Monday, September 7, 2009

Original Carrabba's

When Johnny and Damian Carrabba sold their string of Carrabba’s restaurants to the Outback Steakhouse group in 1995, they kept the original two locations (Kirby/Richmond and Woodway/Voss) in the family. And while the franchised versions have fallen into the dogfood abyss that are chains (blech!), the original two shops continue to turn out consistently great dishes on a daily basis.

Much like the *ONLY* Ninfa’s I go to is the original one on Navigation, the *ONLY* Carrabba’s I’ll go to is the flagship one on Kirby. Eh, you won’t find the sophistication of Da Marco or the creativity of Dolce Vita, but you will find classic Italian dishes, well prepared with beautiful sauces and pasta al dente.


Crab cakes are light and fresh, chicken dishes cooked just right. The pizza crust could use some work, but the fresh toppings and pure simplicity almost make up for it. Cappelletti -- ravioli-like pasta stuffed with chicken, ricotta, and spinach in a tomato cream sauce -- stole the show as the evening favorite. But the Pasta Weesie -- with mushrooms, scallions, and sautéed shrimp -- sings with flavor in a neck-and-neck, NASCAR-like race.


The original Carrabba’s isn’t anything mindblowing. Really, it’s not. But it is a fun night out with great food, nice service, and an upbeat atmosphere. So why the heck not?

Carrabba’s -- 3115 Kirby (near Richmond)

5 comments:

Carol Graci said...

You are so right about the two originals. Can't beat the food or the service....

12halfshell said...

The pancetta-wrapped, sage-stuffed quails resting on polenta cakes at the original Carrabba's — one of the best things you can put in your mouth, 'nuff said.

HTownChowDown said...

I agree with the premise of your article: The family-owned stores are head and shoulders above the chain Carrabba's locations.

A couple of corrections: Both the Kirby store and the Voss store are still owned by the family. And Damian's last name is Mandola, not Carrabba.

Ruthie Johnson said...

Thanks for the correction on the name! My bad. But, uh, not sure where the other one is coming from... I reference twice that the original two shops are still family owned. Glad to have someone keeping me on my feets, though.

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