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Bites Nearby: Carrabba's Italian Grill

Families and friends can relax in this casual spot nearby.

Take a menu full of hearty Italian dishes, add an “exhibition kitchen” so diners can see what’s cooking, toss in a healthy dose of bustling energy, and—oh, yeah—trees and bushes on the roof, and you’ll have Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

The chain, founded in Houston in 1986, now has about 200 locations across the United States. The local Carrabba’s restaurant is on S. Cedar Crest at Hamilton Blvd. Dinner is served seven days a week, with lunch only on Sundays.

Carside carry-out is available for phone and online orders, with dedicated parking spaces for quick pick-up. The menu features brick oven pizzas and a selection of more formal entrees, plus antipasti, soup, salad and dessert.

The aptly named Italian Classics entrée pairs chicken parmesan and lasagne. There are Stuffed Pastas (Mezzaluna-half-moon ravioli with chicken, ricotta and spinach in tomato sauce), Founder’s Pastas (Pasta Carrabba- fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms and peas), and Signature Pastas (Linguine Pescatore- shrimp, sea scallops and mussels with linguine in spicy marinara sauce).

Chicken, sirloin, pork chops and veal are served with marsala sauce in small or regular portions. From the wood-burning grill, there’s Chicken Bryan (topped with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil lemon butter sauce) and Trout Nocciola (lightly breaded, with hazelnuts, roma tomatoes and basil lemon butter sauce).

At Carrabba’s, guests can choose from a few dozen wines (pairings are suggested on the specials menu), available by the glass, bottle or quartino, which is an individual carafe that makes it more economical to try something new. Desserts do come in regular portions sizes, but many diners find that the “little kisses,” mini desserts in tall shot glasses for $2.25 each, are just right.

510 S. Cedar Crest Blvd., Allentown, PA 18103. 610 439-6100.

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