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Carrabba's Italian Grill


DonRocks
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I love good rustic fare.

Apparently this chain, owned by Outback Steak House, has decided to open an outlet in Reston.

Meet those authentic Italian guys Johnny and Damian. Johnny's grandmother's mother (and grandmother's mother-in-law) were both born in Italy in the 19th century. Johnny says he enjoys the rigatoni campagnolo, while Damian prefers the spaghetti and meatballs, though he astutely points out that "Italian food is much more varied than the spaghetti and red sauce that has come to represent Italian food in America."

Transportation Options to Carrabba's

The preferred method is the ancient horse-drawn cart, but given the restaurant's modern twist on a traditional theme, arriving on a real Italian racing bike is always a propos.

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sounds like olive garden to me

I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.

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This isn't an inidictment on Carrabas alone, but Carrabas (Outback, Macarani Grill, Chili, etc) is why living in the burbs sucks. I tried to eat there once, but I wasn't going to wait 1.5 hours to do so. No way, give me drive thru taco bell before that.

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Interestingly, they aren't open for lunch. I would be willing to give it a try if it were, despite its obvious chain-ness. They would do a huge business if they were.

Bill Russell

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Carraba's is even more baffling than Lauriol Plaza.

Some very probing questions in the Q&A, though:

How do you value the customer and make them feel important at Carrabba's?

-Steve H. Mint Hill, NC

Chris Sadler

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Carraba's is even more baffling than Lauriol Plaza.

Some very probing questions in the Q&A, though:

How do you value the customer and make them feel important at Carrabba's?

-Steve H. Mint Hill, NC

They value the customer based on how much they think they can get him/her to spend at their restaurant.

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Some very probing questions in the Q&A, though:

How do you value the customer and make them feel important at Carrabba's?

-Steve H. Mint Hill, NC

How 'bout this one:

I've got a buddy who is Italian. He would always tell my wife and me what to order because we're not Italian. Do you have to be Italian to know great Italian food?

-Alan V., Buford,GA

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Carraba's is even more baffling than Lauriol Plaza.   

The appeal may be odd, but it's longstanding. For does the Good Book not tell us:

"And Pilate said, 'I have Carabba's and Jesus. Which do you want me to make free for you?' And the people answered, 'Carabba's!'"

Apparently there was some sort of a coupon giveaway going on at the time...

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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sounds like olive garden to me

Trust me - Olive Garden, which sucks, is a delight compared to Carrabba's. I went to one of their locations in Florida a couple of years ago and it was, singuarly, one of the worst meals I have ever attempted to have. Two bites of the salad - done. One bite of the pasta entree - done. Paid check and left to never return.

Staying home and fasting is a better option.

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We went to one last Fall. The entrees were fairly unremarkable. However that vile olive oil that is on the table and poured out by a server onto an app plate for bread dipping was gawd awful. It was the lowest grade and had absolutely no colour or olive flavour. It had a really bad aftertaste.

I think it is weird they grow shrubs on their roof and the overhang. Isn't that a bit heavy on the structure?

What I do clearly remember about that dinner was also connected to the plate of olive oil for bread dipping -- the server was removing plates and sort of drop stacked other plates on top of the olive oil. It of course splashed all over my shirt. :angry:

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Remarkable thread that started with an enigmatic non commital post. I've eaten at the original in Houston on Westheimer which was a local legend before Outback bought them out. Still, despite all of the negative stuff on this thread there are several outstanding dishes by anyone's standards: mussels and pollo Santa Maria among them. The latter is made with sun dried tomatoes, goat cheese, lemon butter and olive oil. It is over the top, fattening and legitimately good by any food snob's definition.

Carabba's also vary from one location to another with Centreville being less than mediocre based on three worthless visits and Reston exemplery, with serious calories invested on a half dozen visits ove rthe past two years. There is absolutely no comparison between this and either Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill, the two obvious competitors. For those who seem to dissent there are reasons that lines are one and one half to two hours long after two + years of being open. This is not Maestro or the Lab; it is very good cheap Southern Italian done better than any other chain in America.

