It’s a chain – Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It’s struggling. It opened in 1988 and was sold as recently as 2015. Its value tanked in 2008 with the economic depression. There are branches around the world including Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Full circle. I was introduced to the restaurant when it opened in Jeddah in 2016. I’ve written about it. The restaurant is run by Filipinos. They don’t own it. They run it. Waiters and cooks, the Filipinos run the economy in Saudi. I’m not a fan of their ability to cook Chinese. But in this Italian place they did a bang up job. Great! The chain is in the US and upon returning, I located the nearest restaurant. It’s about 100 miles from home. We were traveling back from Boston and there was a restaurant in Hartford. Closed! Forever. The restaurant close to home was a bit out of the way and we arrived at 10PM an hour before closing. I know the chicken parmesan in Saudi. The cutlet is pounded flat and as large as your dinner plate. It’s covered in red sauce and mozzarella and cappellini pasta is layered beneath. The pasta is hot enough to burn you. The cutlet is crisp from the grill and the cheese is bubbling when the dish arrives at the table.
All of this explanation is the prelude to disappointment. Is it the local chef? Or did the restaurant quality control sheriff not visit recently. The cutlet was thick and dry. The dish was cold. The pasta was large spaghetti and covered with watery sauce. In short, this was a meal as unmemorable as I would expect from any fast food chain. Had I tried this restaurant location first I would never return. So to the sad new owners of Romano’s, wake up and pay attention to your place. You are failing. There are too many choices. And 100 miles is hardly a reason to make the trip. And I’m not going back to Jeddah. Talk to your Filipino chef there. He’s a lot better than your guy here.