Carrabba's Italian Grill was founded by Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola in Houston, Texas in 1986. The restaurant features hand-prepared family recipes made from the finest ingredients and prepared to order in an exhibition kitchen. The success of Carrabba's led to the popular PBS cooking show Cucina!, starring Carrabba and Mandola, as well as a series of companion cookbooks. There are currently 240 Carrabba's Italian Grill locations around the country.

Offering Italian-inspired cuisine passed down from our 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, customers can enjoy signature dishes, including Chicken Bryan, Spiedino di Mare and a fresh twist on an Italian Classic, Wood-grilled Chicken Marsala. Carrabba’s was voted #1 Italian in the 2014 Consumer Picks Survey by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Marinated Prawns

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 6

juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds prawns or large shrimp (heads on for the most flavor)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

In a bowl, combine and lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour the liquid over the shrimp in a baking dish. Let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

For the shrimp in the marinade into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, just until the shrimp are pink, about 5 minutes.

Chocolate Ricotta Cheesecake

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

1 Rich Pie Crust   (see page 169)
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons spiced rum
1 pound ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

Prepare the crust and chill for one hour.

Right before you mix the filling, roll out the chilled dough and line a buttered, 2 inch deep spring form cake pan. Press the crust evenly into the bottom of the cake pan and 3/4 of the way up the sides. Return to the refrigerator until you are ready to fill the shell.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Soak the raisins in the rum for at least a half an hour. Drain the liquor and reserve. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler gently. Set aside to cool slightly.

Beat the ricotta cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and flour and continue to mix until creamy. Then add the egg yolks, whipped cream, sour cream, vanilla, orange zest and reserved rum. Mix until well incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and the drained raisins. Set aside.

In a mixer, beat the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites at a time, into the cheese mixture, being careful not to overmix the filling. Pour the filling into the crust shell and smooth out the top.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cake cool inside the oven with the door ajar for another 30 minutes. Continue to let the cake cool well before cutting. Refrigerate after cooling.

To serve, dip a slender knife first into hot water before cutting. Place the slices on individual serving plates.

Rich Pie Crust:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to blend. Add the cold butter and pulse five to six times, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, mix the egg, yolk, zest and vanilla. Add this to the food processor while it is running. Stop mixing once the ingredients are incorporated. It is important not to overmix, as the dough will be less tender.

Empty the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until it is no longer sticky. Cut the dough into two equal chunks, and pat them into floured rounds. Makes 2 (10 inch) pie crusts.

Rocky Road Cake

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 10-12

1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter flavoring extract
4 eggs
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped

1 (4 oz.) stick butter, melted
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
1 (16 oz.) box powdered sugar
1 (10 oz.) bag mini marshmallows

To make the Cake:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 by 13 inch cake pan.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and butter flavoring extract. Beat in one egg at a time until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture, a little at a time, and fold the pecans in at the end. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

To Prepare the Icing:  In a medium saucepan, combine the melted butter, cocoa powder, canned evaporated milk and powdered sugar. Cook on the stove top for about 10 to 15 minutes. The icing is ready when you can drop a small amount of it in a cup of cold water, swirl it with your finger and a ball will form.

When it's reached the softball stage, stir in the marshmallows until smooth. Pour on top of the cake, spreading evenly to cover.

Coconut Cake

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 8-10

3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2-4 tablespoons Half and Half
2 cups grated coconut

To make the Cake:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (9 inch) round cake pans.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour mixture and milk in thirds alternating with the sugar mixture, beating until smooth before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla and pecans. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake for 25 minutes until the center springs back slightly to the touch. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling racks.

To make the Icing:  In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Beat in as much Half and Half as desired to achieve a smooth, spreadable frosting. Ice one cake on top and sides. Sprinkle liberally with coconut. Top with the second cake and continue icing and adding coconut.  Serves 8 to 10.

Raspberry and Nectarine Crumble

Carrabba's Restaurant Recipe

Serves 6-8

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup medium grain cornmeal
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
zest of 1 lime
pinch of salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

6 nectarines, sliced
2 pints fresh raspberries
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 11 by 8 inch  baking pan and set aside.

To make the crumb topping:  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, using your fingers to work in the cold butter until the topping resembles a pebble like texture. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the fruit and finish:   In another large bowl,  and the fruit, lime juice, sugar and nutmeg. Toss gently,  then transfer the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb topping over it evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes until the topping is brown and bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes.

To serve, Spoon into individual serving bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.