of dark in the bar area. I had wished the lighting was a little better, so it didn’t give off an eerie feeling.


Happy Hour Menu


Another Happy Hour where nothing is more than $10 because the price is always one of the game-changing factors. As you can see the only food items available are flatbreads, so if you are reading this I hope you enjoy a fabulous flatbread. They are only $4, which I think is one of the best food deals that I’ve seen on our Happy Hour Adventures thus far. You’re probably thinking that this is going to be some minuscule flatbread that comes out to the table, well keep reading and you shall find out.


Bread with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar


You know how much I love it when a restaurant gives out a free item before the meal! This is the first time that I have received some bread on our adventures, which is always exciting. The bread itself came out nice and warm as if it was pulled straight from the oven and brought to me immediately. The bread did taste a little floury to me though, but just on the outer crust. Everything on the inside was perfect. I am someone that loves dipping my bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you have not tried this amazing combo, then I urge you to go try it at your earliest convenience. One thing I wish they did to enhance the dip was to maybe add some Italian seasonings, pepper, or some garlic. It would have added a little more dimension to it, but hey I guess I’m taking too much time critiquing the free food.


Pomegranate Martini


After looking back at the menu I realized that I ended up ordering the one drink with the most calories. But it’s Friday, the start of the weekend, so that means calories don’t count. I ordered the Pomegranate Martini and this was the perfect drink to kick start off the relaxing weekend. You can see the little bit of rosemary floating within the drink. I feel like it didn’t add too much flavor to the drink itself, it was more there to add a little extra color. I am a sucker though for some fragrant smelling rosemary. 


Different lighting


After taking that first sip I could definitely taste the pomegranate coming through. I took a glance at the menu to see the ingredients and I honestly couldn’t believe it! So I asked Bridgette, the bartender, to see if they switched up the ingredients at all during Happy Hour and she said no. It had Absolut Raspberri, Cointreau, pomegranate, and cranberry. If you remember my post from Andrea you’ll remember how much Cointreau usually is. Plus, Absolut is a pretty good vodka, although not as good as Grey Goose. Bridgette told me she is definitely a fan of martinis because one can taste more of the flavors of the booze itself.


Chicken and Roasted Peppers Flatbread


I asked Bridgette what her favorite flatbread was between the Italian Sausage and the Chicken with Roasted peppers and she said the chicken one. I say she knows her stuff because this flatbread was full of flavors. Just the presentation itself with it being placed on a wooden pizza board. Along with the different alternating colors of the peppers, green onions, and red onions. The perfect sized chunks of chicken with the balsamic glaze making its waves across the entirety of the flatbread.


New angle


First off the chicken was cooked beautifully with it keeping its tenderness intact. I always love the flavor that comes from roasted peppers and they just add nice juiciness to any dish. The balsamic glaze provided a touch of sweetness, which was countering the pungent taste of one partly raw red onion that I bit into. Besides that one bite, the whole dish was an explosion of flavor. One thing that I think is great about flatbreads is that most of the bread itself is soft, but once you get to that crust you get that crunch. For me, that crispy edge is one of the highlights.


View from my seat


This time I mainly talked with the bartenders. Bridgette was obviously one of them, but she was wrapping up her shift when I got there, but at least she gave me the fabulous suggestion. I also talked to Kim a bit who had just returned from a week-long staycation, which I could really use about now. One of her highlights was actually going to Catalina Island! I have yet to actually go there myself, so who knows it might be my next little weekend getaway.


Carlito’s Nameplate


One thing that I noticed for my adventure here at Maggiano’s was the fact that in front of each seat on the bar itself was a little nameplate. I didn’t get the best photo because the lighting was getting a little worst since the sun was setting. However, Cole, another bartender, told me that behind where the bar currently sits was where the original bar stood. That was until they expanded the dining area and moved the bar to the front. Each of these nameplates was for all the regulars that frequented the bar before it was moved over. I wondered if Carlito would have been mad if I was sitting in their seat. But all joking aside I think, amazingly, they did that to honor the patrons.


In honor of any regular bar patron out there, I ask you this question. What bar do you frequent most that the bartenders remember your name each time you go? Or you can just tell me which bar you spend the most time at?
May the adventures continue! Cheers!


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