ROMANO’S MACARONI GRILL | @awfullybrittish

We got word that Romano’s Macaroni Grill just rolled out a new lunch menu, one that promised $7 specials served in seven minutes or less. As journalists, time is rarely on our side, so a quick lunch between interviews is a big help.

To see what the hoopla was all about, I drove over to the Romano’s in Friendly Center and was preparing my pallet for a quick and cheap lunch. But it was to no avail. The $7 lunch special hasn’t hit the Greensboro market yet, which meant I couldn’t enjoy a prosciutto grilled cheese sandwich, or a chicken parmesan sandwich from the new Kitchen Counter.

Instead, I was greeted by a young waitress named Daisia and seated in a dimly lit booth. If Romano’s was going to leave me high and dry on the new lunch special, at least the service was top notch. Waitresses have a tough job: It is expected that they serve you with a smile regardless of how their day is going because the tip depends on the service, at least that’s how I view it. She also wrote her name on the paper tablecloth, which meant I couldn’t forget it. I like calling waitresses by their names – it makes the dining experience more personal and less like an edible business transaction.

I inquired about the special, to which she told me it wasn’t available yet, but quickly sprang into action listing off the current lunch specials that were offered. I was still leaning on the side of affordability, so the $10 lunch special would have to suffice. Ordinarily I wouldn’t dip into double digits for lunch, but I was already here, and she had already brought out a plate of bread and olive oil with cracked pepper.

The $10 lunch special is a three-course meal with four options on the entrée. I opted for the Penne Arrabbiata, although the Sausage and Peppers Rigatoni held my eye for a moment.

The first and second courses come out first, which include a mozzarella fritta and a Caesar salad. The mozzarella fritta is essentially a fancy looking mozzarella stick, but it did have a little dollop of marinara on the side. And it was in the shape of a triangle, which must be where the “fritta” comes into play.

It’s pretty much impossible to mess up a Caesar salad, and Romano’s being an Italian establishment has this staple item down pat.

The penne arrabbiata, though, pretty much stole the show. As it should. A massive bowl of pasta was delivered to the table, and I quickly realized my eyes were much larger than my appetite. I expect most pasta sauces to be one of two flavors: Marinara or Alfredo. The arrabbiata sauce that covered the penne had just the right kick with the help of some chili peppers and garlic, but it wasn’t overpowering enough to cover the blanket of parmesan cheese Daisia added to the dish.

At $10 for lunch, the meal easily turned into two dishes. There was enough bread leftover to cram into the to-go box that was already bulging with penne, so I was set for the remainder of my day.

Although lunch for $7 would’ve been the ideal option, and I was pretty excited for the prosciutto grilled cheese, the $10 meal worked just as good. If the new menu is able to match the quality of flavor that is currently offered, Romano’s Macaroni Grill should have no problem filling the seats during the lunch rush. !


Romano’s Macaroni Grill is located at 3120 Northline Avenue in the Friendly Center shopping center in Greensboro. It is open Sun. – Thu. From 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Fri. – Sat. from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.