06 April 2008

Carrabba's Italian Grill

Okay, okay, you caught me. I was eating at a chain restaurant. But somebody has to dine there so my vegetarian reader base (both of them, in fact) can know for certain that Chain X offers a good or bad amount of vegetarian options. Chain X for today is Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Carrabba's in now part of the Outback restaurant empire, although it started out as a family operation. They feature classic Italian dishes in a relatively informal setting.

Surprisingly, Carrabba's had a limited selection of vegetarian eats. Italian restaurants are usually a great source of vegetarian (though rarely vegan) eats. Carrabba's menu offered bruschetta, breaded zucchini, a few pasta dishes and a few pizzas that were free of dead animal content. The server was helpful in identifying all of the vegetarian items on the menu for me.

The house salad was served with a creamy Italian dressing (***Special note: Even though they told me it was, this item might not be vegetarian. Stay away from the creamy parmesan dressing and make sure you have a server who understands that fish parts are, indeed, not vegetarian friendly!) Mixed greens were served with carrots, onions, pepperoncini and black olives.

My entree was manicotti. The tomato sauce and the ricotta filling were nice, but the grated Romano cheese tasted old with a fairly homogenized character that typically doesn't come from freshly grated cheese. I might have been better off ordering the other pasta dish or the pizzas.

The beverage menu features about 10 specialty cocktails, a pedestrian wine list and Peroni beer on draft. I'm drawing a line in the sand here--Italians should stick to making wine and leave the brew craftsmanship to their German and Belgian counterparts. We'd all be better off because of it. The wildberry cooler, on the other hand, was very good, with fizzy hints of cranberry, blackberry and raspberry.

My pictures were fairly limited. If you want to see Carrabba's firsthand, I'd imagine that you should be able to find one within driving distance without too much trouble. Check out the pictures below.



Anonymous said...

Shut up, Peroni rocks.

Anonymous said...

I work at Carrabba's, and the creamy parm dressing has anchovy paste in it, just to let you know.