Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seafood di Venezia at Carrabba's Italian Grill

As you’ve read from colleagues’ posts, the crew of the PFC set out for some food and fun at our local Carrabba’s Italian Grill. We decided to hit the place on a Wednesday to take advantage of “Wine Wednesdays” which meant that there was $10 off any bottle of wine.

At our table, our waitress Robin recommended several specials to us. One of them caught my ear and I decided to try it out. Enter... the Seafood di Venezia.

This Ventian seafood platter featured “Trout Nocciola” and “Venetian Gamberoni” served with some pan-seared vegetable ravioli and sautéed asparagus.

The “Trout Nocciola was a hazelnut-encrusted filet of trout cooked on a wood-burning grill and then lightly covered with some basil-lemon-butter sauce. I thought that the mild trout flavor was well complimented by the sauce. This was actually my favorite piece of the plate. It was fresh, crunchy, and simply delicious.

The “Venetial Gamberoni” was shrimp stuffed with fresh crabmeat covered with a little lemon butter. This was my second favorite part of the dish. The crab meat and the shrimp came together pretty well. I think I can attribute the great flavor of this combination from the freshness of the seafood. I’ve had something similar to this at some other place in town, and it was a tragedy. This one was right on target. The spices were just right and it wasn’t over cooked.
The vegetable ravioli was par with ones that I have had at Carraba’s before. They were good, but not awesome. It tasted like it was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it and I still can’t.

The asparagus was awesome, but I’m partial to asparagus in any form. It wasn’t overcooked so it actually still had a little crunch when you bit into them. In my humble opinion, that’s the way asparagus should be cooked. Carrabba’s hit the nail on this one.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the “Seafood di Venezia” to anyone. I really enjoyed it and I think I would definitely order it again when I come back. Do check with your server and see if it’s available. According to Robin, the dish was available for a limited time. It if is available, go ahead and try it. Let me know how what you think.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lasagna and Dessert Rosa at Carrabba’s

Last night, as part of a special event, the reviewers here went to Carrabba’s, a chain restaurant that serves Italian food. The restaurant had a casual feel while trying to be formal at the same time. On one side of the restaurant, cooks worked over stoves and grills visible from the main room. Occasionally, a flame or two would catch our attention.

I ordered the lasagna, something of a classic choice for me. I’ve had lasagna from many places, from chains to local places, and this lasagna was average compared to what I’ve had before. The taste wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It did have pieces of sausage that caught me by surprise, but even that was somewhat bland. My biggest complaint with it was that it was small compared to some lasagna I’ve ordered.

After the lasagna, I ordered the Dessert Rosa. It’s a butter cake with several types of fruit layered above the cake and topped with whipped cream. The cake was soft and moist, and the fruit tasted fresh. It was fantastic, and I think that I’ll probably order it if I get the chance to go back to Carrabba’s.

The Location:

Carrabba’s Italian Grill
311 North 9th Avenue
Pensacola, Florida 32501

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Evening at Carrabba's

Someone in a land 'Far Away' has noticed this blog and sent us all gift certificates to Carrabba's Italian Grill. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. It was a nice treat.

So we decided to plan an evening where we'd all go together to review Carrabba's. I had a lot of fun going with the other reviewers and an enjoyable meal.
Upon entering and presenting the gift certificates, we were seated in a booth not far from where we walked into the restaurant. The booth had plenty of room for the four of us.

When it came time to order drinks, I decided my beverage of choice for the evening was going to be Coke.

By the time dinner had come around, I was definitely in the mood for steak. After carefully reviewing the menu in the restaurant (I had also taken a glimpse at the online menu earlier in the day), the decision was between the Sirloin Marsala and the Filet Fiorentina. I ordered the Sirloin Marslala ($18) because I decided I wanted a little more than just an 8 oz steak. I chose the Caesar salad and mashed potatoes to go with it.

I typically would have substituted a different side for the mashed potatoes since most of the places in town only serve garlic mashed potatoes, but the menu made no mention of garlic in these mashed potatoes, so I decided I'd give it a try.

All the food came out in a timely fashion to my satisfaction.

The Caesar salad was quite tasty. It was a healthy portion with fresh tasting green lettuce with just the right amount of dressing.

The steak was very thick and covered in a dark sauce and mushrooms. I ordered the steak medium-rare and it was delivered just as I ordered it.
The description listed on the menu is a "10 oz. USDA Choice center-cut sirloin topped with mushrooms, prosciutto and our Lombardo Marsala wine sauce."

There was a small side of mashed potatoes on the plate. Not a minute after the food was served the manager came by with a plate of mashed potatoes. He said the side of mashed potatoes I received on the plate was a little small, and he also went on to tell us they make their mashed potatoes fresh everyday. The great part was that the potatoes were mashed potatoes and not lumpy potatoes like I've received at other places.

I have to say, the steak was the most tender and juicy sirloin I've had in my life. I really enjoyed it. I liked the mashed potatoes. The plate of mashed potatoes that was brought out to me happened to taste slightly better than the mashed potatoes with the steak because the sauce from the steak was blending in with the mashed potatoes. On a side note, the picture of the steak doesn't exactly due it justice, it looked better in person.

The server checked on us frequently throughout our stay, which I appreciated. She said she happened to notice us taking pictures and offered to take a picture of all of us which turned out rather well. Personally, I don't know how anyone on that side of restaurant Could Have Missed that we were taking pictures with the amount of photos I took. Yes, that photo flash was very bright in that dark restaurant atmosphere.

By the time it came for ordering deserts, I opted out. I had already had more than enough to eat. All the deserts that were shown to us and the ones that were ordered all looked rather tempting.

If you're looking for a great dinner in the evening, I recommend ordering the Steak Marsala when you go to Carrabba's Italian Grill at 311 N 9th Ave in Pensacola, FL.

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Pensacola Food Critic