What do Dubaiites do on an idle weekend? Mall-hop ofcourse! Nothing more gratifying than a bit of retail therapy and window browsing.
A couple of Thursdays ago, my family and I found ourselves in Mirdiff City Centre. After an epic shopping spree, we had to do justice to our growling stomachs and decided to do Italian at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill is an American-Italian chain originating from Houston, Texas. Created in 1988 by legendary restaurateur Phil Romano, Romano’s Macaroni Grill has been serving up dollops of Italian goodness in the UAE since May 2007.
In Mirdiff City Centre, Romano’s Macaroni Grill is located right in front of Vox Cinemas making it an ideal destination for a family day out that involves shopping, hearty eating and a movie.
We got to Romano’s around 9 pm, and the restaurant was buzzing with activity and totally packed. We were lucky to get a table!
Romano’s Macaroni Grill is the perfect set-up for a family with boisterous little kids. The table-tops are lined with white paper, and little hands are kept busy with a generous array of crayons.
Our host for the night was Cyrus, and he cheerfully scribbled down his name for us.
The staff are actually trained in writing upside-down! A clever feat we got busy trying to master as we awaited our orders.
Before you even get the menu, a plate of complimentary Peasant Bread is served at the table. This is a rustic, crusty herby bread that tears out beautifully to reveal a soft, fluffy interior.
The Peasant Bread is served with a dip consisting of olive oil and herbs, a dash of balsamic vinegar and a generous sprinkle of shaved parmesan.
For starters, we shared a mixed platter consisting of deep-fried calamari rings, crumbed mozzarella fritters and Bruschetta Crostini.
The calamari was super crunchy and delightful to eat with its accompanying Italian tomato sauce. The fried mozzarella had a beautifully battered outer layer, and stretchy, oozy cheese on the inside. You can never go wrong with fried cheese (says the glutton in me)!
However, I enjoyed the Bruschetta Crostini best. Bruschetta Crostini is an Italian-style canapé consisting of a semi-cooked tomato base that has been accentuated with the mild heat of raw, diced garlic and flavorful basil. The mixture is served on crisp, toasted ciabatta bread and garnished with shavings of mozzarella.
For drinks, we tried Romano’s Ultimate Bellini, a peach puree with raspberry ripples. The drink consists of an icy peach base, and you get a little jar of raspberry puree to pour in.
Romano’s Ultimate Bellini is an ultimate explosion of fresh, icy fruitiness and can be likened to sipping straw-fulls from an ice-cold fleshy peach!
Our little tot had an orange juice, which was cleverly served in a disposable plastic cup and straw. Moreover, they never serve ice in kiddie drinks. Romano’s really does have little people in mind!
The orange juice was a part of the kid’s meal. We ordered a Pepperoni Pizza for her, and lucky kids – their orders end with a generous scoop of ice-cream topped with chocolate sauce!
The Pepperoni Pizza was much larger than what you would expect for something out of a kid’s menu. I would say its sufficient for 3 little mouths, or one very hungry adult.
Romano’s kids’ menu has a number of choices for little munchers, and the colorful booklet doubles up as an activity book to take home and scribble.
For the mains, Cyrus suggested I try the latest addition to the Romano’s Macaroni Grill menu; the Chicken Cacciatore.
This dish is drenched in a very flavorful Italian tomato sauce, and the chicken was beautifully roasted to perfection. The meat was succulently moist and well marinated with a delicious blend of herbs.
Caballini pasta was mounted on the side. The pasta is literally twirled and presented in the form of a mini mountain of yumminess. And the grated cheese… can we have more cheese? Doesn’t this dish look spectacular?
Hubby had Romano’s Lobster Steak. The steak was charcoal-grilled and perfectly cooked on the inside. Crisp sautéed asparagus was served on the side, but from this plate, I liked the mash best. The creamy mashed potatoes have lobster stirred in, upping the humble mash many notches on the foodie scale.
For dessert, my daughter got her promised scoop, and this went down much faster than her pizza. She’s definitely inherited my sweet-tooth!
I wanted to try Romano’s New York Style Cheesecake. Theirs is actually imported from the States, and seems to be their most-ordered dessert. Unfortunately they were out of cheesecake for the night, so if this is what you’re after I’d recommend you order it well in advance.
Hubby and I ended up sharing the Homemade Chocolate Cake instead.
Romano’s Homemade Chocolate Cake is served with a scoop of ice-cream, a big dollop of whipped cream topped with chopped nuts and chocolate chunks, and a very decadent dark chocolate sauce.
I found the cake a little over-baked and dry, but the rich chocolate sauce came to the rescue and married in well with the coolness of the vanilla ice-cream.
Overall, Romano’s Macaroni Grill is the perfect choice for a family craving Italian. The service is fast and friendly, the atmosphere is kid-friendly, and the crayon-scribbled, chaotic table-tops add to the rustic homely charm that we very well associate with Italian hospitality.
It’s Thursday tomorrow; perhaps you’d like to head over to Romano’s?
Romano’s Macaroni Grill has four branches in the UAE, all located in prominent malls. We went to the one in Mirdiff City Centre which is handy if you’re catching a movie right after (as Vox Cinemas is right in-front). If you prefer aquarium views as you chug down your pasta, book a table at Romano’s in Dubai Mall. The third Dubai branch is located in Festival City, and Romano’s also has a branch in Abu Dhabi at World Trade Centre Mall.