Mar 272011

Cuisine: Italian, Fish & Seafood, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Gluten Free Menu, Happy Hour (Bar only), On-Site Parking, Sunday Brunch
Locations: Burnsville & Roseville, MN
Addresses & Maps:
Burnsville– 14296 Plymouth Ave  Burnsville, MN 55337  952-892-7555
Roseville– 2050 North Snelling Ave Roseville, MN 55113  651-644-2808
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-12am  Sun 10am-10pm
Links: Chianti Grill Website * Chianti Grill on Facebook

Atmosphere: The new home of the Chianti Grill in Roseville is on Snelling Ave next to Har Mar Mall.  This newly constructed restaurant has been open for about two years now and is a much larger and more modern version of its former home.  The main dining room is large and seems even bigger with the tall ceilings.  The room is divided into sections of high backed booths, which help to keep noise levels under control and also offer some privacy for the guests.

The bar area is another large seating area, with seating at the bar as well as booths along the wall.  The bar is beautiful and runs the entire length of the room.

There is also a little lounge area in the bar near the entrance; a great place to have a cocktail and wait for a table when it gets busy on the weekends.

Menu: Appetizers at Chianti Grill include Spicy Tenderloin Tips, Calamari, Mozzarella Caprese, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Seared Ahi Tuna, Crab Claws, Bruschetta, and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Flatbread options include Prosciutto Arugula, Mediterranean, Margarita, and Grilled Chicken.

Pastas include Seafood Canneloni, Lasagna Bolognese, Mostaccioli, Manicotti, Tortellini (ham, mushrooms and peas), Spinach Ravioli, Cappellini al Fresco, Spaghetti with Meatballs, Cappellini al Gamberetti, Spicy Chicken Penne, Seafood Linguini, Chicken Cappellini, Fettuccine Alfredo, Gnocchi alla Crema di Campagna, and Shrimp and Lobster Linguini.

Seafood options include Grilled Tiger Prawns, Walleye Impanato, Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Salmon Taormina, and Crab Claws.  Steaks include 8 oz Filet Mignon, 16 oz Sirloin, 16 oz Ribeye, 14oz NY Strip.  Chicken and Veal options include Marsala, Sorrento, and Parmigiana.

House Specialties include Zuppa de Pesce, Lobster Ravioli, Grilled beef Skewers, Lobster Oscar Filet.

Gluten-Free items include Chicken Spicy Penne, Lobster & Shrimp Spaghetti, Chicken Spaghetti, Penne Chicken Alfredo, Spaghetti and Mostaccioli, as well as all of the steaks and many of the seafoods from the dinner menu.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-13  Flatbread $8-10  Pasta $14-20  Entrees $16-28 (items on lunch menu considerably less)

Happy Hour:

  • Served in the Lounge only

Sunday Brunch:

  • $12.95/Adults $6.95/ Kids 4-11  Free/ Kids 3 and under
  • 10am-2pm
  • a variety of homemade pastas, fresh fruit, pastries, salads, an omelet bar, traditional breakfast items and delicious desserts.

What we ordered: What do you do when two different appetizers sound really good and you can’t decide which to get? Order Both!! At least that’s what I do ;) First on that list is the Spinach Artichoke Dip.  This was a large portion of cheeses, artichoke, spinach and onion blended then baked in a ramekin.  It was served with a sliced, toasted baguette.  Delicious! The dip was very flavorful, partially because it had a lot of onions in it, which I thought was great.  You might not love it as much if you aren’t a fan of onions.

We also tried the calamari.  This was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.  The calamari was cooked just right so it was still tender but the breading wasn’t too crispy and was kind of boring in the flavor department.  It was served with marinara and also a  horseradish dip, which were both good and definitely helped spice up the flavor.

Then came the basket of bread with our meals.  We didn’t have any room for this at dinner so I brought it home and had it later.  It was very good and kind of dense.

Our meals also came with a house salad, I got mine with ranch.  I just love fresh buttermilk ranch dressing and this one was really good!

For my meal I ordered the Mostaccioli.  Although this is kind of an ordinary meal for me and I usually order pastas that are more adventurous, I was in the mood for red sauce.  I was too full to eat more than a few bites while we were still at the restaurant, but it was very good.  The noodles were tossed with a zesty red sauce, ground Italian sausage, chunks of mushrooms, sauteed onions, garlic and other spices.  It was topped with a ton of mozzarella then baked.  I also had it topped with freshly grated parmesan.  This was yummy (although I know I could easily make something similar at home) and hit the spot.  The leftovers were just as good the next day.

My companion wanted to have something with seafood and after much deliberation and suggestions from the server, ordered the Crab Ravioli, one of the daily specials.  This was a unique dish; there were about five raviolis stuffed with shredded crab meat.  The bell pepper cream sauce that it was served with was very sweet and contained pieces of the tri-colored peppers.  We both liked it but I admit I think I would like it better with a more savory sauce.

Service: We had good service at Chianti Grill.  We visited at an odd time (3:30pm) on a Saturday and had no problem getting a table without a reservation.  Our server was both friendly and also had a funny sense of humor.  She had several recommendations on the menu and did a good job timing our food so that everything was staggered.  Most of the time our drinks were refilled as soon as needed but there were a couple of times while we were eating that I waited for several minutes without anything to drink.

