Carrabba’s Italian Grill prepares rich, flavorful Italian food in the Sicilian tradition at their many locations throughout Florida.
On the weekends, there is often a line at Carrabba’s Italian restaurant, 910 3rd Street SW, Winter Haven, Florida, but if you don’t want to wait, you can usually find space at the food prep bar. With the open kitchen area, it’s possible to watch the chefs cook.
If you like to stay toasty, the food prep bar is also a warmer place to sit. It’s fun to see them use the brick oven to prepare pizzas topped with sundried tomatoes, romano, mozzarella, and goat cheeses! Carrabba’s Italian Grill is one of the best Italian restaurants in Florida.
Bread at Carrabba’s
A waiter brings you crusty Italian bread and herbs to mix with olive oil while waiting for your soup and/or salad. You can request butter or some balsamic vinegar, which I mix with the herbs and olive oil for dipping the bread.
Best salad at Carrabba’s
If you aren’t sure what to order at Carrabba’s, think about it while you enjoy soup or salad. I’ve had the Caesar house salad at Carrabba’s which is simple with lettuce, shredded Parmesan cheese and crispy, buttery croutons that aren’t so rock hard as some croutons. The chunky Carrabba’s croutons actually melt in your mouth.
Best soup at Carrabba’s
For soup, I love their Minestrone, which is not the tomato-based pasta Minestrone, but a pale soup base with potatoes, carrots, green beans. I asked the waiter once how they made their incredible Minestrone, and he told me the secret is the cheese that simmers in the soup pots for hours.
Best appetizers at Carrabba’s
When it comes to ordering appetizers at Carrabba’s, consider the crab cakes which are made with jumbo lump crabmeat and served with a roasted red bell pepper sauce. They aren’t Maryland-style, but they are delicious. I also love their Zucchini Fritte, which are lightly battered and fried zucchini with a roasted garlic aioli sauce.
Best main dishes at Carrabba’s
As far as what to order at Carrabba’s, you can’t go wrong with the Marsala. Whenever Carrabba’s comes up in conversation, their Marsala wine sauce is invariably mentioned. My one friend does not like mushrooms, so I told her to order plain “brown sauce,” which is the Marsala wine sauce without the mushrooms. You can enjoy the Marsala sauce with chicken or steak at Carrabba’s.
My husband loves the spaghetti and meatballs at Carrabba’s. The meatballs are enormous. We also like the grilled chicken basted in herbs. The grilled chicken comes with garlic mashed potatoes and a vegetable of the day. On my recent visit, the vegetable was spinach sautéed in garlic. The garlic mashed potatoes are extremely rich and creamy, with a few visible pieces of red potato skins.
I’ve also tasted the lasagna, which is meaty and cheesy.
Best deserts as Carrabba’s
Carrabba’s serves Limoncello bread pudding, Tiramisu with liqueur laced espresso, a fudge brownie with Kahlua called Sogno Di Cioccolata and little mini-desserts including Dessert Rosa and Chocolate Coconut Mousse. I’ve tried the min-desserts served in shot glasses, and they are the perfect size to end a meal on a sweet note.
Carrabba’s wood-burning grill seems to make a difference when it comes to the flavor of the chicken and steaks. The chicken is always moist, and flavorful with a delicious smoky grilled flavor.
Best drink, price, atmosphere, locations
I also love the fact Carrabba’s has a gluten-free menu for people who try to avoid wheat. For drinks, try the blackberry sangria.
The atmosphere at Carrabba’s is low key in Florida. My husband wears shorts and a t-shirt and I dress up and no one cares. Oh, and there are no annoying sharing fees. They are happy to even present your one meal on two separate plates if requested. Carrabba’s Italian Grill is one of the best Italian restaurants in Florida.
You may also visit Carrabba’s in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Illinois and Maryland. It really does not have a restaurant chain feel if you are looking for authentic-tasting Italian food. It’s also reasonably priced, especially if you are sharing a meal.
For my review of Carrabba’s Italian Grill, I give Carrabba’s a five out of five stars.
For more information on Carrabba’s Italian Grill, 910 3rd Street SW, Winter Haven, Florida, call (863) 293-6635.
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