I have heard about Carinos for a while now; everyone raving just how wonderful the food is… I am inclined to agree.
Depending upon the time of arrival, Carinos can be loud. Very loud.
It is an obvious family restaurant, with young kids running around happily squealing. If you don’t like the sound of happy children laughing then I suggest arriving later in the evening; by about 7PM the majority of families had left and only groups with more behaved older children (or no children) were left.
Furthermore, whilst its nice having a direct view into the kitchen to watch the chefs cooking your food fresh, it’s not nice to actually hear the banging of pots and pans.
Carinos caters well for both the majority of arabs (and arabic speaking) population and the English-speaking visitors. If you are served an arabic menu, and you can’t read or speak it, then have no qualms about asking for the English menus.
Fresh Bread and Dipping Oils
I think this is the best bread that I have ever eaten. No joke. It was amazing.
Either this bread was fairly fresh out of the oven, or the Carinos chefs knows ways to make morning-baked bread taste just superb. Hot from the oven – so hot that when it was first brought out and we pulled a chunk off it actually steamed.
Subtle herbs that you only noticed just a hint of flavour…
Then there was that dipping sauce.
The waiter bought a plate of herbs and something… Honestly I don’t know what the chunks are. Then, with a bottle, they generously poured oil onto the plate. Dipping oils, that are delicious. My most common experience for accompaniments with bread is balsamic vinegar and oil, or butter. I want to add this concoction to my list of accompaniments that I would like to see served more regularly.
There are a lot of things on the menu that are tempting, particularly under the appetizer section. The Combo Appetizer is the perfect solution; it contains samplers for the Fire sticks, Hand-Breaded Calamari and Fried Mozzarella Stick. Now when I say samplers, I honestly don’t mean tiny portions. We served the appetizers between six people – each nibbling away (some… aka me… more than others).
I thought the Fire sticks would be hard, crunchy or crispy, but instead they were pleasantly chewy. As far as I can tell the Fire sticks were made predominately of chicken and cheese. The description on the menu also included italian sausage, bacon (this description I found on the american website), Roma tomatoes, jalapeños.
The Calamari was chewy, whilst the hand-breaded crumbs provided this wonderful slight crispness. The herbs blended perfectly. I particularly loved dipping the calamari into the marinara sauce. It also tasted wonderful with a dribble of lemon.
The Mozzarella was amazing. I have never had fried mozzarella, at least not like that. It had been crumbed and fried, with a wonderful flavour. It was admittedly the last thing we tried on the platter, thus it had time to cool. The soft cheese inside still managed to very slowly dribble out when bitten, and I think this effect would have been even more amazing if it was one of the first things we tried.
At a cost of 5.2KD (AU$17.58), it is a little expensive… but so worth it! Just splash out and get it.
Chicken Penne Gorgonzola
Chicken strips, mushrooms, penne pasta and creamy gorgonzola sauce topped with fresh Roma tomatoes. The pasta itself was cooked to perfection; not too hard but nor too soft. The chicken was in long strips, that sort of disappeared into the sauce due to the same color. The mushrooms were soft and juicy. The Roma tomatoes added a nice touch and a hint of flavour. And this is where my biggest gripe with the meal came in. There was practically no gorgonzola flavour. Chunks to provide a sudden burst of flavour would have been nice, or just a general all over flavour. It was just a constant creamy sauce. It wasn’t bad, but I was hopeful for something stronger. After a while it became a bit… bland.
At 5.2KD (AU$17.58), this meal isn’t cheap. If it was closer to 4.4KD (AU$15) I would be more tempted to buy again. However, if you are after a pasta, its not a bad choice.
Drinks – Classic Peach Bellini
The Classic Peach Bellini had an obvious strong peach flavour. From memory it also contained grape juice, but this wasn’t really noticeable. It wasn’t really frozen solid, like ice, but rather more in a soft slushy form. This is actually preferable as it made the drink far more drinkable.
The drink cost 2KD (AU$6.76). For its price I would say its worth it. However, I tried my husband’s drink called Silvi Colada which consisted of coconut, pineapple and papaya and that is SO much better.
The Dessert – Apple Skilletini
Similar to my grandmother’s apple pies that I grew up with, this meal consists of a pastry base containing cinnamon-apples and topped with vanilla ice-cream all served on a hot plate. It’s delicious. I kind of want one now… homesickness (or perhaps just missing my grandmother’s cooking)!
The apples were just firm; you could easily cut them with your spoon. The cinnamon flavouring is just perfect. The pastry base crumbly. The biggest problem I found was the hot plate. The ice-cream would slip off the top of the apple pie, and as soon as it came in contact with the hot plate it would not only melt but bubble. I kind of like being able to eat my ice-cream… Its ice-cream, not cream. Furthermore, if you let the apple pie sit too long – or the plate is too hot – the bottom of the pie actually blackens and burns.
Otherwise, this dessert was amazing!
The website also described Fire sticks and marinara sauce as being spicy. I honestly didn’t find this to be a problem. I am a big child when it comes to spicy food; “I like spices but not spicy“. There was a hint of spicy, but even I could handle it (therefore from my experience I would say that kids could even handle it).
Can I give this place my recommendation? Definitely. I loved my experience at Carino’s, and I can see why my husband’s family have been going there since he was young. Whilst it might not be a great place for a business like meeting (where you need quiet), if you are looking for a fun place to eat great food then you know just where to go.