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DINING OUT

A spot for those who want their pasta to last and last

Johnny Macaroni's


582 West St., East Bridgewater
508-378-9335
johnnymacaronis.com
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3-8 p.m. Major credit cards accepted

From the outside, Johnny Macaroni's doesn't look like much. It's a little restaurant tucked inside a ranch-style house next to the MBTA railroad tracks on Route 106.

But don't let the exterior fool you. Inside, customers get an expansive menu, an accommodating, friendly wait staff, and huge portions of comfort food at affordable prices.

Just be sure to bring your appetite, and plan on bringing leftovers home with you.

The atmosphere is cheerful and casual. Strings of lights provide a nice glow in the main dining room. Floral tablecloths cover each table, and green paper placemats anchor each place setting. The bathrooms are spacious and clean.

As you can tell by the name, this is a restaurant that specializes in pasta. It provides plenty of options to satisfy both vegetarians and carnivores. You can pick your favorite form (angel hair, bowtie, fettuccine, linguini, spaghetti, or ziti) and choose from an array of sauces, from simple combinations of garlic and oil to more complex recipes like a vodka tomato cream sauce.

The dinner menu also includes chicken, 12-ounce sirloin steaks, sirloin tips, veal parmigiana, and seafood dishes such as lobster ravioli, shrimp, scrod, and calamari.

Our party of three -- me, my mother, and Lauralee -- arrived on a Sunday afternoon and were seated immediately. As we perused the lengthy menu, our waitress brought a basket of white bread with a sesame seed crust and three tall glasses of ice water (and kindly asked if we wanted slices of lemon or lime with them).

I started with a garden salad ($2) of crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, and gigantic, extremely buttery croutons.

For my main course, I chose broiled scrod ($13) that was delicious, tender, and topped with tasty bread crumbs, accompanied by a potato baked to perfection and sweet baby carrots.

My mother ordered chicken cacciatore ($13) with ziti, a meal that is served in what Johnny Macaroni's calls a "Jumbowl" -- an oversized white vessel that's bigger than a mixing bowl, containing the largest single portion I've ever seen.

Tender pieces of chicken were swimming alongside fresh slices of peppers, onions, and mushrooms in a vat of marinara sauce.

"It's so much, it's overwhelming. You're in awe," remarked my mother. "You could eat for days."

Lauralee ordered the baked three-cheese lasagna ($11), six or seven pasta layers stuffed with fluffy white mozzarella and ricotta cheese. This was not a mere slice of lasagna; no, this piece of pasta was the size of a brick and doused in a tangy sweet marinara sauce, and topped with freshly grated Parmesan.

At the end of the meal, our appetites had been satisfied and our plates were only half-empty.

We concluded that the quality of the food matched the quantity. We skipped dessert and left the restaurant with paper bags in hand, looking forward to eating our leftovers later.

EMILY SWEENEY

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