Carrabba’s Italian Grill [3/5]
2.5 (50%) 2 votes

I’m not generally big on chain restaurants. By which I mean, I eat at chains only when drug there by a large group or a business associate (business being greater than food in my book). But, after years of wondering if Carrabba’s lived up to the hype of the “best Italian restaurant in Huntsville”, I won a $20 gift card courtesy of a raffle at work. So it was that the hubby and I found ourselves parking on the second floor of the Parkway Place mall parking structure on a Tuesday night.

I was surprised to see that there was a wait on a weeknight, but pleased that it was a short one. They were gracious enough to accommodate my table preference and we settled in to pore over the menu which I was amused to find contained a smattering of Italian words with no translation. (Picchi Pacchiu?) We asked our server for her recommendations and I was a little alarmed at how heavily she pushed the grill. Undeterred, I selected the Mezza Luna Ravioli, which sound like exactly the kind of creamy, hearty winter food I was craving. The hubby must have felt similarly because he ordered the Italian Classics (Chicken Parmesan and Lasagne) and selected more pasta as his side.

Bread and drinks were quick to appear and the drink refills happened so fast as to be magic.

The bread was soft, doughy, and mostly tasteless. Delivered with it was a small plate of “9 herbs and spices” blended with oil. The oil was smooth and moderately strong, a good choice for a dipping oil. The herbs and spices tasted solely of salt although some of the others looked to be parsley and garlic flakes.

The hubby and I had each selected salads with vinaigrette dressings (the meals came with your choice of soups or salads) and they arrived promptly.

Crunchy half moons of celery and thin, strong onion slices shared a bed of mixed greens with mushy cherry tomatoes, decorative carrot shards, and weak Kalamatra olives. Despite being pretossed, I was happy to find that our salads were not drowning in dressing. The vinaigrette was a bit thick but otherwise unremarkable. The hubby was happy to see a restaurant step outside the usual tired “lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot” shtick for the salad but I was less than impressed with the quality of the ingredients.

Our main dishes came up half way through our salads, a bit of timing I find rather annoying as it forces you to reshuffle the table mid dish. Regardless, our sever was pleasant and cheerfully offered us a sprinkling of Romano, which is a nice change of pace from the standard Parmesan.

My ravioli were shaped into small half moons, the pasta was a bit thick where it doubled up, but otherwise tasty and well cooked. The chicken and spinach in the filling were clearly visible but texture-wise, it was all ground down to a mushy sameness. The cheese used in the filling was heavily salty, which, when combined with the salty cream sauce caused the dish to become saltier as I ate, almost to the point of being overwhelming. The small chunks of tomato in the sauce added color more than any real flavor.

The hubby enjoyed his meal (shown at the top of the post) describing the meal as cleanly done. He was happy with the nice thin cut of chicken used for the chicken parmeasan, but also found the food to be a bit heavy on the salt. His side of spiral noodles were served in a spicy red sauce and he was pleased with the kick that they had.

After trying Carrabba’s for myself, I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. It’s average Italian food at rather high prices. I wouldn’t object if dragged back by a group event, but as far as seeking out Italian food on my own? There are better local places.

Total for the meal: $36.40 (Includes two meals and two drinks)

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