The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Carrabba’s Italian Grill a Culinary Delight

Thursday, 9:30 p.m.A young, conservatively dressed hostess rushed to open the door for us, welcoming our party with a genuine smile into the year-old, bustling Carrabba’s Italian Grill on High Point Road.

A ten-minute wait aroused the senses. From the open kitchen, subtly facing the center of the dining room, came traditional, hearty Italian aromas of slow-cooked red sauce, garlic, and rising focaccia bread.

We were not given pagers and no one mispronounced our party’s name over a loudspeaker when our table was ready. Instead, another pleasant hostess approached our party and led us through a packed dining room to our table.

We were seated among a sea of tables, but elbow room was generous and the noise level was comfortable. The center of the dining room where we sat was filled with tables big enough for four, while the walls were lined with more intimate booths.

Almost immediately after we were seated, our waiter introduced himself. “Steve” treated us attentively, but not obtrusively. Chatty small talk was kept to a minimum.

The specials were described, our orders were taken, and we were presented with an appreciable wine list.

A good range of white wines were offered, including Copperidge Chardonnay and Zinfandel ($4.75 per glass; $18 per bottle) and Beringer Napa Chardonnay ($8 per glass; $31 per bottle). The list of reds was extensive, ranging from Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($5 per glass, $19 per bottle) to Chianti from Ruffino ducale Riservia of Italy (served only by the bottle at $38). We decided on Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir ($27 per bottle).

The wine was presented to us without fanfare, but we were offered a tasting before full glasses were put on the table.

With our wine came a basket of hot, steaming bread and a plate of thick, pungent olive oil garnished with spices for dipping. Slices were thick slabs of meaty white bread with just enough crust and were completely devoured by the time our appetizer arrived.

We started with the Antipasti Platter ($6.99), “a delicious combination of house favorites: calamari, bruschette Carrabba, and mozzarella marinara.” The calamari was lightly battered, crisp, and airy. Mozzarella marinara (mozzarella sticks) was cooked through, and melted on the tongue. Bruschette Carrabba was thickly crusted garlic toast piled high with fontina cheese, mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato and pesto with pine nuts.

Soup or salad, which accompanied all of our main courses at no additional cost, came a little too soon after the appetizer.

The “soup of the day,” Minestrone, left something to be desired – namely flavor. It was advertised as “a homemade, hearty vegetable soup”; we asked our waiter for more detail. He explained that the ingredients were chicken stock, carrots, celery, tomatoes, mezzi tubetti pasta, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and green beans. What we received were bowls of awkwardly large chunks of cabbage and carrots, and canned whole tomatoes in a watered-down chicken stock.

You should not have to bring a fork and knife into the equation when it comes to soup.

Salads were carelessly presented, our first hint that we were indeed at a chain restaurant. The romaine was crisp, however, and the Roma tomatoes seemed to be just that (not under-ripe slicer tomatoes passed off as the former).

We were allowed nearly ten minutes to digest our appetizers before the main courses arrived. Two servers brought four plates silently and placed them before the correct diner without prompting.

Pollo Rosa Maria ($14.49) was a large, “fire-roasted chicken-breast stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto” smothered with mushrooms and a creamy lemon-basil sauce. Garlic mashed potatoes, a complementary side dish, were whipped lighter than air and had just the right touch of garlic. One didn’t leave anxious for a breath mint.

Pasta Carrabba ($11.99) was perfection in pasta. Bite-sized chunks of juicy, grilled chicken, sauted mushrooms and peas were tossed with fettuccine alfredo in a creamy sauce thick enough to coat the noodles, but not too heavy as to weigh the dish down.

Mezzaluna ($10.49) was a hearty plate of cooked-through ravioli pillows bursting with chicken, ricotta, and spinach in a medium-bodied, creamy red sauce.

Lasagne ($10.99), boasting “a house favorite, just like mamma used to make,” was a layer skyscraper of noodles, meat, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, and thick marinara sauce.

The temptation to lick the plates clean was hampered only by our full and satisfied bellies.

Steve and a team of silent busboys quickly cleared our table and offered water, coffee, deserts all around.

We split a Sogno di Cioccolata (Chocolate Dream, $4.99) easily between the four of us. A thick fudge brownie “brushed with Kahlua, crowned with chocolate mousse, whipped cream and chocolate sauce” was wonderfully overbearing in chocolate by the bite.

Our total bill (before taxes) was $86.94. At roughly $22 per person, we had enjoyed classic Italian cuisine in a warm, casually upscale environment, with excellent service. The same hostess who graciously showed us in also held the doors for us as we left.

Carrabba’s slogan, “Non c’e amore piu’ sincero di quello del cibo” (there is no love more sincere than the love of food) might be better phrased: “There is no love more sincere than the love of great Italian food at reasonable prices.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *