Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Chicken Caesar Review: Carrabba's

Carrabba's is, bar none, my favorite Italian Restaurant. Although it's a chain, I am never disappointed by the quality of food there as every single item is an incredible combination of flavors. Given this pedigree, expectations were high for its Chicken Caesar. Their "Insalata Carrabba Caesar", which is a Chicken Caesar by any other name and runs for $9.99, contains fresh Romaine lettuce and crunchy croutons tossed with their own Caesar dressing. This is all topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and grilled chicken.

The dominant ingredient of this particular salad is the dressing. Leaning more towards Ranch than Caesar, there is plenty of it to coat everything and has a significant Asiago cheese taste to it. Although I enjoyed it very much, I could see how some people may be overwhelmed by this. The lettuce is fresh and nicely chopped. The croutons are the same as those used at Outback Steakhouse, which are incredibly crunchy and tasty. The chicken, which is cut into thick strips, has a nice grilled flavor yet not as juicy as I would imagine judging from their other chicken dishes. Finally, if the dressing wasn't enough, then there is an additional generous dose of fresh Parmesan to complete the dish.

For this price range, I think I would actually give the Outback Chicken Caesar a slight edge. Still, it's a great salad whose mix of flavors match the complexity of their other dishes and is an incredible creation in its own right.


Anonymous said...

While I thank you for your great rating, as a Carrabbas employee of three years i thought i would enlighten you on our croutons. they are not the same as those used at outback. they are hand cut and battered at each carrabbas daily from our own recipes. Our dressing also contains no asiago cheese

Anonymous said...

I also am an employee at Carrabbas and the recipe we use is Mama Mandolas handed down to Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola everything at Carrabbas in unique and authentic to Carrabbas we do not share our recipes. In fact we use no Asiago cheese in our restaurant.

Alonzo Mosley (FBI) said...

Of all the posts, in all the blogs, in all the worold wide web, this is the post that gets commented on twice.

I could have sworn that there was a distinct tang of Asiago in it, but maybe it was simply because the dressing was so strong that I though so. I admit to being no real expert on cheese, despite knowing Monty Python's "Cheese Shop" sketch by heart.

The croutons statement wasn't properly worded. I should have said that the, "croutons are the same type as those used at Outback". Again, it was not a criticism, but simply offered a description of their taste and texture via comparison.

Again, Carrabba's rises above any typical chain restaurant I've ever been to, and I applaud you and your recipes for their uniqueness and brillance. If I was on death row, then there's a damn good chance I'd pick Pollo Rosa Maria for my last meal.

Thanks for the comments, folks.

jen said...

I also have been working at carrabbas, for over 4 years. I am currently on the prep station that makes the caesar dressing and our croutons. The strong cheese you taste in the dressing is Parmesean cheese. We grate 25 lb wheels of Parm fresh daily for our dressing. The croutons are made fresh daily. We cut up loaves of bread, toss it in our homemade garlic butter and bake them. Its actually a long process, taking a couple hours from start to finish.

jim said...

Well with all this excitement on here for Carabbas I felt I had to leave some feedback too

I personally am very disappointed with the restaurant. As a die hard Outback fan, I expected wonderful things from Carabbas. I will admit I only went 2 or 3 times, but it was never worth going back.

The menu was so so, comparable to Olive Garden and not as good as Macaroni Grill.

Sorry Carabbas, it is probably just my local restaurant. I will someday try another one... maybe.