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Love At First Bite

Ono, You Know

September 16, 2018

Story By: Ellise Kakazu | Photos by: Lawrence Tabudlo

Dining Out editor Ellise Kakazu is ready to take a bite of Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($10.95).

Love is in the air, as it seems just about everyone I know is either getting proposed to or tying the knot. In fact, one of my best friends just got married last week — I still am daydreaming about her beautiful garden themed wedding!

Basking in the spirit of amore (Italian for love), I am reminded of my deep affection for artichokes.

I first was introduced to the intriguing green vegetable, which actually is considered a thistle, when a friend told me to try her favorite spinach artichoke dip. Since then, I still can’t get enough of artichokes. I enjoy them in salads and pastas, on pizzas and of course in dips. Just like any genuine relationship, I do not think my feelings will ever change.

So whether you are as passionate about artichokes as I am or have never actually tried them, I cordially invite you to dig into some artichoke filled dishes with me.

Get ready to fall in everlasting love!

‘GRILL’ HEATS THINGS UP

Romano’s Macaroni Grill’s Chicken Scaloppine ($19.95)

Setting the mood for romance is Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

This Italian restaurant offers cozy seating, European-style decor and a menu filled with delectable options. Among its offerings is a divine Spinach and Artichoke Dip ($10.95) consisting of a blend of mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheese, spinach, artichokes, cream and various seasonings.

“We make that fresh every day,” notes Nawai Kekoolani, director of operations. “It’s an easy dish to eat, it’s something people know and feel comfortable ordering.”

Though spinach and artichoke dips are quite common, Romano’s version stands out from the crowd. According to Kekoolani, the restaurant’s rendition of the classic appetizer features “high-end” artichoke hearts, which are soaked in olive oil and imported from Northern California. He also notes Romano’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip is placed in a pizza oven before it arrives to one’s table, ensuring it’s sizzling hot.

Once the mixture is ready to serve, it is joined by sliced house bread that is brushed with garlic oil.

“The bread is to die for,” adds Kekoolani.

Another swoon-worthy dish is Chicken Scaloppine ($19.95). This entree boasts a medley of flavors, as it features mushrooms, prosciutto, capellini, capers, chicken breast, roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts dressed in a light yet tasty lemon butter sauce.

The tender pieces of artichoke found throughout the plate “does really well with the dish,” as artichokes have a very distinct flavor, notes Kekoolani.

“Artichokes speak for itself,” he adds.

Along with the aforementioned artichoke options, Romano’s offers an array of pastas, salads, pizzas and more. No matter what you decide to bring your lips to, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

“We put a lot of love and care into what we do,” says Kekoolani. “Anything that leaves the kitchen is going to be at 100 percent, that’s important to us.”

CATCHING FEELINGS

Ruby Tuesday’s Chicken ‘Bella ($20.99)

Now, let’s turn our attention to Ruby Tuesday, a beloved dining destination serving up a cornucopia of captivating items.

Ruby Tuesday is highly regarded for its glistening baby back ribs and garden bar, but the restaurant also offers other charming items like Chicken ‘Bella ($20.99) that will sweep you off your feet.

Chicken ‘Bella features a hefty chicken breast topped with a creamy, dreamy Parmesan cream sauce, roasted mushrooms and artichoke hearts. The decadent dish also comes with two sides — options up for grabs are grilled zucchini, rice pilaf, steamed broccoli, onion rings, mashed potatoes, french fries, green beans and baked potato.

Eddie Arnold, Ruby Tuesday Hawaii director of operations, notes Chicken ‘Bella boasts “similar flavors” to a spinach artichoke dip.

Ruby Tuesday’s Spinach Artichoke Dip ($11.99)

“Those flavors really work well together,” says Arnold. Always making a grand entrance is Ruby Tuesday’s ever so popular Spinach Artichoke Dip ($11.99).

When this appetizer makes its way to one’s table, everyone is sure to stop and stare, as the dish comes with a mound of fresh, house-made tortilla chips and a generous portion of the luscious dip consisting of spinach, artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese and cream.

Ruby Tuesday serves its Spinach Artichoke Dip with an “unlimited” amount of chips, so one can bask in its goodness for as long as he or she wishes.

What’s more, Spinach Artichoke Dip now is offered as a happy hour menu item, meaning everyday from 3 to 6 p.m. customers can get a hold of the satisfying appetizer for just $8 — a foodie’s fairytale dream come true.

Are you in love yet? I know I am.

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