September 17, 2011

Carrabba's - New Cucina Casuale menu

I love Carrabba’s! Not just because that’s where me and my boyfriend went on our first real date, and not just because it’s fresh Italian cuisine just 5 minutes from home. I love Carrabba’s for being good to their customers, for not being the McDonalds of Italian food (ahem, Olive Garden), and for being absolutely delicious!

I am a member of the Amici Club at Carrabba’s. If you are not yet a member of this fabulous club, what are you waiting for?? Last July, I was invited to a dinner and wine pairing event, hosted by Fabio Viviani of Top Chef. Imagine my shock when I saw an invitation to an event featuring one of my favorite Top Chef (Top Scallop) contestants of all time! The meal, the wine, and the company were amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to attend an Amici Club event, so I was pleasantly surprised to open my e-mail and find out about a tasting for the new Cucina Casuale menu.

What a welcome! 

This was a lunch event at my local Carrabba’s. The restaurant was open only to guests of the Amici Club. I attended the event solo but enjoyed the good company at my table. My tablemates enjoyed complimentary sangria while I had a classic Coca Cola. We were served the classic Carrabba’s fresh baked bread with olive oil and herb dipping sauce. Delicious as always! And if the bread isn’t reason enough to go to Carrabba’s, I am not sure what else is! (Except maybe dessert… stay tuned.)

Our tasting started off with Ribs Agrodolce. These are not your traditional BBQ ribs! The baby back ribs are braised in a herb and red wine sauce, and then cooked on a wood fire grill with a sweet and sour glaze. These were great, a little sweet but savory. The ribs were served with housemade potato chips. I believe our server said these could be ordered as an appetizer or a full entrée.

Next we tried the 2 new ciabatta sandwiches. First was the Grilled Fish Ciabatta sandwich, featuring wood fire grilled tilapia with baby arugula and tomato basil vinaigrette. The flavor of the fish was excellent. I am a big arugula fan, and a big fish fan, so this obviously won me over. Next was the Chicken Parmesean Ciabatta. Classic Chicken Parm served on Ciabatta bread. These sandwiches were served with wood fire grilled vegetables, but come with housemade potato chips usually.
Grilled Tiliapia Ciabatta (left) & Chicken Parm Ciabatta
Finally, it was time for dessert. My absolutely favorite part of any meal! There are no desserts specific to the Cucina Casuale menu, which is fine with me, because the traditional Carrabba’s desserts are amazing! We had a choice of dessert shooters: Tiramisu, Dessert Rosa, and Chocolate Coconut Mousse. How can they force a girl to decide? After much internal deliberation, I chose the Dessert Rosa. On the regular menu these mini (guilt free) desserts are just $2.25 each or 6 for $12.

The next time you are in the mood for fresh Italian food, stop by your neighborhood Carrabba’s. And while you’re online, visit their website to sign up for The Amici Club. I just might see you at the next club event!
Check out Carrabba's for the fabulous specials!

Carrabba's Italian Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. VERY VERY VERY well written!!! It makes me miss Carrabbas. :( There's not one close by up here, but the next one I see is fair game. I happen to be partial to the Chicken Bryan or the Pasta Weesie...and of course the Creme Brulee when they have it :)