Carrabba's - a Dining Extravaganza
Perhaps it is a bit odd to write about a franchise restaurant for a local tourism page; but the service and ambiance provided by Mike Xifaras and the service staff of the Palm Coast Carrabba’s warrant more than just a friendly nod. Carrabba’s Italian Grill wasn’t always a part of the Palm Coast landscape. For years, those who craved the taste of their signature dishes traveled to either St. Augustine or Daytona Beach. Now, it’s a short trip to Cypress Edge Drive, just around the curve from Walmart.
For me, a trip to Carrabba’s is reminiscent of a scene from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It’s as if Lumière himself beckons patrons to “Be Our Guest”; and enjoy the spectacular pageantry provided by the entire service staff. From the drizzling of olive oil over spices for fresh, hot bread to the pouring of a relaxing glass of wine, food and drink are presented in a way meant to impress and awaken the senses.
A special feature of Carrabba’s dining extravaganza is that of the premiere seating by the grill. If you have not yet experienced your dinner presented by the kitchen, the nightly show, courtesy of the folks I call Carrabba’s Men in Black, is every bit as entertaining as that of Lumière, Cogsworth, Chip, and Mrs. Potts. Every sense, sight, sounds, taste, and anticipation are awakened from the moment the order is placed until it is cheerfully served.
Quite honestly, the seating by the grill and the nightly entertainment was discovered quite by accident. Rather than waiting for a booth or outside seating, the hostess offered immediate seating by the grill. To this day, it remains my preferred seating. It’s like being asked to sit down at the kitchen table while a fresh, hot meal is lovingly prepared for your enjoyment. It’s awesome! I thoroughly enjoy watching the entire cook staff come to life as each order is received. On this particular evening, just as I take my seat, Carrabba’s grill master, immediately asks if I like seafood.
Within minutes of answering yes, a wonderful sampling of Lobster Ravioli smothered in a white wine cream sauce is handed to me before my order is even placed. Samples are just one of the little perks that are both loved and appreciated. More often than not I get a chance to taste a dish I might not order.
Sitting at the grill is a wonderful way to not only pass the time while your order is prepared, it gives you a new found appreciation for the care and the “food of love” demonstrated by each cook staff with each prepared entrée. These guys completely enjoy what they do. They whistle while they work, they rhythmically swirl pasta into steaming pots of boiling water, they create sizzling sensations with fire that seems to dance each time chicken, salmon, and steak begin to grill. It’s a cozy place to sit and become lost in a mesmerizing fire and a grill master make menu items sizzle with fabulous flames. It absolutely amazing to watch an order come together.
The lead cook staff calls out the entrées and sides like St. Nick calling out the names of his team on Christmas Eve. A small Bryan, a Weesie, a Salmon, and a Luna are just a few of the dishes you’ll hear as you watch the show. Added to the symphonic sounds of boiling pots, flipping sautés, clanging pans, and roaring fires, are the voices of Carrabba’s Men in Black. Why Men in Black? Simple. They proudly wear the Carrabba’s black polo, and instead of black Ray-Bans, they sport a cap with black wide-brims. Tonight’s musical montage is a tribute to Smokey and the Bandit, including verses from “East Bound and Down” and unforgettable lines by Sheriff Buford T. Justice.
A seat at the grill is the perfect way to truly embody Live, Love, Eat, a feeling completely anticipated by the eatery’s founders and expressed as “The Carrabba’s Experience”. As orders are completed and plated, Carrabba’s conductor, the person charged with calling for food runners to get the hot food to the table, checks the order one last time, and sends each wonderful entrée to its final destination. Bon Appétit!
Rarely do I share secrets; and, although I know this will greatly reduce the availability of seating by the grill, it’s a chance I am willing to take so that others can experience the wonderful sights, sounds, and tastes presented by the Men in Black of La Cucina Carrabba’s. In the words of Lumière, if you’re stressed, the MIB show will help you decompress, so please, “Be Our Guest”.
Mike Xifaras, Proprietor
160 Cypress Edge Drive
Palm Coast, FL 32164
Hours of Operation:
Sunday - Thursday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
Call Ahead Seating