A new Carrabba's Italian Grill opened recently in Sanford, near the Seminole Towne Center Mall. We first went there on opening night, because they were donating a portion of their proceeds to the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center. That was a busy night but we were lucky to snag one of a very few chairs that are right by the kitchen, and we were well entertained (plus had delicious food). We did have a small "hiccup" where our waitress said, "hey, it's still happy hour" but when she brought our drinks said "so sorry, we missed it by just a minute." Well, a manager later and we were square away and so was the waitress--heck it was a learning lesson for her as well. And the food and service were awesome.
Our next visit, and the subject of this blog post, was for my friend Tommy's birthday. We had an excellent experience and meal. We started out with our waiter telling us, "hey you just missed happy hour but i can squeeze you in!" And he did. Now that's what I call great service. I'd like to think our opening night experience helped train their staff a bit. We started off with some wine and had a coupon for a free appetizer, so we tried the Mussels. All I can say is wow. They were wonderful, very buttery with a hint of the tartness of a good white wine and garlic. There had to be a good two dozen of them and we devoured them. As you can see from the picture, we were mostly through them before I was even able to take a picture. Wonderful!
We both decided to start our meals with a cup of their Tomato Basil Soup. It was a good choice. The soup was wonderful. It had the great flavor of roasted tomatoes complimented by a bit of tang from some red wine vinegar, and then a bit of sharpness of parmigiano-reggiano. It was truly outstanding. The finish with the cheese and fresh basil julienne gave it a wonderful aroma. It looked great, smelled great, and, most of all, tasted great!
For his main course, Tommy ordered a steak, the Filet Fiorentina. It was a nice tenderloin steak cooked on the wood grill, covered with a wonderful mushroom gravy, and accompanied by garlic roasted mashed potatoes. First of all the potatoes were excellent. Little lumps and some red skins all made it very rustic, and the taste was wonderful, smooth, and creamy. The steak was also very good, perfectly cooked, and had a nice aroma from the wood fire.
For my main course, since I could not make up my mind, I had the Chicken Trio. This was a great combination, smaller portions of three different dishes, the Chicken Bryan, Chicken Marsala, and Chicken Rosa Maria. All somewhat different, yet each absolutely delicious. Mine was accompanied by some fresh green beans which were lightly sauteed but still a bit crisp--just the way I like them. Each of the Chicken dishes was wonderful in its own regard and I'd be hard-pressed to chose a favorite. I guess that's the reason for the trio, you don't have to choose.
Throughout our dining experience, our waiter was very attentive. The food was excellent. We are both fans of Carabbas and will be back, for sure. I suggest you give them a try as well.