He Geek: Italian for “orange”, the Aracini appetizer is only named that for its shape, not content. The delicious Aracini is a crunchy fried ball of cheesy risotto, combined with Carrabbas’ savory sausage, and red peppers. It has a great texture, crispy on the outside but creamy inside. It comes with a homemade marinara sauce on the side, but I preferred not using it and savoring the flavor of the Aracini without covering it up.
She Geek: These balls named after an orange due to its shape, were a great way to start off our meal. The risotto had a nice mild cheesy creaminess that allowed for the zest from their delicious Italian fennel sausage that’s encased in a light and crispy breading. The appetizer comes with a marinara sauce with nice sweet chunks of tomato amidst the pureed ones, and a healthy blend of seasonings. Although the sauce has a very nice flavor, I preferred the balls on their own as it allowed for the filling to speak for itself. This is a definite must have.
He Geek: I wasn’t overly impressed with the sample I received. The chicken breast is pounded flat and coated in parmesan and breadcrumbs, and ours was topped with a roasted red pepper sauce. The sauce was necessary because the chicken alone was kind of dry. We were told that the actual dish would come with the sauce on the side and the dish would come with a caramelized lemon half to squeeze on the chicken. I’d have liked to try that version of the entrée because what I got just didn’t do it for me.
She Geek: The texture and flavor of this reminded me of pan fried pork cutlets. The meat could have been moister as it had a slight dryness to it. I would recommend that they go easier on the pepper, as I felt that this was overly present and overwhelmed the other flavors. However, if you get a bite with a good amount of the zippy roasted red pepper sauce atop it the experience is much better. This reminded me too much of dishes I’ve had from my family, so not something I would order on my own, but would be a good option for someone seeking a home cooking type meal.
He Geek: The first of three seafood-based dishes, the haddock had me torn. This entrée is pretty self-explanatory based on the name: a nice piece of haddock coated in a hash brown potato crust, topped with light mustard and diced tomatoes. The haddock is a light fish without a lot of fishy flavor, so it relies on the accompanying potato coating to add flavor. Unfortunately, our table received four plates and each was cooked to a different crispiness. No one at the table was really thrilled with this one, but I will say that the last plate that came out had the perfect hash browns and was still hot, which made this final sample pretty good. But one out of four isn’t good odds.
She Geek: I had the opportunity to try two different platings of this dish and the piping hot straight from the kitchen one was far superior to the one that had cooled some. The fish itself was meaty and flaked easily with a fork. However the filet lacked a lot of flavor. It wasn’t a fishy tasking fish but it also didn’t have a flavor that stood out. The fish needed to be paired with the toppings in order to really be enjoyable, so having a good sauce and tomatoes to fish ratio per bite is needed. Also, the crispier hash brown breading offered the best experience, so it might be wise to request the potatoes done well.
Champagne Shrimp & Scallop Linguine
He Geek: Pan-seared shrimp and scallops with mushrooms and red peppers tossed with linguine in a champagne cream sauce. The first thing I noticed was the woody scent I got from the tarragon. I was told that there should have been a slight licorice flavor to the dish, but thankfully I didn’t get that. I don’t like scallops and I really don’t like licorice so the combo of the two would have not worked for me. Despite my aversion to scallops, I tried one but my opinion still hasn’t changed. The shrimp on the other hand was nicely done. However, all in all, this dish was OK, but nothing amazing.
She Geek: This dish had a very earthy flavor which I believe stemming primarily from the mushrooms and the bitterness that came come from champagne. The use of tarragon lent a very light anise taste, but it was mild enough that sense of black licorice was not overwhelming. I think your enjoyment of this dish still is dependent on one’s tolerance of anise. The scallops were smaller in size but still meaty and nicely cooked although I was pretty neutral on the shrimp. The inclusion of roasted red peppers was a welcome surprise and burst of sweetness. If you don’t like rustic flavors and prefer more traditional sauces you may want to select another offering.
“Forever Braised” Beef Brasato
He Geek: This beef short rib was the comfort food of the evening. It was fork tender and tasted very much like homemade pot roast on its own, almost too much. However, when combined with the red vegetable sauce and risotto that comes as part of the entrée, the flavors came together in a pleasant melody.
She Geek: The short rib’s flavor could be likened to a pot roast. It had a nice flavor, but I could have used a little more salt and pepper on it. A smooth and creamy risotto serves as the base for the dish, and was my favorite part of the plate.
Grilled Tuscan Skewers
He Geek: This was the best savory item of the night: a medium-rare piece of sirloin on a wooden skewer with red onion and cherry tomatoes topped with a Chianti wine sauce. That sauce was the star of this entrée; it even made the skewer taste good! Our fellow diners agreed that the only thing that would have made this dish complete would be a piece of bread sop the rest of the sauce from the plate as a nice after-dinner bite.
She Geek: This was my favorite entrée offering on the tasting menu. There’s just something special about grilled vegetables, the fire just allows the flavors to burst forth bringing out the sweetness that was evident in the red onion and tomato on the skewer. The sirloin pieces were juicy and the Chianti wine glaze made for a delightful pairing full of flavor.
He Geek: Another dish with another seafood I don’t really like. I feel like I’m supposed to like lobster because…lobster. Sorry, I’m more of a crab guy. Plus one of the four cheeses used in the mac & cheese was goat cheese…yuck. Maybe it’s unfair of me to critique this one, but if you like lobster and goat cheese you’d probably actually like the taste of this one because there was quite a bit of both. Thing is, it felt almost too bulky. You’ll definitely get full from this if nothing else.
She Geek: Southern mac & cheese typically has a thick yet liquidy cheese coating over the entire noodle. This Italian offering was more of a heavy sprinkling of four different cheese that were melted over the top of the al dente noodles. The dish was nice and creamy, with stringy cheese (like that when pulling a slice of pizza away from the whole pie). I’m not a fan of goat cheese, even in small amounts, so the slight tang that it added to the dish wasn’t to my liking. But I believe that those who enjoy goat cheese would find plenty to love in this dish.
The lobster pieces were rather large in size and nice and meaty allowing for the sweetness to really sing.
The entrée was very rich, so I would find it hard to eat the entire thing and might even suggest it being served as a side dish instead.
Sogno Di Cioccolata
He Geek: Oh my goodness! This is one awesome dessert! If you like chocolate, you love the two layers of fudge brownie, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream topped with chocolate sauce. Each bite of this huge final course will make you say “yum” if you can stop putting it in your mouth long enough to form the word, that is.
She Geek: I’m a big brownie fan, so I was very much looking forward to trying it. I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed in this sweet treat, and it was my favorite thing of the whole evening. The brownie is not overly thick, but is dense and chewy. The chocolate mousse was creamy and fluffy, adding a nice lightness to the dish. There’s not an overwhelming chocolate taste. Instead there’s a nice balance to the flavors allowing you to enjoy each of the layers, even down to the chocolate smear on the plate that serves as an extra garnish of sorts. The portion that we had when shared by two people was a perfect amount, and the menu item is actually twice the size so be sure to ask for a couple extra forks to share with you tablemates. This is one delicious dessert and you’ll want to make sure to save room for it.