Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Downers Grove, IL

Someone on a forum recently asked me if Katie and I have ever had a bad experience at a restaurant, something so bad that we vowed never to return there. The answer is, of course we have, but through years of intensive therapy we’ve been able to successfully block them out.

Sirloin MarsalaI’m going to answer his question with a single word: Carrabba’s. Our single worst dining experience came from this “Italian Grill.” The inside of the restaurant was set up like any other chain restaurant. Faux coziness and dimmed lights surrounded the open air kitchen where you could see the grilling being done at its most Italianist. Any other day of the week wouldn’t have seen us even stepping foot in this chain restaurant, but we were in a crunch and needed a bite.

The waitress pushed their marsala sauce with such vigor that we were convinced her life was in jeopardy if she didn’t meet a marsala quota. Being vegetarian, my choices were limited, but needless to say I didn’t get anything with the marsala sauce. Instead I ordered their Pizza Margherita. The pizza arrived and the “fresh” mozzarella was either SO fresh or SO pre-frozen that it hadn’t melted onto the pizza. Instead there were pockets of cheese swimming in the vast pool of crust. The first sliced finished, I noticed how very unremarkable the pizza tasted. Instead, every ingredient seemed to have been sapped of its flavor, replaced with some chemically created grill flavor. The tomatoes were under ripe, and the basil was completely flavorless.

I expressed my troubles to Katie, who at first didn’t believe me.

After grabbing a couple bites though, she came to the same realization. The pizza was just crappy. I’ve had my share of pizza margherita, and this was easily the worst I’ve ever had.

Katie ordered the manicotti. We were told that the portion was hearty, and she wasn’t much in the mood for the raved about marsala sauce either. When her meal arrived, she was given a medium to small size porcelain dish filled with two stuffed pasta, some sauce, and not much else. Her food had a few more flavors than mine, but that’s not saying much.

CannoliThe other problem we ran into was that once our food was delivered, our overly eager waitress was never seen again, except to deliver the bill. While it was nearing dinner hour, the restaurant wasn’t packed by any means, so we couldn’t forgive her for having too much to do.

We ate our meal quickly, paid the bill and left. I actually rushed over to the nearest TCBY to grab some yogurt just to have SOME type of flavor other than grill in my mouth. That was a wise choice, because I ended up with a pumpkin/white chocolate twist cone which was delicious.

The food and the service guarantee we won’t be returning to Carrabbas any time soon. Italian food in a chain restaurant is usually iffy anyways, but this was some of the worst we’ve ever had.

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3 Responses to Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Downers Grove, IL

  1. TwobitMe says:

    Olive Garden has a damn tasty white pizza. Plus those breadsticks. Those delicious breadsticks!

  2. Pingback: Oxford Street Cafe - Romeoville, IL « Two Bites in Suburbia

  3. src1972 says:

    I have never eaten at a Carrabba’s. But as someone who tries NOT to support chains, I feel torn between that and my love for…Olive Garden. The food isn’t that spectacular, but goddamn if it isn’t tasty.
    Goddamn you, free breadsticks!

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