When we lived in Indiana, one of our favorite restaurants was Biaggi's in Fort Wayne. Before I continue, one thing you need to realize is that we didn't have a whole lot to choose from by way of nice restaurants. Had we lived in Chicago, for example, where great restaurants are the norm and not the exception, I don't know if Biaggi's would have made our list. That said, it was in the unique position of being a nice enough place to feel special and grown-up to the adults but at the same time, it was kid-friendly and affordable too.
It's an Italian bistro-style restaurant with 19 restaurants in 11 states. The atmosphere was casual but elegant with uncluttered, clean lines - open and airy, yet cozy at the same time. Best of all, not one piece of memorabilia to be found in the entire place! The menu was fairly extensive, with many tempting pasta dishes and a decent wine list that offered more than the Sutter's Home garden variety wine list, another trapping of many chain restaurants. It was simply a nice place to have meal that was more than a few steps above your average Applebee's or Ruby Tuesdays' meal without breaking the bank and without having to leave the kids at home if you needed or wanted to bring them along.
Last night I made a sandwich that was based on a sandwich I ordered several time from Biaggi's. It's a panini-style sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and a tomato-basil salad. This will not reflect well on Biaggi's, but one time they brought the sandwich and it was missing the bacon, the tomato-basil salad and the goat cheese. Huh? That was almost everything that made this sandwich great! I complained, they took it away to fix it and they brought it back. This time it had the bacon and the salad - it also had cheese, but it wasn't goat cheese. Now really, all of the ingredients are listed right there on the menu! How hard is it to read the stupid menu - especially if you're the cook??!! Fortunately, that was the exception to the usually competent service.
No more Biaggi's forus now that we're in PA - but this sandwich is easy enough to recreate at home. I cooked my chicken on the stove top instead of grilling - the damp, chilly weather wasn't very grill-inspiring. It would be great with roasted chicken too, or leftover roasted turkey. Something to keep in mind with Thanksgiving coming up. I did everything else pretty much as they did in the restaurant - our bread was a nice, crusty sourdough with rosemary which I brushed with a bit of olive oil before toasting.
All I needed was a panini-maker/grill thingy and it would have been perfect.............especially to help squish these down a little so that they actually fit in the mouth. Ah well, they were great anyway and no missing ingredients either......