Overall Impression: I am glad I finally had the opportunity to try Chianti Grill.  I thought the food was decent, as was the service.  Items from the lunch menu are considerably less expensive, so if you want to save a few bucks, visit before 4pm.  Happy Hour offered in the Lounge only.

Chianti Grill on Urbanspoon

Feb 062011

Cuisine: American, Barbeque, Dessert, Ribs
Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter-Service (at many locations), On-Site Parking
Locations: Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Duluth, Forest Lake, MOA, Mankato, Maple Grove, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Rochester, Roseville, St Paul, St Cloud, Stillwater, Woodbury
Apple Valley – 7593 147th Street Apple Valley, MN 55124    952-891-6400
Bloomington- 5101 West 98th Street Bloomington, MN 55437  952-832-0500
Burnsville-  2721 County Road 5 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-882-9933
Coon Rapids- 3211 Northdale Boulevard  Coon Rapids, MN 55448  763-421-9467
Duluth- 355 Lake Avenue South Duluth, MN 55802    218-740-3180
Forest Lake- 43 19th Street SW Forest Lake, MN 55025  651-464-4400
Mall of America- 320 South Avenue, Mall of America Bloomington, MN 55425 952-854-0225
Mankato-  291 St. Andrew Drive Mankato, MN 56001  507-385-1223
Maple Grove- 7825 Vinewood Lane Maple Grove, MN 55369  763-416-4600
Minneapolis- (Calhoun BBQ & Blues Club) 3001 Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55408 612-822-9900
Minneapolis-  4264 Upton Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55410  612-929-1200
Minnetonka-  14601 Highway 7  Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-933-9600
Plymouth- 11308 Highway 55 Plymouth, MN 55441  763-525-0500
Rochester- 431 NW 16th Avenue Rochester, MN 55901  507-282-4200
Roseville- 2131 Snelling Avenue Roseville, MN 55113 651-633-4800
St Paul- 1930 West 7th Street St. Paul, MN 55116 651-699-8800
Stillwater-  14200 60th Street North Stillwater, MN 55082 651-439-5200
St Cloud- 310 3rd Street NE Waite Park, MN 56387  320-217-5900
Woodbury- 1940 Donegal Drive Woodbury, MN 55125 651-501-1900

Hours: Daily 11am
Links: Famous Daves Website * Famous Dave’s Facebook Page * Map to Famous Dave’s Locations

Atmosphere: Most of the Famous Dave’s locations around the Twin Cities look very similar in decor, where the entrance leads you right to the counter where you order your food.   Wooden structures are built to resemble old shacks around the kitchen area.  Tables are spread throughout the space (pictured below is the Forest Lake location), all covered with red and white checkered tablecloths. Antique memorabilia adorns the walls.

The Famous Dave’s BBQ & Blues at Calhoun Square has a stage for live performances.  Cool place to see a small, intimate show!

Menu: Appetizers at Famous Dave’s include Smoked Salmon Spread, Chicken Fingers, Catfish Fingers, Ribs Tips, BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Onion Strings.

Side dishes at Famous Dave’s include Wilbur Beans, Coleslaw, Potato salad, Dunkin Apples, Fries, Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes,

Famous Dave’s has salads! Options include Smoked Salmon Caesar, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Crispy Chicken, and Dave’s Sassy BBQ Salad.  Soups include Chili or Wild Rice.

Sandwiches come with one side and include Beef Brisket, Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Texas Manhandler, Hickory Chicken, Cajun Chicken and Char-Grilled Chicken.  Burger options are the Char-Grilled Burger, Cheeseburger, Ultimate BBQ, Devil Spit, and Bacon & Jack Favorite Burger.

Barbeque Classics at Famous Dave’s are the Texas Beef Brisket, Georgia Chopped Pork, Barbeque Chicken, Rib Tips, Chicken Tenders, Country Roasted Chicken and Sweetwater Cajun Catfish.

Award-Winning Ribs are smoked in the pit then finished on the grill.  Size options  are 1/3 slab, 1/2 slab or full rack (12 bones).

Kids Meals include Roasted or BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Chopped Pork, Hamburger or Cheeseburger,  Ribs, and Mac & Cheese.

Dessert selections include Famous Bread Pudding, Pecan Pie, Hot Fudge Kahlua Brownie, and Ice Cream, Sundae with Hot Fudge or Pecan Praline Sauce.

Famous Dave’s has a variety of different sauces that are sure to please just about anyone!

Price guide: Appetizers $6-9  Sandwiches $9-10  BBQ Meats $12-13  Ribs $13-22 Desserts $6

What we ordered: I had the two-meat combo with Catfish Fingers and Texas Beef Brisket.  The four medium-sized catfish fingers were hot and crispy, fresh out of the fryer and seasoned with semi-spicy Cajun seasonings.  It  comes with to sauces to dip in, a sweet & sour type of sauce and a seasoned mayo tartar.  I thought these were especially yummy with the seasoned tartar.  The Texas Beef Brisket was also pretty good.  This combo came with corn, a corn bread muffin and two sides.  I love the corn bread at Famous Dave’s! It is more moist than typical corn bread and slightly sweet.  I am not a fan of the overcooked boring corn, which is a far cry from the sweetcorn we harvest in Minnesota.  The two sides I got were the garlic smashed potatoes and coleslaw, both very good.

My companion ordered the XXL Rib Platter, a 12-bone rack of St Louis Style ribs.  The ribs were meaty and quite tender, full of smokey flavor from the Pit.  The two sides were fries and cinnamon apples.

