Date Night is often asked how we stay so slim and trim even as we eat all of these calories on our dates. One of the things we do is ride our tandem bicycle 2500-3000 miles a year, which helps burn off a lot of desserts. We have a big ride in the morning and we need to “carb up” for it, and the best way to do that is with Italian food. For tonight’s date, we pick an Italian place that’s become a Cobb County icon for longevity.
We can’t think of a non-chain restaurant that has been in Cobb as long as Scalini’s. (If you can, please let us know.) It’s been in the corner of this shopping center since 1980 and besides expanding, the decor has been the same as long as we can remember. So has the menu and the endless salad and garlic rolls, which never change.
There’s an Olive Garden right across the street now where you can get the same kind of food, but Scalini’s keeps chugging along in spite of the chain store across the street.
We skip our customary beers and go right for two glasses of Chianti. They don’t even have beer on the menu, but there are people drinking it at the bar, so we know it’s available. Just about everything on the appetizer menu is fried, which we are avoiding tonight. We order one of the few appetizers that are not fried, the stuffed mushrooms, which turn into “fungal frustration”.
Our waiter, Nathan, who does a good job tonight, returns a few minutes later with our salad and our garlic rolls and informs us that the kitchen has burned our first order of mushrooms and the next one will be out in a few minutes. The mushrooms are delivered and these are severely undercooked. The sausage stuffing is lukewarm and the mushrooms are more or less raw. At least the butter-garlic sauce they are floating in is hot. Date Night is not afraid to send things back and we return these for further cooking.
While we wait for our mushrooms to be returned, we order some dinner. For me, lasagna is my food of choice before a 67-mile bike ride.
This is a huge piece of lasagna. I can’t imagine how many calories are in it, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s old-style Italian goodness on a plate.
There is an Atlanta restaurant legend that tells the tale of pregnant women who go into labor after eating Scalini’s eggplant parmesan. We see two pregnant women here tonight who are ready to “pop”, so maybe it works.
Although she is not pregnant, Eve orders the eggplant parmesan vegetale, which comes stuffed with other vegetables.
Under all of that cheese is eggplant, broccoli, zucchini, and squash. You get a side of pasta in case there’s not enough for you. We get through about half of this excellent dish and take the rest home for a future lunch. Our stuffed mushrooms (the third time’s a charm) are delivered after our entrees. We tell Nathan that we are no longer interested in the ‘shrooms and he does the right thing, taking them off the check. He does invite us to take them home, though, and since they finally are prepared correctly, we do just that.
After all of that heavy Italian cooking, we need something light and sweet.
We order the cannoli, which comes stuffed with chocolate chips and decorated with what probably is Hershey’s syrup. We go from stuffed to almost-miserable, but it is a nice way to end the meal.
The bottom line on Scalini’s: They have been around so long because they stick to the basics–value, service, and food quality. If you want a break from the trendy “new-age southern” or “farm-to-table”, and just want some “old-school” Italian (so old-school that they don’t maintain a Facebook page and their web site has not been updated since 2008), Scalini’s is the place for you. Avoid the appetizers as you don’t need them. The portions are huge and the salad never ends, so eat all you want. Ciao!