Thursday, July 12, 2007

Food for Thought: Fazoli’s new menu more Blah than Ahhh

A year ago when I should have written a review on Fazoli’s fast Italian restaurant, I would have given a much favorable view. Being a vegetarian for a few years now, I have come to truly appreciate the few eateries that accommodate my lifestyle. Fazoli’s USED to be one of my favorites.

A couple of months ago, Fazoli’s changed ownership. In turn, everything changed, and not for the better. I used to love the build your own pasta menu. An absolute gem for the meat eaters and vegetarians alike. For $2.99 I could choose whole wheat penne pasta over the less nutritious white in spaghetti, fettuccine or penne. I had the option of five different sauces and I could add meat or veggies for one dollar more. The small portion was more than enough, but if you had a serious hunger, the regular was a very reasonable $3.99. Being so satisfied with this section of the menu, I admit, I rarely ventured outside my usual except to switch up the sauces. My favorite part of the dine-in experience was the complimentary garlic breadsticks brought to my table by a very friendly and often talkative older woman. Whom I am sure loved the interaction with the wide variety of people.

With any regime change there is always a need to “revamp” what was already in place. In the case of the new “Ahhtalian” menu, that meant tossing the build your own pasta option, scrapping the whole wheat pasta, peppers & onions topping and two of five sauce choices, and raising the prices. Now if want spaghetti marinara I have to pay $3.49 for a small serving or $4.49 for the regular. Not to mention, my usual topping of broccoli is now $1.69! To make matters worse, on the 3 occasions I have visited Fazoli’s since the change, I have yet to see the nice old woman with breadsticks once. I certainly hope she did not lose her job, but it would not surprise me. Now if you want more than the one breadstick you get with your decidedly smaller meal, you have to go up to the counter, wait for someone to acknowledge you and ask for more.

I am a habitual carryout menu hoarder, so I dug into my pile of dusty old papers to find the old Fazoli’s menu I knew I had to compare to the new one I acquired on my recent outing. Without much surprise, 95% of the menu prices are more expensive now; the exception being 2 desserts which dropped 20 and 50 cents, however, the third dessert was raised 20 cents in price. As well, the price for whole pizza is down by $1 for cheese only and $2 for one topping. Gone are the Meatball Subs and Chicken Caesar Paninis. Say goodbye to the Deep Dish Pizzas and Pizzarinos. 

Arrivederci fast fresh Italian.

Movie Review: Transformers meet the eye

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Transformers rolled in to theaters over the holiday week.  Staying true to the original cartoon series, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons battle it out over the ever important Allspark, the creator of life…in a cube.

Unfortunately for Earth, the Allspark, and Megatron the leader of the Decepticons, landed in the frosty Arctic Circle many years ago.  Having tracked the Allspark to Earth, but not knowing exactly where, Decepticons of all different shapes and sizes descend upon the military and their intelligence headquarters.  It is up to the Autobots and an unassuming high school kid, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), to find the Allspark first and stop the Decepticons from destroying the Earth.

A little less than meets the eye, the plot was full of holes, but none the less entertaining.  The movie was filled with cheesy non commercials for phones, disks and the most obvious, Chevrolet.  The Autobots had to turn into something right?  The special effects were okay, though they moved a bit fast.  It was hard to tell who was who between the two robot factions in the fight scenes.  The romance that blossomed between nerdy Sam and gorgeous Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) was inevitable and only a touch on the cheesy side.  Sam’s parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) however, provided the much needed comedic refreshment.  If you have two hours to kill, Transformers fits the bill, but wait a few weeks.  It is not worth waiting in line outside the theater for and hour just to get a good seat.

Movie Review: Live Free or Die Hard

What better way to spend a sweltering day before the Fourth than in a nice cool movie theater? And what better movie to see than the fourth installment of the Die Hard series? John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back with a vengeance, wait that was the last movie. Either way, our favorite incredibly unlucky and hard to kill hero is back in true form. Live Free or Die Hard comes at you with full force from the beginning without slowing down for a minute.

With the much needed technology help from Matt Farrell (Justin Long, you will recognize him from the Apple Computers commercials), Detective McClane takes on the very sophisticated internet scammer, and former agent, Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). Car crashes, gunfights, helicopter chases, kidnapping and hand-to-hand-to-foot contact ensue with the ever present comedic relief and wait for it….. The eventual tagline “Yippee Ki Yay…”

The story was well written, though a little predictable. The special effects were amazing even if a little unrealistic. With only a few minor errors, Californians will recognize some areas as not being in DC, Live Free or Die Hard does come together as a great action film. Fast paced, hard hitting and action packed, just the way you like your John McClane.