Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Carrabba's in Naples, Florida - Second Review

It hurts, seeing half empty restaurants in Naples, now, during the season. So many places to choose from. People decisively vote for their favorites, with their wallets and palates. We drove by Carrabba’s at 6 pm, saw just one open parking spot, and went in. “Welcome to Carrabba’s, There’s a one hour wait,” we were told, and were handed our beeper. Yes, just like Naples was in the good old days, during season! The wait was about one hour, and it wasn't even the magic 7:00 pm dining crunch.

I wrote up Carrabba’s more in depth, May 5th, 2008. It's consistently very good, with it's pricepoint and good to very good quality comfort food. We've gone here for years, expect a moderate noise level (less in booths),and are not disappointed. There's first come-first served chairs at the bar and kitchen, for a good view, and cooking efficiency lessons. We started with the fried calamari ($9). It arrived, hot, crispy and fresh within 10 minutes. A LOT faster than at most spots, and that’s with a packed house! The batter is very light, and lightly seasoned. We asked for both dipping sauces. The marinara is a thick delight of fresh tomatoes and spices, a spoon could almost stand up in it. Wonderful and robust, it even has a touch of sweetness. . The Ricardo sauce, a lemon and pepper butter sauce, was just ok, kind of a salad dressing. There's complimentary fresh baked bread to go with the olive oil and dried herb dip-very tasty.

For dinner the Veal Chop ($20), a special, is a large chop, cooked perfectly medium rare as asked, and with its bone in, it couldn’t be topped for tenderness! Highly recommended. The spinach is fresh, with a great butter or olive oil sauce, and is my favorite of the sides. My rosemary potatoes were oddly lukewarm, and otherwise ok. Guess they were plated long before the chop and spinach hit the plate.

The Mahi mahi (19), also a special, is a good 8-10 oz portion of fresh tasting fish, lightly seared, wonderfully spiced, and tender as could be. Perfection, in its cooking and presentation . The creamy garlic mashed potatoes are better than the regular cut potatoes.

Our server, Joe, is hard to miss, perhaps 6’ 4”, outgoing and great with suggestions-he’s one to look for. We sampled three of the mini desserts, nicely priced at $2.25 each. Our favorite was the Espresso, buried under whipped cream, it has the best taste of the three, with a rich coffee taste. The Rose dessert has fresh strawberries and cream, and is good. The Cannoli was ok, just not the mix of cheeses I’m used to.

We are good eaters, ("vacuum cleaners", when in the mood), and still took home doggie bags. The bill for two was ~$56, plus tax and tip. Service is fast, attentive, and better than at most places in town. No wonder people sign in, take a buzzer, and wait for 1 hour, chatting with nearby total strangers. They know where to get consistently good to great comfort food at a very good price, and, once seated, not wait long at all.

4320 Tamiami Trl N, Naples - 643-7727

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