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Worthwhile?: the Grape and Carrabba

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My husband and I will be a week in Tampa at the end of the month, and we're hoping to eat well a few times while there. When I say well, I mean I want interesting, unique dining that isn't going to break the bank. Two places that caught my eye were The Grape at International Plaza (we adore wine), and Carrabba's Italian Grille.

If there are any locals out there who can provide a quick review on either of these places, we'd be grateful for any insight you have.

Thanks!

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  1. Carrabba's is a chain -- search the Chains board, there are several posts on them there. :-)

    (Personally, I'm not a fan. Too much grilled stuff, not enough "Italian" flavors. And not exactly cheap -- if that's your price range, there have got to be hundreds of other options in Tampa that won't "break the bank" for you.)

    1. I disagree with your comments on Carrabbas. They offer great Italian sauces and have the best meatballs and sausages in the business. All the recipes come from a solid Sicilian background. Being from Texas the originators picked up the wood-burning grill, which just adds another layer of flavor (try the Chicken Bryan). As far as the prices are concerned, it’s not fast food, Apps are $5-$10, Pizza $10 Entrees $12-&$20.

      1. I have read 2 mediocre reviews of the Grape in the past month so I think I would skip it. Carrabba's is definitely a solid Italian chain. But there are so many good privately run Italian places in Tampa that I would probably go to one of them instead.

        1. I have not been to Grape but I do like Carabba's myself. The dining room can be a little loud at times and you do have to mange the wait staff so the food does not arrive too quickly but I do like the food. I realize it is a chain but this is one of the few that i like.

          John

          1. Thanks for all the input. Seeing as I'm not from the US I don't recognize the names of most of the US chain restaurants. If the couple places I picked out are not the stellar choices, then can someone recommend the ones that are? I'd like to spend about $80 for two people with a bottle of wine.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kase

              Personally, we love Carraba's. Very consistent, very god service, good value, nice ambience. Mayb someone from Tampa could recommend another good non-chain Italian place, if you require one. Otherwise, Carraba's is always a goood place to eat.

            2. Carraba's is one of those chains where quality can vary hugely depending on how much of a perfectionist the general manager is. I've had good meals there, and horrible meals at my local one after a management chain.

              2 Replies
              1. re: beachmouse

                Exactly. Plus, they're everywhere. If someone's posting a question on this board I think it's safe to assume they would want to know what Tampa has that's special that isn't available elsewhere. :-)

                1. re: Covert Ops

                  I can't stand Carraba's. Everything is always swimming in sauce and heavy garlic.