Service: The Forest Lake location of Famous Dave’s offers counter-service, and we were able to order within minutes of arriving.  We got ourselves drinks at the self-service station and waited approximately ten minutes before our food arrived.  Staff walk the dining room and check with guests from time to time to determine if they need anything, and bus tables when necessary.

Overall Impression: I really like the variety of menu choices at Famous Daves, although I think their prices are slightly high for the amount of food you get.  They have several great choices of sauces and despite being a large chain-restaurant, I think they do have pretty decent barbeque (you can’t go wrong with the ribs!).  If you register to be a part of the P.I.G. Club you can get special offers, so go sign up here
Famous Daves on Urbanspoon

Nov 062010

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant.

Cuisine: American, Dessert, Mongolian, Stir-Fry
Restaurant Features: All-You-Can-Eat, Bar, Dinner Buffet, Lunch Buffet, Patio, On-Site Parking
Location: Burnsville, MN
Address: 1025 County Road 42 West Burnsville MN  55306 (952) 435-0032
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm  Friday-Saturday 11am-11pm
Links: * bd’s Mongolian Website bd’s Mongolian Facebook PageGoogle Map *

Atmosphere: bd’s Mongolian Grill is located off Co.Rd 42 on the frontage road that runs around Burnsville Center (across from Macy’s), in the location formerly occupied by Macaroni Grill.  The inside of the restaurant is very large, with a giant, open dining room and another  smaller dining area up front (pictured below).  There are tables as well as booths, with plenty of room to accommodate a larger party.  The walls are bright and colorful, with really cool abstract paintings adorning them.

Near the front there is also a cool bar area, the perfect place to get a drink while waiting for a table on a busy night.

Menu: Appetizers include Wham Bam Shrimp, Eggrolls, Mongolian Ginger Wings, Nachos and Pan-Fried Potstickers.

There is a Soup and Salad Bar, with a basic selection of fresh salad ingredients and dressings.  There are always two soups, one that is the seasonal soup and the other rotates.  The Seasonal Soup is currently Beer Cheese.

The experience at bd’s Mogolian Grill is completely custom as you Create-A-Bowl just the way you want, from a large selection of ingredients that are set up buffet-style.  Your server will give you a red bowl to fill before you hit the buffet line.

First you start with your meats and pasta. Options include Chicken, Lamb, Strip Steak, Ribeye, Pork, Sausage, Krab, Scallops, Shrimp, Calamari, Mahi Mahi, Beer Pork, Ham, Montreal Rubbed Steak, Meatballs, Italian Sausage, Bacon, Cheesy Brats.  Pastas include Rice Noodles, Penne and 3 Cheese Ravioli.

Next you have your choice of fresh veggies including Bean Sprouts, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Carrots, Cheddar Cheese, Cilantro, Baby Corn, Cabbage, Edamame, Fresh Jalapenos, Mushrooms, Onions, Green Onions, Pea Pods, Peppers, Pineapple, Red Potatoes, Tomatoes, Water Chestnuts, Egg, Tofu, Asparagus, Cottage Cheese, Kidney Beans, Capers, and Apples.

Once you have your bowl filled, you will make a little dish of sauce and dried spices.  Sauce options include Asian Black Bean, Buffalo, Chili Garlic, Fajita, Kung Pao, Mongolian Garlic, Lemon, Peanut Sauce, Mongo Marinara, Shanghai Barbeque, Shitake Mushroom Sauce, Soy, Sweet and Sour, Teriyaki, Ponzu, Mustard, Pad Thai, Olive Oil, Sweet Orange Peel, Horseradish, Alfredo, Beer Cheese, Sauerbraten, and Thousand Island.

You can top your dish of sauce with any of the following dried spices: Chopped Garlic, Cajun, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Cracked Black Pepper, Curry, Granulated Garlic, Ginger, Lemon Pepper, Mixed Herbs, Peanuts, Seasoning Salt, Sesame Seeds, Crushed Red Chili Pepper, and Caribbean Jerk.

After you create your Custom Bowl, you bring it to the Mongo Cooks who will cook your creation to perfection over this 500′ Mongolian Grill.  The meats and veggies are cooked first and then when they are near done, the sauce you created is added.  It takes under 5 minutes for most dishes to be cooked.

bd’s Mongolian Grill also offers a variety of desserts including a line of Mini Desserts for only $2 including Cherry Cheesecake, Cookies and Cream, and Peanut Butter Cup.  Other larger desserts include Caramel Apple Pie Sundae, Brownie Sundae, Mongolian Sundae, Root Beer Float, and Cheesecake.

Price guide: Appetizers $7  Unlimited Soup/Salad/Create-A-Bowl *Kids 3-6 yrs/$3.99 * Kids 7-11yrs/$5.99  *Adults/$14.99   Desserts $2-6

What we ate: We started with a trip to the complimentary Soup and Salad Bar while we waited for our appetizer.  I made a garden salad and tried the Chicken Chili, the soup du jour.  It had many ingredients and was pretty good, very mild.  I didn’t eat too much of this because I wanted to save room for all the other goodies.  My companion got the Beer Cheese Soup, which is one of the seasonal items they are promoting this autumn. YUM!! It was one of the better beer cheese soups I have had! It was savory and cheesy and you could definitely taste the hint of beer.

The appetizer we ordered was the Wham Bam Shrimp.  These crispy fried shrimp were tossed in a creamy buffalo style sauce with green onions, then served in a large margarita glass.  These were slightly spicy and very tasty! The breading on the shrimp was still crispy providing a delightful combo of textures.

I knew I was in the mood for Asian-flavors so the first bowl I made was with with strip steak, ribeye, rice noodles, broccoli, pineapple, mushrooms, tofu, onions, bell peppers and fresh jalapenos.  The sauce I used was a combo of Szechuan, Kung Pao, Chili Garlic, Cayenne and Chopped Garlic.  So good!

My companion’s first plate was made with ribeye, scallops, chicken, noodles, zucchini, and green onion.  The sauce was similar to mine with Mongolian Ginger and Kung Pao.  Very good!

With every meal comes white rice, brown rice, lettuce, or tortillas. You can also upgrade to Fried Rice for $3.99. I ordered the Brown Rice and my companion ordered the Fried Rice, which was basically brown rice with carrots, egg and onion tossed in. Nothing special about the fried rice.

I went for a second plate and this time I wanted to try something that wasn’t Asian. At the suggestion of the guy who was there to help customers with their creations, I made an Italian-inspired stir-fry of cheese ravioli, broccoli, mushrooms, marinated chicken, and green onion.  The sauce I used was alfredo, cajun, and garlic.  Quite tasty! I enjoyed the flavors and textures quite a bit but wish that I would’ve doubled the amount of Alfredo I had used because it wasn’t as saucy as I prefer.  I loved the grilled flavor of the chicken and other veggies with the alfredo and ravioli.  A great option to create for those who aren’t in the mood for Asian cuisine.

My companion made a second bowl as well, with mahi mahi, shrimp, beef, zucchini and peppers cooked with the shanghai barbeque sauce.  I tried this one too and thought the asian barbeque sauce gave it a wonderful smokey-sweet flavor.   The mahi mahi was delicious!BBQ Beef Stir Fry at bd's Mongolian Grill ~ Burnsville, MN

I was certainly too full to eat dessert but managed to try a few bites of the Caramel Apple Pie Sundae before taking the rest home.  The size of this dessert was HUGE! It actually comes in two sizes and I guess I chose gluttony! The pie had been warmed and placed in this dish and then topped with a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel and then a ton of whipped cream on top.  It looked and tasted wonderful, it was just overkill after eating so much!

Service: We had great service at bd’s Mongolian Grill.  We visited late on a weeknight which was great because we didn’t have to wait for a table.  Our server explained how it all worked and was helpful with ideas of dishes to create, as were other all the staff who helped customers working their way through the buffet line of ingredients.

Overall Impression: I enjoyed bd’s Mongolian Grill a lot!  They have a great selection of ingredients so just about everyone can Create a Bowl that they can be satisfied with, even if they aren’t in the mood for Asian.  I loved the variety compared to other Mongolian-Grill style restaurants, plus bd’s addition of a Soup & Salad Bar.  The seasonal options are fun to try, I look forward to seeing what they will come up with next!

I would love to share the opportunity to try bd’s Mongolian Grill, so here is a Printable Coupon for $5 Off your next visit.  Good until November 15th, so head down to Burnsville fast!

BD's Mongolian Grill on Urbanspoon

Jan 182010

Cuisine: Pizza, Delicatessen (hoagies)

Restaurant Features: Catering, Counter-Service, Delivery, Kids Menu, On-Site Parking (at many locations)

Locations: Arden Hills, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Coon Rapids, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Richfield, Rogers, Roseville, Savage, St Paul, Woodbury
Addresses: (Click here for Maps of Davanni’s Locations)

Arden Hills: 3673 Lexington Ave N Arden Hills, MN 55126 651-481-7100

8605 Lyndale Ave S Bloomington, MN 55420 952-888-6232

Brooklyn Center:
5937 Summit Dr Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 763-566-8220

Burnsville: 14639 CR 11 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-431-1500

Coon Rapids: 3430 129th Ave NW Coon Rapids, MN 55448 763-712-1000

1960 Cliff Lake Rd Eagan, MN 55123 651-688-6111

Prairie: 8061 Flying Cloud Dr Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-941-4444

Edina: 5124 Gus Young Ln Edina, MN 55436 952-920-9090

Golden Valley:
663 Winnetka Ave N Golden Valley, Mn 55427 763-398-0303

Minneapolis: 1242 Hennepin Ave Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-338-0000

Minnetonka: 15200 Highway 7 Minnetonka, MN 55345 952-938-4243

3015 Harbor Ln N Plymouth, MN 55447 763-550-0003

2312 W 66th St Richfield, MN 55423 612-866-3324

14165 James Road Rogers, Mn 55374 763-428-2990

Roseville, 1905 W Perimeter Dr Roseville, MN 55113 651-636-3411

Savage: 14125 Highway 13 Savage, MN 55378 952-440-1200

St Paul:
310 White Bear AveSt. Paul, MN 55106 651-738-6992

St Paul:
41 Cleveland Ave S St. Paul, MN 55105 651-690-4848

Uptown Mpls: 1414 W Lake St Minneapolis, MN 55408 612-822-3111

Woodbury: 1905 Donegal Dr Woodbury, MN 55125 651-739-1010

Links: Davanni’s Website


Atmosphere: The East St Paul Davanni’s location is just off I-94 and White Bear Ave.  Like all other Davanni’s location, customers order at a counter and then wait for their name to be called when order is ready.


