• Lisa Marie

Carrabba's Italian Grill (Coral Springs, FL)

There is more to going out to eat than just the food, though it should be noted, that it is definitely at the top of the list. But what also matters are the accompanying elements. Décor, ambience, lighting, music and service to name a few. Eating is a full sensory experience, not limited to lifting fork to mouth. The entire environment lends itself to your dining pleasure. The atmosphere is almost just as important as the entrée.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit a Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Coral Springs. As my wife and I exited the car, I saw the beautiful free standing brick building, it had a cozy

outside eating area with a few couples dining alfresco. We entered the restaurant. It was

completely opposite what I thought I was going to be encountering. It was a vast open space.There was warm brown wood throughout, with muted soft colors and welcoming earth tones.The restaurant was large and spacious, but still kept a cozy feel. The booths lined the walls, the tables in the middle of the floor had families and friends all looking very relaxed. In the back was an area where the kitchen was exposed to the dinners. I always love seeing the kitchen, aside from being able to see artisans at work, it raises my trust level on the preparation of the food I’m about to eat. From there we were guided to our seats by the hostess.

Almost immediately after we were seated, our server Ryan approached. He greeted us and let us know he would be with us momentarily. There is something to be said for prompt

acknowledgement. Even if it’s nothing more than a greeting to let you know, that they know, that you are waiting. Shortly after, he returned in high spirits with our menus. My wife perused the menu and even though the stove was in the kitchen, my wife and I were at our table grilling Ryan about the food and wine selections. He answered every question we had; he knocked every curve ball we had out the park. We all laughed and joked as we tried to figure out what to eat on our inaugural visit.

After about 5 minutes of Q & A, we decided on what to get, for starters we ordered the Cozze in Bianco, which were mussels steamed in white wine, with basil and lemon butter; Meatballs in Ricotta, which were 2 meatballs in their pomodoro red sauce with parmesan and Romano cheese along with an order of Calamari with marinara sauce. The mussels were cooked well and the lemon and butter were nice touches. The calamari were good, but the breading was a little heavy. The marinara sauce was nice. The meatballs and ricotta were my faves of the starters. The meatball had good flavor, the cheese was nice, but that pomodoro sauce was amazing! It was rich and full bodied, it was acidic and sweet, it really complimented the cheese and the meatballs well.

Next came our entrees, my lovely wife ordered the Lobster Ravioli, I ordered the Chicken Picatta and the Tuscan Grilled Ribeye 16 oz.! My wife said the raviolis were great! The cream sauce, the texture, the taste were all up to her high standards. Between that and her Caesar salad with anchovies she was in dinner heaven.

Personally, when I came to capers, I was very late to the game. My parents were excellent

cooks growing up. They tried to introduce us to new things, but being kids, if we ate spaghetti it better have meatballs and red sauce on it, anything else was a crime against humanity. It wasn’t until I got into cooking that my palette began to expand. I was willing to try more things in order to get the flavors I was looking for. The first time I had chicken Piccata was at a work event, where we working on a project and the company catered lunch. I took one look at the chicken in a cream sauce with lemon and these green little dots and thought, no thanks, I’ll pass. But my starving stomach disagreed. I took a small amount just to try it, and as if like magic, I fell in love. I had one perfect bite of pasta and chicken and lemon and sauce and CAPERS! I was almost angered that I had lived that long and this was my first encounter with this dish. I say all that to say as soon as I saw Picatta on the menu I knew I had to order it. Needless to say, the decision did not disappoint. The chicken was thinly sliced and moist. The lemon butter sauce was creamy with the tang of citrus from the lemon. And the capers… My only regret is that I ordered a steak as well and had to split my stomach down the middle to accommodate both!

Recently I had a few steaks earlier in the month and I was going to avoid the steak, but Ryan, our excellent server, suggested I try the rib eye. The Man was right! Once again in my head, I was concerned about ordering a steak from a non-steak house. I was floored when I got it. The steak itself was great, tender and soft. It was cooked very well. The best part of it though, was the blackened piece of charred meat from the grill. It created a salty, crusted, charred flavor that was phenomenal! The steak was great, my only issue with it was it was a very fatty piece of meat and some pieces just had a bit too much. Other than that, it was really eye opening. The steak was better than the Picatta! If someone were to ask me where to go for a great steak that’s not overpriced, I would suggest Carrabba’s without hesitation.

When it was all said and done my lady and I had a great night at a place I would have

overlooked but now look forward to returning to try more of their great food! Hopefully their

brilliant and amazing server Ryan will be there to make our visit as wonderful as it was this time again.

Written by Kelvin M. Bayne

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