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Carrabas is absolutely awful! I went to the Centreville location, yuck. Just balot of food for not alot, but simply passable.

Try Dolce Vita in Fairfax for a wonderful Italian! And please kiss joe for me! :wink:

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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Sorry, but Dolce Vita at its absolute best couldn't compare to Carraba's. We have been sorely disappointed in two recent visits there. Again, NOT the Carraba's in Centreville which, on the basis of three meals was really quite bad if not actually terrible, but the Carraba's in Reston or elsewhere. These are independently owned and managed restaurants. In Reston the owner is on the property virtually every hour that it is open. It is FAR SUPERIOR to the Carraba's and its absentee owner in Centreville. Frankly, it would be my hope that someone at Outback corporate would read this and do something about the lack of quality control and virtual prostitution of the franchise name in Centreville, VA. It is THAT bad.

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Frankly, it would be my hope that someone at Outback corporate would read this and do something about the lack of quality control and virtual prostitution of the franchise name in Centreville, VA.  It is THAT bad.

I base my earlier comment solely on the Centerville location, which is utterly vile. And yet, there seems to be a 1-2 hour wait on most nights. I despair of humanity... and my parents, who can't get enough of the place! :sad:

Chris Sadler

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Frankly, it would be my hope that someone at Outback corporate would read this and do something about the lack of quality control and virtual prostitution of the franchise name in Centreville, VA. It is THAT bad.

Scary

They really maybe probably don't care....

...

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Slightly OT here:

At Cornell I was friends with a guy from the Romano family (of Romano's Macaroni Grill). He was in the well-regarding School of Hotel & Restaurant Management. I wonder if he was there to learn how to bilk more suburbanites of their hard earned dough or to figure out how to break free and start his own quality establishment.

We aren't in touch anymore (although I'm certain I could track him down easily) so I might just have to start googling to answer this very important question.

Even more OT:

I went to the Romano's in the Raleigh-Durham area...maybe eight years ago? I can't remember a thing about the food because I was too busy drinking most of one of their massive jugs of wine. It's a night that lives in infamy among my friends. I shall never be allowed to forget what I cannot remember.

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We've been (3 or 4 times) to the one in Woodbridge/Dale City. While I agree the food isn't that great, we've never had a really bad meal there, it's just so-so, especially for the price. I think the crowds line up because it's fairly "safe" food, nothing too radical after a day of shopping at Potomac Mills.

But, I would go, sit at the bar, and try to make a meal off of some of the appetizers. The mussels I had there were some of the better ones I've had.

Rick Azzarano

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Their mussels are good and so is a signature dish, Pollo Santa Maria. Remarkably, their filet fiorentina actually has pretty good flavor. Salads are disappointing, pasta not worth mentioning and pizza that despite the wood burning oven is only a step above, say, Pizza Hut. Several specials ARE legitimately good-NOT great, but good. Frankly, for $50 for two with wine and tip Carrabba's is worthwhile and a once every two or three month stop for me. Bonefish Grill is also another Outback owned chain.

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We went to Carrabba's for a friend's birthday and I was unimpressed. I thought that since my friends were so geeked about it that it might be ok. I ordered some sort of spicy seafood pasta dish that was watery and flavorless. 1 mussle, 2 shrimp, and a handful of those teeny-tiny "scallops", thrown in for good measure. Even here, in the heartland, there are dozens of wonderful Italian restaurants with better food and value. Between the two of us, I think we spent around $60, which isn't too bad, but it would have been better spent somewhere else. Somewhere where I didn't have to stand shoulder to shoulder with the minions for an hour, despite having a reservation in place. :angry:

I will give them props for their Sangria tho'! Smooth and spicy. I really enjoyed that portion of the evening.

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I ordered some sort of spicy seafood pasta dish that was watery and flavorless.  1 mussle, 2 shrimp, and a handful of those teeny-tiny "scallops", thrown in for good measure

Sounds like a viscid mess!

