With so many options for a good Italian meal on the Grand Strand, how does anyone go about deciding which restaurant to choose? If you don’t have a favorite that you swear by, and want something familiar, this upscale casual chain offers a menu full of creative renditions of Italian standbys.
Like most chains, the menu is lengthy and divided up into several sections. Appetizer stand-outs include hand-breaded Calamari with housemade marinara or spicy lemon butter, Chicken, Bacon and Sundried Tomato Flatbread, Brick Oven Baked Fontina Bruschette, and Arancini, which are little balls of hand-breaded risotto with fresh herbs, sausage, bell peppers, and Romano cheese.
The options for Soups and Salads include house-favorite Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup, a generations-old recipe of chicken, pasta, veggies, and herbs; Parmesan Crusted Chicken Salad; Minestrone; and the Johnny Rocco Salad, with wood-grilled shrimp and scallops, roasted red peppers, olives, ricotta, romaine, mixed greens, and their signature Italian vinaigrette.
Entrée selections are divided up into Chicken, Pork, Beef, and Veal, Seafood Oven-Baked, Pasta, Roman-Style Pizza, and Signature Combinations.
Chicken dishes are served with a cup of soup or salad, as well as your choice of vegetable of the day, garlic mashed potatoes, or Cavatappi Amatriciana (spiral tube pasta, tomato and pecorino sauce). Favorites include Chicken Bryan, topped with goat cheese, sundried tomato, basil, and lemon butter; and Pollo Rosa Maria, stuffed with fontina and prosciutto, topped with mushrooms and basil lemon butter.
Beef, Pork, and Veal dishes include a Marsala version of each, topped with prosciutto, mushrooms, and their housemade marsala wine sauce. Other dishes include Grilled Tuscan Skewers, Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, and a Filet.
For Seafood, Carrabba’s serves up favorites like Spiedino Di Mare (breadcrumb-coated shrimp and scallops, lemon butter), Tilapia Nocciola (hazelnut-breaded, roma tomatoes, basil lemon butter), and Mahi Wulfe (lighty-breaded, wood-grilled, topped with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and lemon butter).
The Oven Baked section of the menu contains dishes that pretty much everyone will be familiar with – Chicken Parmesan, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Lasagne, and Baked Ravioli Parmesan.
Pasta entrees are tossed in housemade sauces or stuffed, and come with a bowl of soup or salad. In addition to Spaghetti with meatballs and Fettucini Alfredo with shrimp, original offerings include Fettucine Carrabba (wood-grilled chicken, mushrooms, peas), Rigatoni Martino (chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato cream, scallions, ricotta), and Mezzaluna (ravioli with chicken, spinach, ricotta, and Romano in a tomato cream sauce).
For those in the mood for pizza, Carrabba’s has their own dough recipe, and tosses and stretches each pie in-house. Options include a classic Margherita, a Carnevale (pepperoni, Italian fennel sausage, red bell peppers, Romano, mozzarella, basil, housemade sauce), Chicken Bryan, and Quattro Formaggi (romano, mozzarella, fontina, goat cheese, sundried tomato, olive oil).
And for dessert, save room for Canolis, Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, Sogno di Cioccolata (fudge brownie, chocolate mousse, whipped cream, housemade chocolate sauce), or Dessert Rosa (butter cake, pastry cream, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, whipped cream).
The kitchens here are all open, so you can watch the culinary process in real-time. And because the appropriate foods are prepared on a wood-fire grill, you can smell it, too.
The mood is set with lowered-lighting, and servers are dressed up in crisp shirts with ties and long aprons.
And it’s normally fairly busy, which means that the overall vibe is usually pretty energetic and definitely family-friendly.