Breaking out of the "chain restaraunt mold"..
I have to say that my expectations are always lower for chain restaraunts. Recipes are handed down from corporate test kitchens and expected to be executed, in exact detail, each time they are made. This isn't always the case for most places but my meal at Carrabba's was pleasantly surprising. Our meals here have always been pleasing but this time around I was truly impressed with the quality.
We started our meal with the fried calamari, which was perfectly cooked, simply kissed by the hot oil until golden brown and tender. Although marinara is not my favorite condiment for calamari it tasted fresh, not canned, and was a lovely way to start the meal.
Our salads came to the table and were well dressed, seasoned properly and loaded with fresh ingredients. In this humble food lover's opinion nothing shows quality like fresh, ripe produce.
Our entrees arrived and the pleasant waitress refilled our drinks and left us to enjoy our meal. My entree, the Sirloin Marsala was tender, perfectly cook to medium rare, and well seasoned. The sauce was rich and hearty with mushrooms and prosciutto. The cavatappi amatriciana was lovely. The bread was warm and buttery. Although I would have prefered the oil mix from rival Johnny Carino's I enjoyed theirs also.
A believer that a meal should never upstage the dessert I found myself excited to view the dessert menu. I was, honestly, a bit disappointed that there was not an option for a brulee but the waitress countered that disappointment by offering us a tray of miniature desserts, a tasting, in shot glasses. It was a fun way to end the meal and we left satisfied. The price was pretty good, not more than $65 for a full meal for two.
Carrabba's has, in some small ways, has changed my perception that a great meal can only come from a privately owned restaraunt. I look forward to our next meal there and recommend them with no hesitation.