Willie Mae: Escaping The Hooligans And Relishing In Romano’s Macaroni Grill

Friday, July 19, 2013 - by Willie Mae

Lois and I got together searching for a family-owned place we had been told about on Hixson Pike. We had the address but none of the buildings seemed to have numbers on them. I think it should be a rule that all places put numbers on their building that would be visible from the road …but that’s just my opinion.

We circled the block twice knowing we were close and finally found it. When we went inside, it was as dark as a cave and smelled like smoke! We could barely see and the place looked empty (except for some hooligans with leather vests playing cards at a table). We weren’t sure if they were the ‘family owners' taking a break or customers, but no one spoke to us. Lois immediately said, “Do you want to go somewhere else?” And we did.

As we searched for a place nearby, I noticed there were plenty of pubs and lounges. We didn’t want a repeat of more smoky dives so we left the area and came back towards Lois’ neighborhood. She had been to Macaroni Grill on Gunbarrel Road before but I had never eaten there.

This place was nice and bright and we could see. Well, Lois couldn’t – she didn’t bring her glasses. She doesn’t like to carry a purse when we go out, but expects me to tote her stuff in mine. She always hands me Kleenexes and her credit card to put in my purse but she forgot her glasses this time, so I loaned her mine.

I was busy paying attention to our server, Denielle. I know how she spells her name because she wrote it on our table with a crayon. She is pretty talented too - she did it upside down where we could read it. I complimented her on her ability and I think she got a little cocky, because she then tried to draw a wine glass. While Lois had my eyeglasses, I asked Denielle what she recommended. When she talked with her sweet, high-pitched voice, she sounded like she was on fast forward. She was beautiful and could win a beauty pageant if she slowed down when she talked.

After I asked her to slow down, I understood a few of her favorites that she shared and I decided on the Chicken Scaloppine with artichokes, mushrooms, prosciutto, lemon butter with capellini for $14. Lois started to get what I ordered, but she and I have different tastes, so I suggested she get something she knows she likes. She chose Chicken Parmesan for $13. I kept eying the stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer, but I seem to always get mushrooms and thought that would bore y’all. I ended up choosing the Goat Cheese Peppadew Peppers for $5.

Our server brought us a loaf of Ciabatta bread with a dish of olive oil and spices, while a boy stood up on a chair nearby and sang his little heart out! He was good too, but I couldn’t understand him either (he wasn’t singing fast he just sang in another language).

I grabbed a knife on the table to slice the bread and Lois asked sweetly, “Don’t you have any silverware?” I didn’t realize I had grabbed hers that she had out. We weren’t given a good knife for the bread and it took some sawing. I think bread should come out already sliced …but that’s just my opinion.

When the peppers were brought out, I had forgotten I ordered them and I still expected mushrooms. It made the round mushroom-shaped peppers look odd and I thought we were brought the wrong thing. I asked, “Are these the mushrooms?” When Denielle explained that they were the Peppadew Peppers, then I remembered ordering them. They looked appetizing with brown sauce drizzled across them.

As soon as it touched my tongue, I thought it was out of this world! The combination of the sauce and the sweetness of the pepper were so delicious. Lois tried one and as I went on about how good it was, she agreed with me. There were six little peppers the size of a cherry tomato and Lois stopped after just one. I told her to get her other two and she got one more but then said I could have them. I could tell they were not her cup of tea. Lois likes to pretend that her tongue is as outgoing as mine, but she really likes to stick to the basics.

Our meals arrived and I have to say that Lois’ basic Chicken Parmesan didn’t look too basic! It was beautiful, with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Lois sure did enjoy it. I enjoyed my meal too.  The flavors of the artichoke and capers with the lemon butter blended so well together. I wanted Lois to at least try it so I got my second fork and gathered a bite of chicken, prosciutto, caper and artichoke and wrapped the angel hair pasta.

At first, the pasta wrapped too big and Lois knew that bite was for her and she shook her head and said, “Uh-uhhh!” I let some of the pasta wiggle off my fork and then handed it to her. She liked what I had too, but was glad that she got what she ordered. She asked me, “Did your dinner come with leaves?” I said, “No.” She asked, “Do you want some?” Lois makes me giggle.

We were going to share a dessert, so I asked our server for a desert menu and Lois sweetly said that she couldn’t see the menu. I pretended not to hear her because I wanted chocolate! I kept my glasses and decided on the ‘Homemade Chocolate Cake’ with warm ganache, toffee and whipped cream for $5.

It looked wonderful! When I poured the ganache onto the cake, Lois told me to make sure and scrape it all. We both dug in with our spoons and I playfully clinked my spoon with Lois’ spoon as if to do  ‘cheers’ with her …and I made her bite fall off. Lois swatted at me with her spoon. The scrumptious desert topped off our wonderful meals – it was perfecto!

Lois asked, “I wonder if there will be dessert in Heaven?”


Sun - Thu: 11:00AM to 10:00PM

Fri - Sat: 11:00AM to 11:00PM 

Jay Frankovich Wins Lamar Johnson Classic BBQ Event

Jay Frankovich of 'Merica Smokers won the Lamar Johnson Classic BBQ Event held  Saturday  in Ooltewah. The event was held in conjunction with Ooltewah Oktoberfest and sponsored by the local Ooltewah Food City. Mr.  Frankovich out cooked 10 other teams posting wins in the chicken and ribs category and placing second in pork category to earn the ... (click for more)

Sushi Bistro Opens On Main Street; Other New Eateries Include Fireside Grill, Bolton’s Spicy Chicken & Fish, Dominica’s Caribbean Kitchen

At the Thursday meeting of the city Beer Board, four consumer beer licenses were issued to restaurants and bars. Alex Thai Food & Sushi Bistro, 26 E. Main St., is on the ground floor of a new apartment building. The restaurant has a capacity of 65, with hours from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fireside Grill, 3018 Cummings Hwy. is being opened as a restaurant/bar in Lookout ... (click for more)

Atlantic Capital Bank, Formerly FSG Bank, Moves Home Office To Warehouse Row

Atlantic Capital Bank, NA announced Friday that it has sold the current home office at 531 Broad St. to Harbert Realty of Birmingham, for  $5,375,000.  The bank’s new home office signals the start of a brand transition from the FSG Bank name, currently found in its eastern Tennessee and northwest Georgia markets.  Atlantic Capital will occupy the third floor ... (click for more)

TDEC Asks Residents In Southeastern Counties To Limit Water Usage To Ease Drought Conditions

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is asking the public to temporarily limit water usage for non-essential purposes as areas in Tennessee’s southeastern counties face extreme drought conditions. Residents who receive water from the following public utilities are advised to limit their use until drought conditions subside: Fall Creek ... (click for more)

Accountability Doesn't Have To Be A Bad Word

Am I making a difference? Isn’t that the basic question we all ask ourselves, and seek to demonstrate to others?  Ronald Reagan said:  “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don't have that problem.”   We would argue teachers do not have that problem either.    Educators make a huge difference ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Guess Who Backed Kelly?

Two weeks before the August election where three members of the Hamilton County School Board were angrily replaced, the organizer of what was called “a great way for the (challengers) to raise great money to help them run smart campaigns” made a bold statement. “I'm sure the current board is well-intentioned, but the results are not there," said Paul Brock. "Leadership matters ... (click for more)