The experience

Carrabba'sWell, Ogre actually wanted to try Brio’stoday in Allen, but after looking at the website (are you proud?  we actually did some research!) I was a little scared off by the prices for a regular old Wednesday night.  I suggested Carrabba’s instead.  I did not see that Ogre had switched over to the Carrabba’s website to compare prices and so when I look over, I said, “Oh, look at that, Brio’s has Pasta Weesie too!  Hey!  Their menu looks just like Carrabba’s!  It’s like an expensive Carrabba’s!” (The pricing Ogre was saying at the time was ~5 bucks more).  Ogre looked at me just busted out laughing.  Not with me.  At me.  That’s the love of my life right there.  Anyway, after some hemming and hawing, we headed out to Carrabba’s with the kids and Dusty in tow.

When we arrived, we were seated right away.  In fact, it seemed a lot more empty than usual.  Ogre wondered if his beloved Chuy’s was “stealing” business.  We were seated in a booth.  Ogre asked the lady that showed us to our table if she could do all the nit-picky stuff we prefer like butter with the bread and the calamari for an appetizer.  I swear she said that “Shane” will be your server tonight.  I told Ogre that wasn’t our waitress and he looked at me like I was crazy and told me it was.  When she returned with our drinks and other requested items, I asked her if she was our waitress and she replied yes.  I guess I am crazy.

Benji loves butterBread makes our kids happy so we served some up for them and then some for ourselves because the hot sourdough bread they serve is tasty and so is their butter!!  The calamari came out in record time and we emptied a small bowl to give Benji his own.  We reminded Mina not to double dip (she is afterall slightly sick) and all ate some calamari.  Benji saw the small bowl of butter and wanted that, too, but I wouldn’t give it to him so he started to pitch a fit.  We ended up hiding it on the bench with us where he couldn’t see it. 

Mina was given her small piece of dough and was earnestly working it out into a small round crust.  We gave it to our waitress to make a cheese pizza.

Mina making pizza

Benji then discovered that he could dip his bread in the tomato sauce and busied himself with that.  Everything to him is a vehicle for the sauce.  Here he is asking for “mo mo yah.”

No mo

 

Ogre and my salads came out and Benji stole a crouton, but didn’t seem to like it so that nasty little crouton was put back on my plate.  Luckily, I don’t eat the croutons in the first place, so I didn’t have to worry about eating an extra soggy crouton.   I did have to worry about the trail of used sauce vehicles. After he had licked the item clean, I looked down to find a nice collection of used vehicles in front of me.  GROSS!!!!!!!

Trail of tears

 

Next out were our pizzas and pasta.  Mina, all the while, was busy with the activity booklet they give the kids and plaing tic tac dough with Dusty. 

Mina coloring

Ogre and I split up our dinners to share and Benji picked up a piece of pizza but only waved it around before putting it back on my plate.  I gave a bite of canneloni that I thought was cooled off and he cried when I gave it to him very briefly I assume because it was still a little hot.  Bad mommy. 

As we were eating up our pizzas, Mina’s mini-pizza came out.  She picked it up and said, ”Order up!”  It was flaming hot, so Ogre cut it up for Benji.  At first, he didn’t care for it, but he ended up liking it very well!!  When we told Mina that Benji liked her pizza, she said, “Thank you.”  Sweet Mina.

You pizza sir!

Benji loved Tata's pizza

Next up: desserts.  I decided to try their cheesecake and would share that with Dusty.  Ogre got the John Cole (vanilla ice cream with caramel and candied pecans).  The kids, of course, loved it.  Mina even liked the cheesecake.  Benji liked the cheesecake when it was covered in melted ice cream from his bowl, but not so much straight off the plate. 

While Mina finished dessert and the guys finished their wine, Benji and I went over to the waiting area so he could move about and play.  Once they were done, we all headed out to get home.

 

 

The food

The food here is above average to excellent for good old Italian food.  We’ve eaten here many times, so I’ve definitely had quite a few menu items and everything I’ve had has been good…but there are my favorites.  I ordered one of them tonight, but another great suggestion is the Mezzaluna and for ladies (or men, I guess) with small appetites, you can get a half order!

CalamariWe always order calamari, mainly for Mina.  Benji has also become quite the fan.  It is very very good here.  It’s not chewy or too bready.  It’s very crisp, actually.  Their red sauce is also “light” it’s not a heavy marinara, it’s more like a true tomato sauce. 

 

Quattro FormaggioChicken CannaloniTonight, Ogre and I ordered pizza and pasta to share amongst the two of us.  We also each ordered a Caesar Salad to start, which we HEART BIG TIME here.  It’s got that subtle anchovy flavor and nice pungency!  YUM!!  After we had our fill of our salad, we get to eat a couple of other favorites.  The Quattro Formaggi Pizza has obviously four cheeses, but what really makes it so gosh darn good is the sun dried tomatoes -the sweetness melds perfectly with the cheeses!!  I was thinking tonight that next time I’m going to order extra tomatoes….Anyway, the Chicken Spinach Canneloni is also very good.  It’s a creamy red sauce (more red than cream) that has a nice mild sweetness to the red sauce and the chicken, spinach and cheese with it is very good -reminds me of the Mezzaluna slightly. 

 

Margherita PizzaDusty ordered the Margherita Pizza.  He did not mention what he thought of it, but I think he liked it.  He only left one piece on the table. 

 

1/2 John ColeRicotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar ReductionDesserts were average in my opinion.  The cheesecake was okay.  The ice cream was, well, vanilla ice cream. Nothing to write home about.

The kids menu has spaghetti and meatball, cheese ravioli, grilled chicken breast, cheese or pepperoni pizza and a bambini sundae. 

Also, they also have a Gluten Free Menu!

 

The service

Our server tonight was very good, she was on the ball, helpful, kind, and very personable.  She noticed when we didn’t order anything for the kids and asked us about it.  She kept drinks refilled and the table uncluttered. 

There is this one waiter at the Carrabba’s in Plano, who is excellent.  Ogre has commented that he is like a 4 or 5 star (real stars, not fake ones like ours) restaurant server.  I don’t know his name, but you’ll know him when you see him.  He looks like Penn (of Penn and Teller).  You’re in luck if you get him!

 

The kids

As far as kid friendly restaurants go, this is one that takes the calamari!  Seriously, they have a good kids’ menu, they give out good crayons and a nice little activity booklet.  AND they give a little piece of pizza dough so the kids can make their own little pizza!!  Awesome, makes me wish I were still a kid!

For a great Italian meal at a reasonable price with your screaming kids (just kidding, Carrabba’s!)…with your family, Carrabba’s is an excellent choice!

The total: $ 91.24 (one $30 bottle of wine, 3 adults)

 

Rants, Raves, and Ramblings

So, this restaurant was started by a couple of guys in Houston.  Now, it’s totally franchised, but we still like it a lot and Mina loves it.  A few years ago, when Ogre and I were visiting Houston, we hit the original one -we were so excited and ordered, of course, our favorite Caesar Salads.  What was presented before us, we thought, must have been a joke.  There were carrots and that pungent Caesar dressing was missing.  We went so far as to ask our server what the deal was.  Turns out that the “family owned” restaurants make their salad with the huge sliced carrots and “other” dressing.  The “franchise” restaurants do it the way we like.  Sorry, our love of the salad turns us to the dark side, we’ll hit the franchise Carrabba’s anytime over the family owned spots!!

Related Fiascos