Carino’s Way ?

1 Jan

First let me say, before this article gets going… I like Carino’s food.   I have written about them three times.  Here.  Here. and Here.   What you will notice is I am always liking the food.  It’s the service that usually reminds me to NEVER go back.

This time?  It’s the MANAGER.  Let me back up and hit ya with the full scoop.

I am at the Grand Prairie location with some friends doing some Holiday shopping.   I haven’t been to Carino’s since my last review – and it sounded good.  And it was close.  So it was all my idea.

The waiter was spot-on.  Nice.  Attentive.  Friendly.   Unfortunately I threw him a curve-ball when I saw a new menu item.   They have this dish called SAN MARZANO CHICKEN RAVIOLI.  The menu describes it as :   Smoked chicken stuffed pasta in our homemade tomato sauce with sliced chicken and fresh basil.  

This sounded excellent.  Smoked chicken?  San Marzano sauce?   YUM!  And look at what I got.   It looked fantastic.

Even though it was 15 dollars for 6 ravioli and six slices of chicken…it looked great.

Even though the menu says it comes with fresh basil…and you see no basil there….nor did I get any….it still looked great.

Even though the plate (upper right) has char-dust or dirt or some kind of black material around the edge of the plate-making-me-think-it’s-a-dirty-plate….it still looked great.

And it was great.  The chicken on top was warm and tender.  The shredded cheese and tomato sauce and ravioli were all coming together.  It was the third ravioli where I ran into trouble.  I bite into something hard.  Like tooth-rattling hard.   I spit out the food and start pulling it apart with my knife and fork.   I am signalling for my waiter.

There are dark-green chunks in this ravioli that my knife and fork can’t even cut.   It looks like artichoke stems or something.

“Can you tell me what is in this food?  Like what is inside the ravioli?”


It’s obviously more than just chicken so I ask for the manager.   The manager  (he never identifies himself and after asking two servers and one hostess for his full name…so I could contact Carino’s corporate office and inform them on how RUDE this guy ended up being)…..  I gave up on the name.

“Manager” comes over to the table and looks at it and is surprised.  “Hmmm… I have never seen that before.”  He says.

“Can someone tell me what exactly I am eating?  The menu states :    Smoked chicken stuffed pasta in our homemade tomato sauce with sliced chicken and fresh basil.”

“Manager” tells me he will be right back.   He returns with a prop and continues to tell me how WEIRD it is and how he has never seen that before.   His prop?  An uncooked ravioli that he cut in half to show me what is inside.

“We don’t make our own ravioli in-house – but I checked the ingredient list and it says it should be celery, cheese, and chicken.”

If it is celery, it’s clearly the root of the stalk, which would probably explain this.   What it doesn’t explain is why is it so bloody-hard that it almost chips a tooth?  Also….why is it NOT listed as an ingredient?   “Manager” saying the word “cheese” reminds me even THAT is not listed on the menu.    WHAT THE HELL AM I EATING?   Why is this not listed?

“Can I get you something else, like some spaghetti and meatballs?”  “Manager” asks.    “No, I think I am just …..”

“Hold on…let me check something and I will be right back and take care of this.”

So he just walks off.  Everyone else finished their food.  “Manager” is nowhere to be found.   I ask my server to find “Manager” and my server returns with a message:   “He (manager) told me to tell you that he is in the kitchen, cooking and can’t come out right now.”

This has just hit ridiculous.   “Well, he said he would be right back.   We were in the middle of a conversation.  Could you go get him?.”

Server disappears.  He returns several minutes later and says “He (manager) just took it off your bill.”     I wasn’t looking for a discount, I was looking for answers as to why they serve things that aren’t listed properly on the menu.   Also…why doesn’t anyone in that building know what is in the dishes?  Why couldn’t I get answers?

For “Manager” to just disappear without so-much as an apology during this whole fiasco is the exact reason why I find it impossible to fall in love with this place ….despite the fact I want to fall in love with the place!!!!!!

So many good things about it that I enjoy are often spoiled by a few members of the staff (my server-this-time aside) that are often-times aloof or bored….or busy standing at the computer system sneaking a txt or two… or have little to NO knowledge about their own restaurant menu…wait it’s not so much that they don’t know.  That’s one thing.  Some have this “don’t know…don’t care” attitude that really shines through.  They are just turnin-n-burnin’ tables it seems whenever I visit.


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