Tag Archives: italian


6 Aug


This might be one of Arlington’s best kept secrets.   Mainly because if I didn’t know it was there, I would probably miss it driving by to the mall.  It’s not in the best location.

But what it IS…is…one of the best damn sammiches I have had in quite a while.

You know I judge a sammich place on their HOT sammiches —I just don’t get the cold sub thing— I can whip up a cold sub at home —What I can’t do is make hot subs with quality meats and cheeses and unique breads.

Ok, I can.  And do.  But …oh just read on…

Firehouse is a very friendly, instantly at home-and-local-feel to it.   They get your order quick and deliver it a few minutes later.  They have a large shelf of just about every time of sauce you could think of to dress your sammich if you prefer.

They also have that stupid soda machine I have battles with – but  I digress.

As I looked around the restaurant, I didn’t see too many people talking.  They were all eating.   That’s a sign of good food when everyone at the table is so busy enjoying it, they can’t even talk.  Or want to.  ha.

I also noticed on cups, flyers, and other places that Firehouse (which was started by two former firefighting brothers) is actively involved in give back and charity programs on local levels.   I think this is great when companies can spend more than a little of their time and wealth to give back.

When they slid that meatball on my tabletop, it was beautiful.   The melted cheese.   The visible amount of seasoning.  The slight char on that bread.  The tasty red sauce bathing those moist meatballs.  Oh I didn’t wanna eat it.   I wanted a poster of it on my wall.

I settled for a picture on my phone, and handled up on this.  It tastes even better than it looks.  Lots of flavor.  The bread is slightly soft and tender but holds onto that plentiful pile of yumminess.

Since this visit, it has become my favorite meatball sandwich in Arlington.  I am calling it right now.  It’s that good.


1001 W Arbrook Blvd, #121, Arlington, TX
Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

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28 Feb
carinos by Junk Food Critic
carinos, a photo by Junk Food Critic on Flickr.

Carino’s Italian seems to be in just about every neighborhood I visit lately. After passing one a couple of days ago, I was reminded that:

A: I haven’t been there in awhile.
B: I haven’t reviewed that joint either.

Once inside, I am reminded of how much I like the layout. The huge open kitchen takes up the back wall. The slightly darker color tones of the painted walls. The softer lighting. It’s got a nice familiar feel to it. I feel very comfortable in this place.

A brief wait, and I slide into a booth with a couple of friends……
….a few minutes later………we are ……
…..still waiting……

…..Now I have this RULE. If I am sitting somewhere and I don’t get a “hello” or any communication from a server in TEN MINUTES, then I leave.

It takes no more than 10 seconds to swing by and let me know you are “in the weeds”. You don’t have to take my drink or food order, but you must give me some sort sign that you are going to be coming to me at some point.

…..so….eleven minutes later….. I am still waiting. Mainly because I can not convince the people I am with to leave. They have no desire to try and find some other place. They are tired and just want some food.

I HATE this… but they are my ride…so…

15 minutes later we meet a server. By this time I am boiling, but for some reason, a manager is nowhere to be found. They aren’t THAT busy. The server was polite and apologized for the delay.

Even though I am upset at the wait, there is NO percentage in staring off my relationship with this server with me bitchin’ about the wait.

They DID apologize after all, but it’s at this point that I remember WHY I do not go to Carino’s more often…..


And like a bad dream I also have a flashback to my last visit to this location (Grand Prairie). I had great food but a terribly neglectful server.

I walked by the manager on my way out after dinner, and told him of how disappointing my visit had been.

“Oh, sorry to hear that. Maybe next time will be better.”

I couldn’t believe my ears….

And here I am back in the exact same position. Isn’t insanity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

…..so ten minutes later we get our drinks and our order taken. A basked of fresh bread quickly arrives.

TWENTY MINUTES later our food arrives.

It’s bittersweet because the food is loaded with flavor and seasoning. My parm fries were great and the sammich was crisp,crunchy, and just about perfect.

My other friends dishes looked just as yummy and by the end of our meal we were completely stuffed and satisfied.

BUT – jeez…. our waitress couldn’t have been less interested in our table. At some point a manager passed and saw our empty bread basked AND empty drinks and stopped to scoop them up for refills.

What I notice is Carino’s, like most restaurants, have servers that are usually young twenty-somethings.

This is not a bad thing – but I do see a fair amount of servers that have this routine. They stop at their tables, then walk around the corner and draw their smartphones out of their aprons and spend the next few minutes responding to txt messages or checking their facebook pages.

Then they lose track of time and are startled back to reality and rush back over to pissed off tables.

It’s kinda sad really. I do find their dishes on the “pricey” side of most other casual italian restaurants BUT I absolutely have NO trouble going out of my way or paying for quality.

What I do NOT do is support bad behavior. So despite how much I like their food, I can see it being quite awhile before I feel like putting myself through the drama.
Johnny Carino's Country Italian on Urbanspoon
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23 Jan
OG by Junk Food Critic
OG, a photo by Junk Food Critic on Flickr.

As I was online, catching up on CELEBRITY APPRENTICE

(I will give you a minute to make jokes)

online at NBC.com. I love catching up on previous episodes on my time, online.

That being said, something kept popping up during the show. Commercials for OLIVE GARDEN. Ten of them. In fact, OG was the only commercial they played. I am guessing OG gets exclusivity or something to these online episodes.

Hearing the same commercial ten times in an hour, you pick up things.

Apparently, Olive Garden has a “culinary school” in Tuscany.

This seemed sort of odd, that they would send their people to Tuscany to learn how to open giant salad bags, butter pre-made breadsticks, or create any of their simple and ordinary dishes.

(sorry, but I have talked to a few people that have worked at OG, and they say alot of their stuff is premade. Not “freshly” prepared dishes)

Now, a quick spin around the internet tells me that is “kinda” true. OG DOES have a culinary program, entitled The Olive Garden Culinary Institute of Tuscany.


In reality, it’s an 11 week course that OG chefs/managers attend. The rest of the year, the place is used for other purposes.

I give OG for trying to improve their much maligned rep, but is an 11 week vacation for the managers really gonna improve the taste, and in return, bring the customers back??

And this is coming from someone who had their fair share of nights at Olive Garden. It’s the type of place that I try every so often, hoping it will get better. Unfortunately the last three visits there weren’t great; food or service wise. It is very tough to find GOOD italian food when you move somewhere new.

More often than not, if I am in a new town traveling, and I ask where is good Italian food, I will almost always hear, WELL, THERE IS AN OLIVE GARDEN up on….blah blah..

Now, truth be told, I like Olive Garden’s salad. But I don’t find their “signature” dishes to be anything I couldn’t find in my local grocer’s freezer.

Maybe my tastes are changing as I get older, but most of their stuff just tastes so bland and corporate. Processed and generic.

And now that I write this, I am having a craving for their salad.