We went to Carrabba's yesterday before heading out of town for a concert. We were there at a decidedly downtime @4pm right after they opened.
The decor is Italian with a rustic twist. Everything was extremely clean; including the restrooms. A+! (Don't you hate it when restrooms are disgusting?! Makes you wonder about the kitchen; so, a clean restroom is a good statement.)
I wish I had gotten the name of our server; she was very good. Pleasant, smiling, and knew about the menu items; except for wine. They have a fairly large wine list for a chain restaurant and we're into wines. When we asked questions about which Chianti she could recommend, she didn't know but brought us a wine wheel to look at. That's the only downside... we know about wine pairings and general characteristics of certain types of wines at this point so the wine wheel wasn't really what we needed. I think perhaps asking the bartender or another server about this may have been more helpful although she certainly made an effort. Still, it's not really a drawback as I was just looking more for a recommendation or opinion to help me form my own. We skipped the Chianti and chose quartines of the house red (surprisingly quite good: fruity and not quite light but not heavy; very slightly dry) and the Centine - also an interesting choice (strong & fruity without being too dry). FYI quartines are @ 1.5 glasses.
Throughout, our server was attentive, got the orders right, and brought frequent water refills. A nice touch is that after we tried the house red, she brought us clean glasses to try the Centine.
We were celebrating, so we went all out: zucchini fritte for sharing, Pollo Caprino for me, The Jonny for him. Coffee and cannoli for dessert.
The zucchini fritte is matchstick fried zucchini with an aioli-type sauce. It wasn't greasy and had a flavorful, light breading. The sauce was an interesting option (as usually fried zucchini tends to be served with marinara) and it was equally flavorful without beng so heavy as some aioli-type sauces are.
The Pollo Caprino is a definite must-try - grilled, herbed chicken stuffed with red pepper, zucchini, and goat cheese. You could taste the wood-grilling and each of the flavors stood out. I even liked the goat cheese as there was enough to lend flavor without being too overpowering. My husband enjoyed the Jonny - sirloin marsala steak and Chicken Bryan - the steak was well-cooked, juicy. The sauce had a subtle marsala flavor without being too salty. He also enjoyed the flavors of the Chicken Bryan although he can't recall a specific flavor he liked.
The house coffee was pretty good; smooth and not bitter. To me, cannoli should have a crisp, light shell without oiliness and a rich smooth filling that tastes of ricotta. Bonus points for cinnamon in the dough. They got the shell perfect but the filling fell flat for me: smooth, some chocolate chips but not the lovely and rich, ricotta flavor. The pistachios on the ends were a nice touch.
Meals came with salad or soup. Some came with sides also. I would definitely pass on the green parm dressing - it needs to decide if it's going to be parm or ranch. The flavors don't complement. I had the cavatappi amatriciana as my side and it's worth the calories. Not overly creamy and a nice touch of pancetta & slightly smoked flavor - would be an excellent main dish honestly...
Total (before our $50 gift card) was $75 or $78ish, that's with 2 quartinos of wine, an app, 2 entrees, and a dessert and coffee. There are many options here: salads, flatbread pizzas, apps, various pastas, so you can easily make this a more affordable meal. We just went for broke as we were celebrating. :)
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