On behalf of Foodbuzz we were invited to attend as correspondents to cover a Foodbuzz Tastemaker Event at Carrabba's Italian Grill, Plano, TX along with fellow Foodbuzz bloggers on Saturday, August 14, 2010.
Founded in 1986 by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in Houston, TX. With a vast experience in the restaurant business many of the recipes derived from Damian's mother Grace and sister Rose, while traveling to Italy in search of unique dishes back in his grandparents native region.
Carrabba's caught the attention of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., owners and formed a joint venture partnership in 1993. In 1995 Outback Steakhouse, Inc. acquired the rights to develop Carrabba's Italian Grill nationwide.
Upon arriving we were met by the Proprietor, Josh Goldschmidt. Josh and his staff welcomed us and explained what was planned for the event. We were soon joined by other fellow Foodbuzz bloggers and it was so great to meet everybody and formed new friendships. Our tour included a behind the scenes kitchen class, which was lead by there chef who demonstrated and explained what goes into preparing a pasta dish. At Carraba's all the pasta is prepared fresh and does not lay around all day, in fact it is only allowed to stay out for 2 hours and then discarded and fresh pasta is made. In fact our demonstration was about fresh Penne Franco which was a dish made with fresh mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and black olives with a ricotta salata. With an emphasis on fresh ingredients the finished dish looked delicious!
We were also treated to a wonderful light and refreshing Sangria with fresh blackberries! Would come back just for Blackberry Sangria, so good!
After our behind the scenes class demostration we were seated and given a personalized menu card with our names on it, with a 3 course selection.
To start our meal we were served Bruschetta Con Pesto, grilled bread topped with fresh pesto, diced Roma tomatoes, ricotta salata cheese and basil. The crispy bread with fresh vegetables and ripe juicy Roma tomatoes was a delight and a great way to start our meal. There was small bowls of extra virgin olive oil with an herb mix that was perfect for dipping our bruschetta. It reminded me of my family italian family table and how we love to incorporate olive oil.
We were than offered a choice of homemade soup or fresh green salad with a choice of their fresh vinaigrette or other dressings. Greens were crisp and fresh and colorful with a side of dressing of choice.
For the main course my husband and I choose the Rigatoni Campagnolo, which was large tubular pasta tossed with Italian fennel sausage, roasted red bell peppers and pomodoro, topped with a medallion of Caprino goat cheese.
This tasted like homemade with a light and flavorful tomato base flavored with fennel sausage. I never had goat cheese with a pasta dish but the warm buttery medallions of goat cheese were the perfect topper.
With our stomachs full with good food and conversation our experience at Carraba's Italian Grill in Plano, TX was a pleasant event. The staff was warm and pleasant. Our waitress was a good sport when we asked her to take numerous group pictures! All through our meal Josh the proprietor came buy to talk and made us feel at home with his warm hospitality.
At the end of our meal we all received goodie bags full of pasta, salad, dessert and a warm personalized handwritten note from Josh thanking us!
Carraba's Italian Grill is a close to italian home cooking as you can get. They only use the freshest ingredients and everything is cooked fresh and you can certainly taste it. If you are looking for great homemade italian food and a warm friendly environment and possibly the best fresh fruit blackberry Sangria we ever had stop at Carraba's Italian Grill.
We just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Carraba's Italian Grill, Plano, TX
Visit our friends at Carraba's Italian Grill at 3400 N. Central Expy, Plano, TX 75074, Phone 972-516-9900 - Josh Goldschmidt, Proprietor