=" /> The Mile High Eater: Carrabba's

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Barb and I were invited out to Carrabba’s Italian Grill last night and had a pretty good time. The food was good and the atmosphere and seating arrangements made it feel more romantic than a lot of the higher end spots we have been to lately.


Looking over the menu there was of course the standard Italian restaurant fair but also a few things that I had not seen before but I will get into that a bit later. When coming in we noticed a promotion they were having where if you buy a bottle of wine with your dinner on Wednesday night, you get a free appetizer and they send whatever is left in the bottle home with you.
We were seated promptly and as we were reviewing the menus, our server Tim came over and introduced himself and pointed out a few things about the restaurant and took our drink orders. He also brought us over some bread and a plate filled with spices, he said what was all in it but all I remember was garlic, pepper, oregano but there were others.


I found that I really liked this variation on the plain olive oil or just the garlic and olive oil I have had in other places and found myself eating several pieces of bread because of it. Barbara was not as much of a fan being more of a bread purist and our server was quick to bring over some butter when I mentioned this. For a drink I ordered a Sangria which I have not had before (as I have said before neither of us drink much or often).


I really enjoyed the taste of this drink and even Barb had 2 sips which for her is a sign she liked it. For our appetizer we choose to do the Antipasti Platter.


What it included was Fried Calamari, Bruschette of the day, and Mozzarella Marinara. It came with 2 sauces which I found to be particularly good. One was a marinara sauce and the other was another red sauce that had caprino cheese added in and this I really loved. But, Barb found it to be a bit strong. One thing of note that I found out that Carrabba’s makes their sauces in house daily and you can definitely taste it. The appetizer plate was all cooked very well and tasted good but honestly it’s pretty hard to screw up fried cheese and garlic bread. However, fried calamari can easily turn into a rubber mess but theirs was well cooked and had a great texture.

For our main courses Barbara chose the Lasagna off the regular menu.


It was a very generous helping and had tons of cheese with a very tasty sauce. Barb found it to be a bit too cheesy both in flavor and in smell. I think I have mentioned before that her sense of smell is far more sensitive than mine and strong smells can really take away the enjoyment for her. As for me CHHEESSSE MMMM GOOD, yes you may call me “Wallace” I thought it was very good and to me there can never be enough gooey wonderful cheese.

For my main course, I had a tough choice there were 2 plates on special that looked great to me. The first was Seafood di Venezia. It is a duo of succulent flavors featuring Trout Nocciola and Venetian Gamberoni which are both prepared on Carrabba’s signature wood-burning grill. Trout Nocciola is a hazelnut-encrusted filet of trout, accented with julienned tomatoes and a basil-lemon butter sauce. Venetian Gamberoni is shrimp generously stuffed with fresh crab meat and drizzled with a hint of lemon butter. That is word for word from the menu. The second was Piatto di Pollo. It features two chicken dishes on one plate, Carrabba’s signature Chicken Bryan and its newest recipe, Chicken with Port Wine Sauce. Chicken Bryan is grilled chicken with fresh goat cheese, basil, sundried tomatoes and lemon butter sauce. Chicken with Port Wine Sauce is a reduction of Fairbanks Port Wine, apples and figs blended to make an aromatic and flavorful sauce. Ok, forgive me for quoting the menu verbatim but wanted you to see why the choice was hard. I decided after much back and forth to go with the Chicken.


The Chicken Bryan was good and of course for me adding cheese to anything is a winner, however the Chicken with Port Wine Sauce - now that was YUM. It is the dish that you think about afterword and want a bit more of. It tasted a little like a very good BBQ sauce with flavors that just excited the palate. Both Barb and I agreed that this dish would have been at home at any of the more expensive restaurants we had visited in the last few months. And when I make my way back to Carrabba’s if this item is still on the menu, I will be trying it again.

We were neither of us able to finish our meals as they are very generous with portions and we really wanted to try to save room for dessert. Tim boxed up our food for us and it came in a brown bag that had a saying on it that I thought was funny.


And with that in mind we asked about the desserts and what we decided on was the following fun flight of desserts.


We shared this, of course, as it was a lot of dessert but the spoon war we had dueling for the individual pieces was epic. From right to left: Chocolate Coconut Mousse with pecans very yummy had a great rich taste that made you want to dive into it. Cannoli -after the very rich moist mousse this tasted a bit dry to us but I came back after a bit and liked it a lot more tasted just like its name sake. Third was Zabaglione - another big yum to me. The best way I can describe it is it tasted like very moist strawberry shortcake. Next was Dessert Rosa. It reminded us of a Banana Crème Pie with Strawberries. Hard to beat that. Tiramisu was next and Barb was not a fan of this one really and for that I was happy as I loved it and wanted another 2 or 3, though I would have probably burst. Finally the last one was Espresso. However, to be honest I didn’t taste it at all and the flavors were so delicate that it left almost no impression on me, not that it was bad but with five other treats there, this one just didn’t do it for either of us.

All in all we had a wonderful meal at Carrabba’s and would return the next time we are in the mood for some affordable Italian fare. And for both of us we liked their dinner menu better than either one of their main competitors. This is a great place to take the family and to just enjoy a very good Italian meal with all the normal favorites and a few surprises thrown in. And just as we were leaving, the waiters sang “Happy Birthday” in Italian to a customer nearby. That was a very nice touch.

Numbers and Such. First of all the specials that I mentioned are in place through September - that’s both the food and the wine special from what I understand. The total cost of our meal was $63.00, including tip, tax etc. and we left with enough food for left over dinner the next night. The Dessert we had was $13.00 but you can break those up and the cost would be $2.50 each. Carraabba’s website is www.carrabbas.com.

As always thanks for stopping by and if you have any questions or comments please let us know.

Barb and Jonathan

A bit of a post note: In the comments for this review we have been twice asked about our rating or lack there of for this post. We did not give this a numerical score due to the fact that even though we did enjoy our meal it was plain and simple not in the same league as other places we have visited and definately not close to such great places like say Mizuna and to compare it to such would just not work at all. However we felt we should include it in here because we want to include every non fast food place we go to not just the show stoppers.
Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. Hmmm, I wonder if Carrabba's is liked better by men than by women. Like I mentioned before, my husband loves the place and I'm not the biggest fan though it is alright. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Did I overlook the rating you gave it?

  2. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for stopping by. Jonathan and I talked about your comment and we're not 100% sure why men like Carrabba's more. For me, the turn-off was the overpowering smell of the food (where Jonathan liked that a lot).

    We also didn't give Carrabba's a rating like we've done for the fine dining restaurants. It's like comparing apples and oranges. :)

  3. Pardon the snark, but what a culinary comdown from Mizuna to Carrabba's, i.e., from one of Denver's most revered independent restaurants to a Texas-based chain!

    I notice you didn't give Carrabba's a numerical review -- maybe because they made a chicken dish with something that tasted like BBQ sauce -- not too surprising since the Carrabba's chain operates under the same umbrella as the Outback Steakhouse chain and one sauce fits all.

    Claire @ http://culinary-colorado.blogspot.com

  4. Claire

    Oh we all get a bit snarky now and then:) And the reason we did not give a numerical rating is exactly for that reason that Mizuna and Carrabba's are not at all in the same food arena just as I did not give a numerical rating to the baldpate. The sauce however was pretty darn good chain or no chain.