The experience

It was once again Chef Mina’s cooking class this evening, so we’d be eating in West Plano.  In order to ease our pocketbook pain, we’ve resorted to The Best Of Guide that came in the mail and we also purchased an Entertainment book for $20.  So we’d already located Prego Express Italian some days earlier.  Fate nearly intervened to destroy our plans once more.  Having last used a coupon a couple of days earlier, Grace could no longer locate the book.  She was very eager to use a coupon so we nearly did not go.  At the last minute she discovered the book in the back of the car.  Benji was out and about with the Lolo and Lala so we were down to three for the evening.

Prego Express Italian

We arrived after cruising around the strip mall for a bit.  We drove separate and both ended up looking a bit before we found it.  There were several table on the patio and the inside was small but well decorated with cute red/white checkered tablecloths.  You order at the counter so we grabbed a to go menu and sat down to decide.  I suggested an appetizer of Fried Ravioli or Calamari but Grace said she wasn’t in the mood for Calamari.  Too late as Mina had heard calamari and said she wanted it.  Mina decided on Penne with Marinara. Grace decided on Spaghetti and Meatballs.  I went for the special, Baked Ziti

Happy Mina

I went up to place the order and first asked if the calamari was good.  The employee said she liked it a lot so I went ahead with that.  I then ordered Grace’s and was met with questions on the number of meatballs and type of salad.  I relayed the first question but then Grace decided to ask about the dressing and other issues.  She settled on the house salad with the homemade Italian dressing.  I then ordered Mina’s and my entrees.  I opted for the house salad as well.

House Salad

I sat back down with the ladies and we waited for the food.  Very shortly the salads and fresh rolls arrived. Mina dug into the bread a located the butter.  I ate a couple and began on my salad when then calamari arrived.  Mina dove into this, too.  We managed to get through about half of the plate before our entrees arrived.

Calamari

Everyone enjoyed their food as we discussed our days and plans for the weekend.  It’ll be a busy one with Mina’s birthday party and the State Fair of Texas.  I finished mine up and helped cut up Mina’s meatball which she hadn’t yet touched.  Yes, she eats that slow and I eat that fast.  She did eat a good amount of calamari and noodles so I let her off the hook after a few bites of meatballs.  On the way out we noted the lively music over the outdoor speakers on the patio and decided we should have sat outside.  Oh well, maybe next year.

The food

Baked ZitiPenne with MeatballsSpaghetti with MeatballsThe food was much better than I expected.  My expectations were quick, fast food type Italian but it turned out that they made their rolls, sauces and dressing in-house.  The penne was actually al dente and the marinara was excellent.  The rolls where warm, fresh and buttery.  Grace mentioned they reminded her of the Parker House Rolls we first got in Nashville.  The calamari was very good as well.  The breading was crisp and light and the meat was tender, not chewy.  The only complaint about the salads were that they were too big. Grace and Mina enjoyed the meatballs and both said they thought the pasta was excellent as well.

The service

It is a walk up counter but they do come around and bring you your food, drink refills, and more bread. The staff was very helpful with the food choices and kept our bread and drinks refilled.  They even cleared plates which is sure to please Grace.  I’d have left a bigger tip when I paid up front if I’d known they would be doing this much.

The kids

There are no crayons or kids activities, but the food is pizza and pasta which is very kid friendly.  Starting at $2.95 for pasta is a steal, also.  The service is fast so you shouldn’t have a problem with boredom.  The casual atmosphere helps, too.

The rest

When I first met up with Grace and Mina at the restaurant, Mina gave me a piece of a butter cookie she had made in class.  I took a bit and it was perfectly soft and gooey.  I said it was great and Grace said she agreed and didn’t catch the teacher throwing them all away before it was too late!  The teacher thought they were underdone.  Grace and I agree that slightly underdone cookies are the only way to eat them.  These were perfect.  We’ll be using the recipe to make chocolate chip cookies for Santa.  Santa will like them underdone too!

Total cost:$29.83

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