There are several different seating areas, each with booths that can accommodate up to four people.  There are also a  couple of tables in the very back section of the dining room.  There are many windows throughout the restaurant, leaving it very well lit during the day.


Menu: Appetizers include Potato Chips, Breadsticks and Garlic Cheese Bread.

Salads at Davanni’s are the Garden Salad, Side Garden, Chicken Cobb, Italian Chef, Oriental Chicken, Southwestern Chicken, Spinach Chicken, Chicken Caesar, and Side Caesar.

Hoagie sandwiches are served on either white, whole grain, or ciabatta roll with lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.   Options include Southwestern Chicken, Chicken Bacon Honey Mustard, Chicken Breast, Turkey/Bacon/Cheddar, Turkey, BLT w/ Cheddar, Club, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Ham, Salami, Tuna Melt, Veggie, and Three Cheese. Hot subs made with meat, marinara and cheese only include Chicken Parmigiano, Meatball, Sausage, and Pizza.

Davanni’s Pizza can be ordered with a choice of three different crusts (thin, traditional and deep dish) and two sauces (red and white).  Sizes pizzas come in are Solo, Medium and Laqrge.  Toppings choices are Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Sliced Chicken Breast, Canadian Bacon, Hamburger, Red Onion, Green Pepper, Garlic, Mushrooms, Hot Peppers, Green Olive, Black Olive, Pineapple, Bacon, Gorgonzola Cheese, Anchovies, Roma Tomatoes, Cheddar Cheese, and Jalapeños.

Davanni’s also has Penne Pasta (with chicken, meatballs or sausage), Lasagna and Stuffed Calzones.

Kids menu items include Hlaf Pasta, Solo Cheese Pizza, or Half Ham Hoagy.

Desserts include Brownies, Rice Crispy Treats, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

Price guide: Hoagies $3.25-7  Salads $4-7   Pizzas $5-20  Calzones $5.50+

What We ordered: My companions and I ordered a variety of pizzas, including this large Chicago-style deep dish pizza with pepperoni and sausage.  Davanni’s deep dish is a treat for those who like real Chicago-style pizza and has been my one of family’s favorites for many years.  The buttery brown crust is at least 1″ deep yet it is light.  The lightness of the crust is deceiving because the pizza is actually very filling.   The cheese and meats were baked directly on top of the crust with pizza sauce spread out on the very top to prevent the crust from getting soggy.  The large pizza had 10-12 wedges.


Our party also ordered a Large Thin Crust Pepperoni Pizza.  The crust on the thin crust pizza was also pretty good, crispy but slightly chewy.  It was loaded with melted mozzarella and a fair amount of pepperoni (although I personally like more).

Davannis-thincrust c and olive oil)

This is a solo deep dish pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and “pink” sauce.  Pink sauce simply means that it has both white sauce (garlic and olive oil) and red sauce.  If you like garlic, you would love either the white or the pink sauce.  This pizza was also very good, the mushrooms were fresh and there was a lot of pepperoni.  The light and buttery deep dish crust practically melts in your mouth.


One of my companions ordered a half pizza hoagy on whole grain with a special request for the sauce to be served on side.  This is a good sandwich but it doesn’t have much substance, just a thin layer of pepperoni and a thin layer of melted cheese on one half of the bread.  You better order the whole sandwich if you’re hungry!


Another companion ordered a pepperoni and veggie calzone to-go.  Safe to say that this thing was loaded with melted cheese, meat and veggies.


Service: You can call ahead for pick up or delicery, otherwise Davanni’s offers standard counter-service.  There are typically 2-3 cashiers taking orders during the lunch and dinner rush but you can still expect to wait a few minutes before placing your order. It was fairly busy during my visit and it took about 30-40 minutes for our pizzas, which seems a reasonable amount of time for the deep dish pizzas to bake.
Overall Impression: Davanni’s has excellent deep dish pizza and is conveniently located in several places around the Twin Cities.  Service is reasonably fast and menu prices aren’t going to break the bank.
Dari-ette Drive in on Urbanspoon

Jan 112009

Cuisine: Authentic Mexican,

Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking
Locations: Burnsville, Eagan & Savage, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Burnsville– 2501 Horizon Drive (Cliff Road & 13th) Burnsville, MN 55337 (952) 808-0068

Eagan1428 Yankee Doodle Rd Eagan, MN 55121 (651) 405-8244

Savage– 4749 West Highway 13 Savage, MN 55378 (952)736-8307
Link: El Loro Website * El Loro on Facebook


Atmosphere: The Burnsville location is quite large, with several small dining areas throughout the restaurant.  The parking lot wraps around the building and there are two entrances to the restaurant.  The decor is authentic Mexican, with large bright murals painted on the walls and a sombrero hung up here and there.  There are a mix of tables and booths, as well as a small bar area near the back entrance.  There also appeared to be a small patio area for use during warmer months.


Menu: Appetizers include Nachos, Queso Fundido, Chicken Fingers, Jalapeno Poppers, and Guacamole.

Salads at El Loro include a couple of different Taco Salads, Tossed Salad, and Chicken Salad.

