Story by Meg Arbo
Let’s face it, Tuesday is generally nothing to get excited about. In fact, it can be pretty ho-hum at best. So when Explore Philly was invited to a wine pairing meal at Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Willow Grove, we were pretty happy because, hey, that beats the usual Tuesday night of nothingness.
This was a chainwide, national event for Carrabba’s and was touted as the World’s Largest Wine Dinner with over 4000 bottles of wine uncorked for the 7000 diners’ viticultural pleasure. Four curated wines with four courses for $40 – a steal!
The dinner began with a salad course with a Northern Italian pinot grigio from Chloe. Other diners at our table thought the wine was a bit dryer than most pinot grigios. However, it was a fine complement to the salad which was brought to life with a lovely hazelnut encrusted medallion of goat cheese, artichoke hearts, and grilled eggplant.
We were next treated with a generous helping of Calabrian cavatappi pasta. The sauce was a vibrant blend of piquant Italian peppers, crushed tomatoes, sautéed bell peppers married with olive oil, basil, fresh garlic and a sinfully creamy burrata cheese. For those unfamiliar with burrata, picture homemade ricotta, held together by a layer of fresh mozzarella and you will understand why this was so delicious. Our server offered us freshly grated parmesan for our pasta, which, naturally, we accepted. This course also gave us our favorite wine of the evening in the Pieropan Soave, a crisp, subtle white with which we were unfamiliar.
We were offered a choice of veal Marsala or Tuscan grilled steak. We both ordered the steak. My dining companion’s steak was done medium rare, as she requested. I ordered mine cooked the same way, but it came out medium well, which is as well-done as I can stand it. I wasn’t going to send it back, but the proprietor, Steven Sclan, overheard me talking about it and insisted that I get a fresh, properly cooked steak. Steven was a gracious and gregarious host and is obviously proud of his establishment. The wine paired with the main course was Sequoia Grove Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
Dessert was the “chocolate dream” which was a much better than average fudge brownie topped with chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. Pairing a wine with a dessert can sometimes be a challenge, but this was a fairly successful pairing. The wine in question was a Ravenwood Zinfandel from California.
This is an event that Carrabba’s Italian Grill will be offering monthly throughout the country for a limited time. Visit Carrabba’s online at www.carrabbas.com for more information on their wine pairing meals in celebration of its new wine menu which features 42 distinctive wines curated by Carrabba’s sommelier Brittany Deloach. In this single evening, the restaurant planned to serve 28,000 dishes and wine parings to 7,000 guests.
Offering authentic Italian cuisine passed down from the founders’ family recipes, Carrabba’s uses only the best ingredients to prepare fresh and handmade dishes cooked to order in a lively exhibition kitchen. Featuring a wood-burning grill inspired by the many tastes of Italy, guests can enjoy signature dishes, including Chicken Bryan, Pollo Rosa Maria, Wood-Fire Grilled Steak and chops, new Small Plates and classic Italian Pasta dishes in a welcoming, contemporary atmosphere. Carrabba’s consistently ranks as a favorite for Italian and Casual Dining in the Consumer Picks Survey by Nation’s Restaurant News. For more information, please visit www.Carrabbas.com or www.Facebook.com/Carrabbas.