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Please help me with choosing a birthday menu...

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I'm throwing my mom a surprise 60th birthday dinner party with 45 women attending. I'm a 26 year old who doesn't have an endless budget . I've booked my mom's favorite Italian restaurant for the party. The restaurant has a bunch of different dinner party packages but with 45 people coming I need to go with one of the cheaper packages.

The package I've chosen gives guests their choice of either casear or house salad to start.
Then 2 types of pasta served family style...I'm going with vodka rigatoni and penne and broccoli tossed with garlic and oil.

Now the entree selection is where I need your help. Again, since I'm going with a cheaper package, its nothing fancy, just your usual Italian dishes. But of the 5 selections to choose from, I can only choose 3 and the guests must choose from the 3 selections.

So here are the options:

Chicken Parmigiana
Chicken Marsala
Chicken Piccata
Chicken Francese
Eggplant Rollatine

I'm definitely going with the eggplant, but can't decide which 2 chicken dishes to go with. Please don't suggest asking for another entree option like a fish or veal because that will bring me to the next higher package and at $7 a person more, I can't afford to do that.

I appreciate all your help!!

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  1. I would go with Chicken Parmigiana and Chicken Marsala. I think those are the dishes that most people would order. Just my two cents!

    1. Since the eggplant dish already incorporates a red sauce, I would rule out the chicken parm. Of the 3 left I would choose the marsala and the francese. Both have wide appeal. Piccata sometimes incorporates capers and some people are not fans. Good luck!

      1. Francese and Marsala, Parm is too gloppy, and Francese and Piccata can have similar lemony profiles.

        1. I would go for Chicken marsala and francese, a bit diversification. It is good that you picked the eggplant since some of the guests may not eat meat...

          1. erica - why not discuss this with the restaurant?
            tell them that you have a limited budget (give them a realistic number) and ask them for several options. or, let them do just one set menu with 3 courses? let them do the work for you.
            you're bringing them 45 people. any restaurant ought to be willing to work for a party like that. good luck!

            1. I second the marsala and Francese choices. Most people like one of those. Or maybe if it's not a surprise party, ask your mother what she thinks. She might know the preferences better. Good luck! You're a better daughter than I've ever been:D

              1 Reply
              1. re: Heatherb

                another vote for the Marsala and the Francese to go with the eggplant. You then have 3 different sauces for your guests.
                wonderful thing you are doing for your mother!

              2. I guess the voters in New Jersey do not appreciate Piccata....

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/686764

                1 Reply
                1. re: fourunder

                  Amazing how the responses differ...

                  And it's pretty funny when you realize piccata and francese are almost the same thing...but i think for a large party Francese is a better choice, due to the omission of capers.

                2. Since you already have a tomato dish (eggplant), I would go with marsala and francese.

                  1. I agree. Marsala & Francese

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tgran

                      Thank you all so much, I'm going with Marsala and Francese! You've been such a help!