Special dinners (entrees) include Fajitas (Shrimp, Beef, Chicken, Seafood), Carne Asada, Steak Ranchero, Carnitas,teak a la Tampiquena, T-bone Steak, Burritos Mexicanos, Burritos Rancheros, Enchiladas Rojas, Enchiladas Verdes, Enchiladas Poblanas, Quesadilla Ranchera, Enchiladas Rancheras, Pollo Asado, Pollo Loro, Pollo Monterey, Pollo Veracruzano, Chori Pollo, Yolandas, Burritos Deluxe, Burrito Ruleta, Chilaquiles Mexicanos, Taquitos Mexicanos, Shrimp Quesadilla, Shrimp Chimichanga, Quesadillas Veracruzanas, Quesadilla Rellena, Chimichanga, Enchilada Suprema, Chile Colorado, Chile Verde, Combo Special, Special Dinner, Loro Loco, Seafood Enchilada, and Camaron a la Diabla.

There are several combination plates and smaller-portioned lunch specials at reduced prices.

Desserts include Tres Leches Cake, Sopapilla, Flan, Fried Ice Cream, Cheesecake, Churros, Bunuelos (puffy pieces of pastry covered with honey, butter, and chocolate sauce) and Xangos (cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla and fried that dusted with cinnamon and sugar).

Price guide: Appetizers $4-7 Salads $6-9 Lunch Specials $5-6 Special Dinners $9-14  Combination Plates $8-9
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary chips and salsa.  The chips were freshly made; warm, crispy, and lightly salted.  The salsa was slightly spicy and had great flavor, I especially liked the fresh cilantro.  We also were given a side of “Loro” house dressing, which was a thick, sweet and tangy ranch style sauce.  I also ordered the Texas Margarita, which I believe to be Jose Cuervo Gold and lime juice.  Very good but very strong!

ElLorro-chipssalsa1000 For my entree I ordered the Special Combo, which was a chicken chimichanga and a shredded beef taquito covered with nacho sauce and served with rice and beans.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Nacho sauce when I ordered, but it seemed to be made from melted Mexican cheese, spices and chile peppers and had a lot of flavor.  I thought it was pretty good.  The chicken in the chimichanga was shredded breast meat that was very tender and seemed to be of excellent quality, and the flour tortilla was fried to a nice crispy golden brown .  The beef taquito was also very good, made from a  fried corn tortilla. I also ordered a chicken enchilada a la carte, but substituted salsa verde for the enchilada sauce, which I think turned out to be an excellent idea! The chicken was great and the salsa was also very good.  Beans and rice were also both very good.  The consistency of the beans was on the thicker side, and the rice was flavorful and slightly dry (which I like!).


ElLoro-chickenenchilada1000 One of my companions ordered the Special Dinner, which was a chicken burrito, shredded beef enchilada, beef taco, chile relleno, chalupa with guacamole salad, and rice & beans.  Everything was very good.  The chile relleno was a spicy poblano pepper stuffed with cheese and deep fried.  The enchilada sauce was okay, kind of sweet & tangy.

ElLoro-specialdinner1000 Another companion ordered the Carnitas Dinner, which was delicious! The hefty portion of pork was very tender and moist and came with three flour tortillas, guacamole salad and rice & beans.  There was definitely enough meat to make several tacos, but I think corn tortillas would have been better with the carnitas (more authentic!).


Service: Our party of four arrived at El Loro on a very busy Friday night when all but one table near the door were already taken.  I was disappointed we did not get a booth, but we were hungry and did not want to wait for one to open up, so we sat at probably the worst table in the place (which wasn’t really too bad).   Food and drinks arrived in a decent amount of time considering how busy the restaurant was.  One thing I noticed was that all of the servers in the restaurant were Latino Males.
Overall Impression: Very good, authentic Mexican food at reasonable prices.
El Loro on Urbanspoon

Aug 282008

Cuisine: American,
Restaurant Features: Banquet Room, Bar, Sports Bar, On-Site Parking

Locations: Burnsville,  Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, *Maplewood, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, New Brighton, Richfield, St. Paul, Woodbury
Addresses & Maps:
Burnsville- 1200 W. County Rd. 42 Burnsville, MN 55337 952-898-5050
Eden Prairie8010 Glen Lane Eden Prairie, MN 55344 952-942-3331
Maple Grove– 13521 80th Circle North Maple Grove, MN 55369 763-494-4515
Maplewood-1734 Adolphus St  651-487-5050
Minneapolis– 100 N. 6th St. Minneapolis, MN 55403 612-335-5050
Minnetonka– 641Plymouth Rd. Minnetonka, MN 55305 952-546-3333
New Brighton– 2397 Palmer Dr. New Brighton, MN 55112 651-639-0339
Richfield- 790 W. 66th Street Richfield, MN 55423 612-861-3333
St Paul– 2401 W. 7th St. St Paul, MN 55116 651-698-5050
Woodbury– 8418 Tamarack Village Woodbury, MN 55125 651-735-5050

Links: Champps in Maplewood Champps Corporate Website


Atmosphere: Known primarily as a Sports Bar/Restaurant, Champps in Maplewood has Neon Signs and Memorabilia adorning the Logos of our Minnesota Sports Teams throughout the building.  The main dining area has a mix of round wooden tables and booths.  The building is very large, with a banquet room on the lower level and two large parking lots on either side of the building .


The bar area has a number of tall tables in addition to seating around the bar.  There is also an enclosed patio area with multiple windows that wraps around one side of the building.


