Carrabba's Italian Grill 

Nothing beats Italian cuisine for providing culinary solace during the an early season frost. It was with such hopes that I ventured out one cold evening to Carrabba's Italian Grill in bucolic Eagle.

No. 1 voice in Waj Nasser's head: What do you call that garbage you just wrote? The only thing bucolic about Eagle is its name. And if driving down Eagle Road is your idea of escaping a busy day, then apparently your day job is fixing Iraq.

No. 2 voice: Don't listen to that. Sometimes it's nice to get away from Boise and take a little drive. And, by the way, Carrabba's is in Meridian.

WN: I'm usually reticent about dining at chain restaurants, but I welcomed the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.

V1: Reticent? I've got an idea Kofi: Quit being diplomatic and tell the truth. You hate chain restaurants, and are as inclined to eat at one as to juggle flaming porcupines with your tongue.

V2: It's only fair to be even-handed and give Carrabba's a chance. Just because it's a chain doesn't mean the employees are less deserving of your business. They're trying to make a living, too.

V1: Shut up. He writes for Boise Weekly--an independent newspaper, for crying out loud. Let corporate papers write about chain restaurants.

WN: The interior of Carrabba's is welcoming and comfortable. I was surprised to find a full bar at one end of the restaurant, complemented by a couple of televisions. The staff was very friendly and anxious to be helpful, especially after finding out I'd never eaten there before.

V1: Gee, I wonder if that pen and paper in your hand had anything to do with their friendliness, Mr. Sneaky Food Reviewer?

V2: Cynic. The wait staff was genuinely kind. Don't pay attention to his zoilism.

V1: It's called realism. Besides, if he liked Carrabba's so much, why hasn't he mentioned the food yet?

WN: For dinner, I had their Italian salad and lasagna. All of their dressings are homemade, and I was proudly informed that options did not include Ranch or Thousand Island. The salad was served in a chilled bowl, the lettuce was crisp and the dressing tasted fresh and tangy.

V1: How banal.

V2: Hush and let him finish!

WN: The salad was delightful.

V1: We've been hijacked by Mr. Rogers.

V2: Shhh!

WN: The lasagna was advertised as "just like mamma used to make." My mother's lasagna didn't leave me feeling like I just clogged my aorta.

V1: That's more like it!

WN: I'm just kidding.

V1: No!

V2: Yes!

WN: While the lasagna did seem quite rich, I can't deny that it was satisfying and that I happily ate all of my serving. Unfortunately, when it came time for dessert, I was satiated and could eat no more.

V1: I don't like that sentence.

V2: Neither do I.

WN: Despite the enticing selection of desserts, my meal had wiped out any semblance of hunger, and I had to pass on a final course.

V1: Choppy.

V2: Yes, but it is getting late--leave it.

WN: I enjoyed Carrabba's, and I think it is a fine choice for those wanting Italian food set in a nice environment along the Eagle Road corridor.

V1: I hope they can read between the lines.

V2: I hope they take it at face value.

--Waj Nasser writes what's on his mind. V1: Does not. V2: Does too.

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