Posted on | July 7, 2010 | 2 Comments
While I don’t normally review chain restaurants, we were recently invited to attend one of Carrabba’s “Amici Club” complimentary events. Remembering how much my mom loves this restaurant, and that I hadn’t been here in years, I thought “why not?”. I remembered them being better than other Italian chain restaurants. I’ve never particularly cared for Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill.
We arrived right on time, and found a group of people already seated in one room in the back, and were asked to sit wherever and with whoever we liked.
We chose a large table in the back, where we found pre fixe menus already placed. We were to get ‘sample’ sizes of each of the menu items, to include 2 appetizers, 3 pastas, and 3 desserts. Oh, and two wine pairings. Here’s what we had:
Calamari with marinara sauce: I don’t normally care for fried calamari, as most I’ve tried have been greasy, and way too rubbery for my liking. This one was actually quite good. The batter was light and had a nice, mild seasoning. The calamari did have a nice bite to it, but wasn’t like chewing on a tire.
The first 3 offerings were paired with a very nice, light Chilean Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc.
Next up was the fried zucchini with roasted garlic aioli. The server told us “it’s all about the sauce”, and she was right! Quite a tasty sauce. The fried zucchini was quite good too. Again, light, and also well seasoned, and cut much like french fries.
In between courses was a crisp Mediterranean salad:
The first pasta, and my favorite, was the Tag Pic Pac. I love simple pastas, if they’re done well, of course! This pasta was freshly made, and you could really taste it. The sauce was also quite fresh; tart, with just the right amount of garlic and basil. We were told they don’t use a premade sauce on this, and put the dish together once it’s ordered.
Next was the Penne with fennel sausage pomodoro, caramelized onions and fresh ricotta. While I don’t think this pasta was freshly made, it was cooked al dente, and had a nice sauce with it. The sausage was not as tender as I would have liked, but had just enough fennel without overpowering the meat. The ricotta added a nice, creamy and cool touch to the dish.
The last few offerings were paired with a nice, mild Ducarossa Chianti Riserva.
The last pasta was the Pasta Weesie, fettuccine alfredo with shrimp sauteed in garlic lemon butter and white wine sauce, with sauteed mushrooms and scallions. I’m always a bit leery to order fettuccine at restaurants, especially chain restaurants, as it tends to arrive swimming in a pool of cream, which I find a bit disgusting. This one had quite a thick sauce, but it was lightly tossed in it, and wasn’t drowning in anything. Oh, and it was quite flavorful. This pasta was also freshly made, and the shrimp were fresh, and well seasoned and cooked. A nice version of the dish.
Lastly was the desserts; a deconstructed cannoli, chocolate coconut mousse, and ‘Rosa”. I think the Rosa was my favorite. It consisted of cake layered with fresh berries, a mousse like cream, topped with whipped cream. Very light and refreshing. The other two were also good, but a bit heavy, and we were quite full by this point!
All in all, I enjoyed all of the offerings. Everything was tasty, well cooked, and surprisingly fresh tasting. They gave us a ridiculous amount of food; so much that we started to ask for just one of each to split, and we still didn’t finish them!
The service was wonderful, and it was a fun event to attend. I’m definitely more likely to return to Carrabba’s in the future…
8771 W Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89117