I Love This Place! Carrabba's Italian Grill is my favorite "chain" Italian place. They have really got it together. My first visit was to their location in Jacksonville, Florida before any appeared in the South Florida area and I just couldn't wait for them to open down here.
I've been to several area locations and they have the main ingredient for a well managed chain restaurant: consistency; quality consistency. Excellent tasting foods, good service and at a reasonable price.
This past weekend Michelle and I took a short trip to the west coast of Florida. By the time we checked into the hotel and unpacked it was about 9:30pm
and we still hadn't eaten dinner. I remembered passing a Carrabba's only a few blocks from the hotel so we drove over.
At 9:40pm there were only a few diners remaining but the friendly staff assured us that they accepted patrons until 10:00pm so there would be no problem having enough time to eat. We were seated immediately, presented with menus and greeted by Bob, our server, who took a drink order. I ordered a glass of their House Italian Sangria. He was back in a flash and after he set the drinks on the table we ordered our dinners.
Next came a half loaf of their "fresh out of the oven" Italian bread accompanied by a mixture of "special herbs and spices" with the most delicious tasting olive oil for dipping. (I wish I could find out where to get their olive oil.) We decided to split an entree and each get a bowl of soup. Michelle teetered back and forth between chicken noodle and minestrone and our very adept server brought both for her to sample. She preferred the chicken noodle. My visits to Carrabba's are never complete without their Sausage and Lentil soup. It is the "best" soup I have ever had anywhere, other than my own pasta fagioli. I also opted for the house Italian salad.
It was interesting to note that at several of the Carrabba's I have been to in the past the Sausage and Lentil soup is not always available. At this location, on Dale Mabry in Tampa, it is available everyday.
We shared the chicken trio as our entree selection, accompanied by a side of penne pasta with marinara sauce. Originally, it was only offered as a "special," but it has gained a regular spot on the menu. Three boneless chicken breasts: chicken marsala, chicken Bryan, and Pollo Rosa Maria. All were prepared excellently and we thoroughly enjoyed them.
We were the last patrons and they were closing around us but that didn't stop our server, Bob, from recommending dessert and coffee. He was very personable and interesting. We thanked him, but declined.
I don't think that the service could be any better! Kudo's to Bob and the rest of the staff at Carrabba's on Dale Mabry for making our visit a Five Star Event.
If you are ever in the Tampa area I would suggest a trip to Carrabba's Italian Grill. Get the Sausage and Lentil soup and tell 'em you read about it here.