Carino's transports you to a world trimmed with the finest Italian cuisine, discovers Sneha May Francis
What better way to kick off your weekend than with a delectable bowl of creamy pasta. It’s definitely not a healthy option. So we decided to give our diets a pause and indulged ourselves in a cheesy heaven.
As it’s nestled in a paradise for shopaholics, finding Carino's Italian Grill may need some walking around. Once inside, it instantly takes you to a land of herbs and spices. The interiors are an eclectic rush of colours. The walls are shaded with framed black and white photographs, and coloured ceramic pots deck the half walls.
The cool winter weather prompted us to chose the sunny outdoors with the simple décor to the cozy colourful interiors. Our friendly waiter guided us through the menu, emphasising the favourites. And while our order was being prepared, we bit into the soft Italian herbed bread after giving it a lavish dip in olive oil.
For starters, we decided on the Sicilian Fire Sticks. These are, by far, the most unusual looking starters I've ever had. The pinkish cylindrical cones were artistically placed in an inverted cone-shaped dish. Each bite into the crispy crunchy tortilla wraps burst into a cheesy blend of beef sausage, grilled chicken, bacon, tomatoes and jalapenos. I suggest you give up on your table manners and give the fork and knife a skip. Give it a lavish dip in the spicy marinara or cool ranch sauce before taking a huge bite.
For the main course, we picked the tried and tested Homemade Baked Lasagna. It melted in our mouths, teasing our tastebuds with the right blend of cheese and minced beef in a scrumptious meaty sauce. And for those with spicy cravings, a dash of tabasco sauce would do wonders. The Spicy Shrimp and Chicken was a creamy mix of flavours. The cayenne pepper and romano cream sauce with chunks of sun-dried tomatoes perfectly complemented the succulent tiger prawns and slices of grilled chicken. Another favourite was the Chicken Milano. The tender chicken breast was sautéed to perfection, baked with layers of cheese, ham and sprinkled with fresh basil. The creamy fettuccine alfredo was the perfect accompaniment.
The only disappointment was the Grilled New York Strip, which is "new" on the menu. Even though the waiter recommended the Tuscan Ribeye, we decided to go with our choice of steak. The meat was insipid, the bunch of sautéed green beans and crunchy red bell peppers didn't do much for the dish. Among the drinks, the Sicilian Sea Breeze (a tangy cranberry mocktail) was refreshing, while the Catalina Sunrise (a melon, orange and mango juice concotion) was syrupy sweet.
At the end of our meal, a dish of tiramisu was tempting, but our meal left us wanting for more tummy space! The helpings were lavish and was a struggle for poor eaters like me. So if you have a tiny appetite, I suggest you share a dish with your pal.
All in all, it was a perfect beginning to our lazy weekend. So the next time you head to the festival city, make sure you keep some free tummy space for Carino's!
Bill for 4:
Sicilian Fire Sticks Dh45
Homemade Baked Lasagna Dh48
Grilled New York Strip Dh66
Spicy Shrimp & Chicken Dh49
Chicken Milano Dh48
Sicillian Sea Breeze Dh18
Catalina Sunrise Dh18
Coca Cola (2) Dh16
Carino's, Dubai Festival City042325744
Published in e+, Gulf News (December18-25,2008)