The original Carolina’s is located off Chapman in Garden Grove. This local favorite has been around since 1978, serving up hearty portions. I used to visit often with my ex, back in the day you went next door to the liquor store to get your wine. The down side was I never cared for their tiny parking lot.
On March 24, Carolina’s officially opened an Anaheim location, north of Disneyland off Harbor Blvd. between Ball Road and Vermont, adjacent to a Ramada hotel. It used to be a Carrows restaurant and the exterior still resembles the old coffee shop. The restaurant added a new coat of paint, upgraded the booths and furniture and added Italian murals, music and pictures to the decor.
I went to check out the new location and we stopped on a Thursday night at 6:00 pm. We parked behind the restaurant, which is shared with the hotel. My biggest concern about the parking would be during the summer when Disneyland is in peak season, and the hotel guests would take the parking spots. Fortunately, on this night there were plenty of spots.
We were greeted warmly by the hostess and she sat us at a booth near the window facing Harbor Blvd. Our drink order was taken and moments later another person came to take our order. He explained that he also worked at the Chapman location, and suggested some items. For appetizers he said the bruschetta was a popular choice and for entree, a cream based pasta or a seafood pasta.
We went with the bruschetta, the bowtie pasta with peas (similar to a carbonara) and the linguine vongole (clams). The pastas also came with soup (minestrone) or salad and complimentary house cheese bread.
The house cheese bread was a meal in itself! I could have paired it with soup and been satisfied. Plenty of melted mozzarella and garlic. The bruschetta was terrific! The bread was light and toasted perfectly, brushed lightly with olive oil and the tomatoes/basil was nice and refreshing. I really didn’t touch my salad, but it was made fresh to order, served with a side of creamy Italian dressing. Karen enjoyed her minestrone soup, and said it was piping hot.
The entrees came fairly quick after the starters. Our pasta bowls were huge, easily enough for 2 people to share. The bowtie pasta was really good… creamy, garlicky sauce with plenty of pancetta and peas, served over al dente pasta. The linguine came with a generous serving of clams on the shell, and ladled on the pasta were additional clams.
The entrees were delicious but like any good Italian place: lots and lots of garlic (and onions) used! With a garlic filled mouth, I was anticipating sharing a dessert and coffee with Karen but was never offered that option. The staff cleared our dishes and asked if we wanted to take any leftovers and then we were handed the check. We never got to see a dessert menu at all. What was more disappointing was walking outside and seeing huge mural painted on the building to not miss their tiramisu. Sadly, it’ll have to wait til next time.