Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Last Updated on October 26, 2020
October 25, 2020
Founded by two Sicilian boys from Texas who love to cook and eat.
Way back in 1986, Johnny Carrabba III and his uncle, Damian Mandola, got together and opened their first restaurant on Kirkby Drive in Houston, Texas.
Johnny Carrabba III was raised in his parent’s
family-owned grocery store,
Carrabba’s Friendly Grocery.
In 2012, he opened the family’s
new fast-casual concept, Mia’s Table,
one block behind the Original Carrabba’s on Kirby.
In 2014, he opened Grace’s, affectionately named after
his grandmother, Grace Mandola.
The way they tell it, they’re two Sicilian boys from Texas who love to cook and eat. Of course, they’re crazy about Sicilian food because they grew up on it. They also love the Creole and Southern food that their family members picked up in Louisiana and Galveston. Oh, yes, and they love Western food because they’re Texans. It seems that food is a pretty big deal in their lives.
Damian Mandola has been a successful
restauranteur for four-and-a-half decades.
As a college senior, he opened
Damian’s Fine Italian Food in 1975 and
two years later, at the young age of twenty-two
he opened a second restaurant called
D’ Amico’s, back home in Houston.
Business was good for these two Sicilian Texans and they soon opened a second location at the intersection of Woodway and Voss Road in Houston, Texas. They enlarged the restaurant and renamed it Rosie Carrabba’s in honour of Damian’s sister, Rose. Johnny Carrabba and his family are still the owners of both original locations.
In 1993, in partnership with Outback Steakhouse, Inc. (OSI), 10 new Carrabba’s restaurants were opened in Houston and Florida. Two years later, OSI acquired the rights to develop the chain nationwide, opening 250 Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurants.
In 2008, OSI teamed up with HMSHost, an American highway and airport food-service company, to open the first airport location in Tampa International Airport.
On the menu…
Carrabba’s menu is definitely authentic Sicilian, with many of the recipes coming straight from Damian’s mother, Grace, and his sister, Rose. These recipes were featured on the PBS cooking show Cucina Sicilia, which is hosted by Carrabba and Mandola.
One of Carrabba’s Italian Grill’s dishes, Chicken Bryan, features an 8 oz grilled chicken breast, topped with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and a basil lemon-butter sauce. The dish is named after the city of Bryan, Texas, where the Carrabba family settled.
In 2015, the first Carrabba’s
international location opened in Brazil and
was rebranded as Abbraccio.
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