Menu: Although Champps is a national chain, each restaurant is individually franchised and has control over their own menu.  Here is a link to the Champps Corporate Menu.  The menu that I am going to review is that of Champps in Maplewood, the site of my review.

Appetizers include Garlic Cheese Bread, Chicken Fingers, Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Santa Fe Eggrolls, Buffalo Wings, Asian Pot Stickers, Merlot-Grilled Sirloin, Quesadillas, Nachos, Potato Skins, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings, Cheese Curds, and Waffle Fries.

Champps also has a large selections of salads including Southwestern Chicken Caesar, Caesar, Greek Chicken, Cobb, Buffalo Chicken, Oriental Chicken, Crispy Chicken Tender, Bleu Steak, Chopped, Taco Salad and Pasta Salad.  Soups offered are French Onion Au Gratin, Chicken Noodle and Soup du Jour.

Sandwiches at Champps are served with choice of chips, potato salad, cole slaw or cottage cheese.  Selections include the Mediterranean Tuna Melt, Mile High Turkey, Chicken Cyn, Gyro, Adobe Turkey, Muffaletta Hoagie, Buffalo Chicken, BBQ Pulled Prk, Spinach and Artichoke Chicken, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Champps Clubhouse, Hawaiian Chicken, 3-Cheese Chicken, Reuben/Rachel, Grilled Cheese, Cajun Chicken, French Dip, Walleye, Turkey Bacon Ranch, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Ranch Chicken Wrap, Club Wrap, Southwestern Chicken Wrap, Philly Cheesesteak Wrap, and the Texas Fajita Wrap.  There are also a large selection of Specialty Burgers.

Specialty Pizzas that are offered are Margherita, Spinach Artichoke and Pepperoni, and Meat Lovers.  You can also build-your-own pizza.

Pasta Specialties are the Fettuccine Alfredo, Cajun Chicken Fettuccinne, Baked Mostacioli, Roasted Artichoke and Grilled Chicken Penne, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Jambalaya.

Entrees include the BBQ Rib Platter, Lemon Pepper Walleye, Grilled Fajitas, Kung Pao Chicken, Fish & Chips, and Sirloin Steak.

Desserts include Cookie Espresso Sundae, Brownie Sundae, New York Cheesecake with Berries, Hot Fudge Sundae and Chocolate Cake.

Price guide: Appetizers $6-10  Salads $9-12  Sandwiches $7-9  Pastas $11-15 Entrees $12-19
What I ordered: I ordered the Taco Salad, which came in a fresh, crispy tortilla bowl.  The bowl itself was on the small side, and was packed full of lettuce, seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions and fresh jalapeños, with sour cream and salsa on the side.  It was so packed full of ingredients that there wasn’t enough room for me to mix the salad, but I thought it was really good.


One of my companions ordered the sandwich/soup combo, a Grilled Cheese with potato salad and side Caesar salad that they happily substituted for the soup. The bread was thick and buttery, grilled to a nice golden brown.  The salad was a generous portion for a side salad.


Another companion ordered sandwich/salad combo with Grilled Turkey, Potato Chips, and Garden Salad.  The chips they serve are of the kettle variety; crunchy and salty.


Another companion ordered a BLT with Waffle Fries and Seasoned Sour Cream.  The BLT isn’t actually on the menu, but the restaurant was more than willing to accommodate the request since they had the necessary ingredients.


Service: My party arrived at the beginning of the lunch hour, immediately after the restaurant opened and we were seated promptly at our choice of table.  The staff was friendly and more than willing to accommodate a couple of minor changes to the menu, such as substituting a side salad for soup in the sandwich/soup combo, and making a BLT which was not on the menu at all.
Overall Impression: Decent food with huge portions for the price.  Service is prompt and friendly, great place to watch any of our local sports games.
Champps on Urbanspoon

Dec 232007

Cuisine: Italian (family style)
Restaurant Features: Bar, Banquet,

Locations: **St Paul (site of this review), Burnsville, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove and Minneapolis

St Paul 2728 Gannon Road  St. Paul, MN 55116  651.772.4388
Burnsville 14300 Burnhaven Drive  Burnsville, MN 55306 952.892.7272
Eden Prairie 7711 Mitchell Road  Eden Prairie, MN 55344  952.934.9463
Maple Grove 12650 Elm Creek Boulevard Maple Grove, MN 55369 763.494.3466
Minneapolis 1204 Harmon Place Minneapolis, MN 55403 612.288.0138

Links: Buca di Beppo website *Buca Facebook PageGoogle Map
Atmosphere: Big, loud, happy and crowded, warm and cozy.  There are many sub-sections to the large restaurant, many of which have long tables to fit large parties.


Menu: Appetizers include Garlic Bread (with or without mozzarella), Bruschetta, Fried Calamari, and Pan Fried Fresh Mozzarella.

**Buca offers three portion sizes for their entrees: Individual (1 person), small (serves 2 or more) and large(serves 4 or more).

Salads include apple gorgonzola, fresh mozzarella caprese, chopped antipasto, Caesar, warm tomato spinach and the Di Beppo 1893 salad.

Baked pasta specialties include manicotti, stuffed shells, baked ravioli, chicken cannelloni, and lasagna.

Pasta dishes include spaghetti marinara or with meatballs, linguine frutti di mare, ravioli al pomodora, gnocchi al telefono, macaroni rosa, tortelloni, penne arribbiata,  penne campofiore, fettuccine alfredo, and  shrimp fra diavolo.

