Unless by “little” they mean “enough calories to feed a triathlete for a week, if the triathlete is a elephant.” We kept finding ourselves in NoVa over the weekend, and for lunch one day we ended up at Maggiano’s Little Italy at Tyson’s Galleria (shudder). I had never been to any MLI; I thought the food was okay but really heavily sauced (volume and consistency) and supersized portions. Veal parmagiana, for example, tasted fine, but there was probably close to a pound of veal on the plate, plus a huge bowl of mediocre spaghetti, and a total of about 1500 calories. A couple of people got the lasagna, said it was okay: 1920 calories. A half portion of spaghetti and sausage with meat sauce is 1940 calories.
You won’t find these calorie counts on the menu, or at the website — they don’t make it easy! — but a few enterprising people have tracked them down and posted them elsewhere on the internets, see at the end of this post. Maggiano’s is not any more guilty of overcalorification than any other large national chain, from Cheesecake to TGI to Outback; they’re all more or less the same, which is merely one of several reasons I try to avoid all of them. And I think they will all be covered by forthcoming federal regulations (proposed rules issued this past Friday) requiring large national chains to include calorie info on their menus (see e.g. WaPo here).
If you must ingest a day’s worth of calories (not to mention saturated fat and sodium) at one sitting, and if you insist on doing it at a national chain, then Maggiano’s is a reasonable candidate. I guess. Though service was also meh: our waiter had no idea who ordered what, resulting in the dreaded “auctioning” of dishes when they arrived at the table.
At least the company was enjoyable, and that’s what really counts, right? And I suppose if you look at it from a dollar-per-calorie perspective, we got our money’s worth.