Edited by morela (log)

...

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I ordered some sort of spicy seafood pasta dish that was watery and flavorless.  1 mussle, 2 shrimp, and a handful of those teeny-tiny "scallops", thrown in for good measure

Sounds like a viscid mess!

I owe you a dime. :raz:

Actually, it wasn't sticky or slimy... it had some sort tomato and basil "sauce" on it but it was so watered down that you would never know it was there, except for the occasional chunk of tomato or strand of basil.

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I've been asked to post the following from my brother, whose registration hasn't gone through yet:

hi guys... i just got turned on to this site by my sister, a serious food junkie... to all you with complaints here about Carrabba's and specifically the Centreville store, i DO have an association with Carrabba's corporate and have forwarded this entire thread to the folks in Tampa... I must say, I find your overall remarks very distressing.. Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola love food just as much as you do… That passion for cooking and hospitality is what brought them to the attention of PBS, who gave them their own cooking show which is going into its third season, and to thousands of people who think Carrabba’s is the best Italian food they ever tasted. At Carrabba’s Johnny and Damian’s original family recipes are made from scratch daily using the finest ingredients from around the world. Fresh ingredient s are the basis of all the food at Carrabba’s.They have searched the world to find the best marsala grapes from a local family in Sicily for their marsala sauces. Their extra virgin olive oil comes from olive groves that are hundreds of years old in Catalonia, Spain. They chop their garlic fresh every single day, and only use only California fresh garlic from Gilroy because it’s the best. Their sauces, soups, and salad dressings are handmade everyday. There’s no shortcuts, nothing freeze dried or vacuum packed at Carrabba’s. Just good authentic southern Italian food, cooked with a lot of love. To those of you who have enjoyed Carrabba’s, hope to see you again; to those of you with complaints, please contact Carrabba’s directly… you concerns are very important to the company, and we’ll strive to address them. Please visit Carrabba’s website at carrabbas.com to learn more about Johnny and Damian, their heritage, and their commitment to delivering you the best dining experience they can offer.

--alporcini

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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why oh why do we Americans thrive on horrible, souless cooking? And to add insult to injury we STAND IN LINE FOR TWO HOURS TO GET IT?? Please folks, support independants. Not mindless, corporate, lousy, indifferent, unimaginative goop. Whether it be Ruth's Chris/Outback/Olive Garden/TGIfridays or whatever. Support your local restaurant, otherwise all that's left will be 2 hour waits for mediocre to piss poor food and indifferent to surly service.

Edited by sdelgato (log)

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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why oh why do we Americans thrive on horrible, souless cooking?  And to add insult to injury we STAND IN LINE FOR TWO HOURS TO GET IT??  Please folks, support independants.  Not mindless, corporate, lousy, indifferent, unimaginative goop.  Whether it be Ruth's Chris/Outback/Olive Garden/TGIfridays or whatever.  Support your local restaurant, otherwise all that's left will be 2 hour waits for mediocre to piss poor food and indifferent to surly service.

I don't necessarily agree with this at all. In concept, I love to support indepentents. But there is a reason that Carrabba's was turned into a franchise (or is it a chain?). Especially in Italian cuisine and at this price point, what indi restaurants have delivered to you different imaginative non-goop? I've yet to find an indi Italian restaurant in my major metropolitan area, again at this price point, that delivers markedly superior cuisine. Usually, due to the lack of corporate oversight, it's inferior. Especially the breads. And it's never imaginative. That's hard to do when one expects to dine on classically based recipes in these restaurants.

That's why I usually cook this cuisine at home.

I agree with your "stand in line for two hours" point, though.

Edit: I have not dined at the specific Carrabba's location that sparked this thread.

Edited by Lyle (log)

Rice pie is nice.

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I do agree with you about indi Italian and its unfortunate. The point I was trying to make is shunning corporate greed and throwing the little guy a bone... (pardon the pun) Thats all.

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully."

—George W. Bush in Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

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