Entrees include chicken saltimbocca, chicken with lemon, chicken marsala, chicken, eggplant, or veal parmigiana, salmon with pesto, veal limone, and porchetta rustica.

Desserts include tiramisu, double dark chocolate cake, cheesecake, chocolate cannelloni, spumoni, chocolate vesuvio, and apple crostata.
Price guide:
What we ordered: My companions and I ordered several dishes to share, starting with Buca’s delicious garlic cheese bread.  Heavy emphasis on the garlic!! They slice the cloves and put on a very generous amount.  The bread is crispy and absolutely amazing!


Mussels served in-the-shell with Marinara sauce. These were the most delicious, tender mussels I have ever had the pleasure of consuming.  On the small side, but with amazing flavor.  A must-try if you like mussels!


We had the chicken Canneloni  ( Pasta tubes are overflowing with 100% chicken sausage, Italian
cheeses and fresh sage. Smothered with provolone cheese and Romano
cream sauce. Served on a bed of fresh marinara sauce.)


Macaroni Rosa ( pasta with sliced chicken breast, broccoli, peas, mushrooms and Roma tomato bruschetta. Tossed with marinara sauce, a hint of cream
and corkscrew pasta.) This was so much better than it looked! The portion size was huge for a small, and loaded with ingredients and sauce.

Chicken Marsala (Sautéed chicken breasts and fresh mushrooms in a sweet Marsala wine reduction).  Very good, but disappointing to only get two chicken breasts in a small order.


Apple Gorgonzola Salad (Tart
Granny Smith apples, spiced walnuts, dried cranberries and Gorgonzola
cheese are tossed with fresh Romaine lettuce and our Italian vinaigrette).  Wow!


Manicotti ( Tubes of pasta stuffed with a rich blend of ricotta, mozzarella and
Romano cheeses and fresh Italian parsley, topped with creamy béchamel
sauce on a bed of  homemade marinara sauce.)


Garlic mashed potatoes


Spaghetti and meatballs (Imported Italian spaghetti with Buca’s famous half-pound mouth-watering meatball smothered in  homemade marinara sauce.)


Service: Wonderful! We made our reservations several weeks in advance and requested a space that was a little more private.  They put us in the corner or the restaurant at a round table for 8.  So nice that we could all see and talk to each other! It was a very busy night (as it always is at Buca), but server did a great job making recommendations.  One thing that is slightly inconvenient is Buca’s inability to split up checks.  No matter how many people are in your party, they will only give you one check per party.  They will, however, run as many credit card transactions as necessary :)
Overall Impression: Excellent Italian food, as long as you like garlic! Vampires beware of Buca and anyone who has eaten there within 12 hours! Great place to meet for large groups.  Reservations are needed.
Buca di Beppo on Urbanspoon

Jul 062007

Cuisine: Italian, Pizza

Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking (for all but Rosedale Mall location)

Location: Burnsville, Edina, Minnetonka, and Roseville, MN

Addresses & Maps:

Burnsville1025 Country Road 42 Burnsville, MN 55337 (952) 898-4366

Edina7651 France Ave S Edina, MN 55435 (952) 844-0084

Minnetonka11390 Wayzata Blvd Minnetonka, MN 55305 (952) 417-9880

Roseville– Rosedale Mall  1705 Highway 36 W Roseville, MN 55113-3011 651-633-2148

Links: Macaroni Grill website * Macaroni Grill on Facebook











































Atmosphere: Dimly lit and somewhat romantic, you might not even realize that you are situated within the Rosedale Mall.  There is a mix of tables and booths underneath a wooden faux-gazebo structure.























Menu: Appetizers include bruschetta, fried mozzarella, shrimp & artichoke dip, calamari, crab-stuffed mushrooms and parmesan crusted artichokes.

Pasta dishes include the Pasta Romano, penne rustica, shrimp portofino, vodka rustica, seafood linguine or create-your-own pasta from a choice of pastas and sauces.  Stuffed pastas include lobster ravioli, chicken cannelloni, and chicken marsala ravioli.

Classic dishes include chicken or veal marsala, chicken, eggplant or veal Parmesan, fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken and shrimp scaloppine and twice baked lasagna.

Meat entrees include chicken portabello, steak, grilled halibut or salmon, grilled porkchops, and honey balsalmic chicken  There are also a selection of brick-oven pizzas, salads and soups.

Price guide: Appetizers- $5-10   Pastas- %9-16  Meat Entrees- $12-21


What we ordered: Macaroni Grill always provides free loaves of their fresh, hot bread.  Break off a piece and dip it in the olive oil provided.  Delish! The texture is light, similar to ciabatta.























For my entree I ordered the Mama’s Trio, a sampler of the chicken parmesan, chicken canneloni, and twice baked lasagna.  The chicken parmesan was very good, as was the lasagna (however the lasagna was warm at best, not hot).  The cannelloni had nice flavor, but the outer shell was pretty dry and crunchy.



















My companion ordered the chicken parmesan entree, served on a  bed of angel hair pasta.  The size of this chicken was magnificent!  The combination of textures with the chicken and angel hair pasta was a big hit.





















Service: The hosts and serving staff were very friendly and pleasant.  Drinks and food served in a timely fashion.

Overall Impression: Decent Italian food if you like chain-style restaurants. Prices are comparable to other Italian restaurants of the same caliber, good service.

Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon