Americans are infamous for doing Italian food wrong. Have we not cracked the “authentic Italian food” code or have deliberately Americanized it to make it more suitable for our palate can be debated.
But, authentic or not, we can surely make delicious Italian food. Carrabba’s is an example of it.
The restaurant serves Italian food with a western flare. From pasta and wood-fired pizza to grilled meats and seafood dishes, you can find some of the best Italian and American comfort foods here. But, is there anything for vegans here?
Keep reading as we discuss everything about Carrabba’s vegan options to know if we, plant-eaters, can eat anything here.
Does Carrabba’s have Vegan Options?
First things first – before we discuss anything about eating vegan at Carrabba’s, we have to determine if the restaurant has any plant-based options on the menu or offers the option to place custom orders. Turns out, it does (fortunately).
Now that we know there is something for us at the restaurant, let’s dig into Carrabba’s menu to shortlist foods suitable for the vegan diet or can be made so upon request.
What’s Vegan at Carrabba’s Italian Grill?
Vegan options at Carrabba’s include the following:
- Bread with Oil and Herbs
- House Side Salad
- Italian Side Salad
- Linguine Positano
- Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce
- Whole Grain Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce
- Gluten-Free Casarecce Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce
- Some Sides
This is the list of “approved” vegan items provided by the restaurant itself. As stated on Carrabba’s official vegan menu, the list doesn’t include any fried foods because they are cross-contaminated with animal ingredients due to shared fryers.
If you don’t mind eating foods cooked in shared equipment, ask the server at your local Carrabba’s for available options.
Keep reading to learn more about these Carrabba’s vegan menu items as well as the foods that do not come standard as vegan, but can be made so with a few modifications as per my research.
Carrabba’s Vegan Options – A Detailed Overview
Here’s everything that you can eat at Carrabba’s like a vegan:
Carrabba’s Vegan Appetizers
There is only one vegan-friendly appetizer on Carrabba’s menu, as per the restaurant itself, and that is:
Bread with Oil and Herbs
You don’t necessarily need fancy ingredients and complex recipes to make good food. Sometimes, even the simplest of foods made with the most basic ingredients can taste incredible.
Bread with herb oil is an example of that. Simple yet delicious, this vegan appetizer at Carrabba’s will offer just the right start to your meal.
It may not be a big thing to others, but for us vegans, it’s such a relief that the bread at Carrabba’s is vegan-friendly because it isn’t the case everywhere.
It’s sad that vegan bread hasn’t become a norm yet in American restaurants. So, bread lovers like me make the most of it wherever it is available.
Carrabba’s vegan menu only mentions Bread with Oil and Herbs as a suitable appetizer for vegans. But, you can also get Bread & Dipping Sauce Trio from the standard menu.
As the name of the dish says, it has bread with three types of sauce. Just one of them is vegan, though, and that is the marinara sauce.
You may also get marinara sauce separately with your appetizer order of Bread with Oil and Herbs.
Carrabba’s Vegan Salads
Carrabba’s has a few different types of salads. Two of them are classified as vegan by the restaurant itself. However, I believe that most others can be customized as per the vegan diet too.
But, whether one would want to go through that hassle or not is a different debate altogether.
Let’s first discuss the two salads at Carrabba’s that are confirmed vegan on their own (excluding the dressing). These include:
House Side Salad
This is your good ol’ side salad with a little Italian twist. It’s made with romaine lettuce, shredded red cabbage, carrots, Kalamata olives, and pepperoncini (Italian hot chili peppers).
Italian Side Salad
This vegan salad at Carrabba’s is a mix of romaine lettuce, Kalamata olives, and garden vegetables.
It comes standard with Italian vinaigrette dressing, which doesn’t seem to fit the vegan dietary guidelines because it’s not included in the list of vegan salad dressings provided by the restaurant (find it below).
Carrabba’s Salads That Can Be Made Vegan with Modifications
As mentioned earlier, Carrabba’s Italian Grill only has two confirmed vegan salads (excluding the dressing). The following are some others that I believe can be made vegan upon request with instructions on how to go about it:
If you want to order a vegan salad at Carrabba’s other than the two mentioned above, this one is my top recommendation. It feels totally worth getting customized.
Carrabba’s Mediterranean Salad comes standard with mixed greens, romaine lettuce, red onions, artichokes, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, salmon, and pesto vinaigrette.
When ordering it vegan, ask them to leave out the salmon and get the pesto vinaigrette swapped with a vegan alternative.
Tuscan Strawberry Salad
This refreshing, slightly sweet, tangy, nutty salad makes another good option to place a custom order for. It originally includes three non-vegan ingredients – chicken, gorgonzola cheese, and strawberry vinaigrette.
So, when eating vegan, ask your server to remove these from your order. You will be left with a mix of salad greens, red onions, tomatoes, fresh strawberries, and toasted pine nuts.
Don’t forget to order a vegan dressing on the side for more flavor.
Johnny Rocco Salad
A less interesting option than the two mentioned above, but an option nonetheless. It comes standard with shrimps, scallops, Ricotta Salata, and Italian vinaigrette.
Ask them to hold the first three elements and replace the third one with a vegan-friendly vinaigrette. You will be left with mixed greens, romaine lettuce, olives, roasted red peppers, and a vegan dressing of your choice.
Shrimp, Orzo, & Arugula Salad
As the name says, this Carrabba’s salad contains shrimps, arugula, and orzo as the core ingredients. There are only two more – roasted tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette.
When ordering vegan, you obviously need to hold onto shrimps. But, you will also have to get the lemon vinaigrette replaced because it doesn’t appear in the list of vegan dressings provided by the restaurant.
For those who may not know, orzo is a type of pasta that is almost always vegan. But, you may further ensure its vegan status with your server.
Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad
As evident from the name, chicken is the star ingredient of this Carrabba’s salad, which you obviously can’t have on the vegan diet. When that is removed, you are just left with arugula, red onions, roasted tomatoes, panko, parmesan shavings, and lemon vinaigrette.
When ordering vegan at Carrabba’s, you will have to exclude parmesan and lemon vinaigrette from this salad too. Panko is nearly always vegan. But, I would still recommend confirming with your server once, just to be on the safe side.
Carrabba’s Vegan Pasta
If you’re at Carrabba’s for some Italian pasta, you’re in luck. The restaurant has a few plant-based options for vegans.
Here are your options for vegan pasta at Carrabba’s Italian Grill as per the official vegan menu:
A newer item on the menu, this vegan pasta has crushed tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
You get the option to add chicken or shrimp in it at a small additional cost, but it doesn’t come standard with meat or any other animal ingredient, making it a perfect option for vegan diners at Carrabba’s.
Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce
This vegan pasta dish at Carrabba’s is just what its name tells. Spaghetti tossed with Pomodoro sauce.
For those who may not know, Pomodoro sauce is a classic Italian tomato-based sauce made with similar ingredients to marinara (and hence, is often confused with it, too), but the two are different.
On the face, Pomodoro is thicker and has a smooth texture as opposed to chunky marinara.
Whole Grain Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce
Prefer to eat healthily, but badly craving pasta? Get the Whole Grain Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce at Carrabba’s.
The dish is essentially the same as the one mentioned above (Spaghetti with Pomodoro Sauce), but a little healthier with whole grain spaghetti instead of the regular one.
Gluten-Free Casarecce Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce
This is another version of the same dish directed toward vegans who also avoid gluten for any reason. It has gluten-free pasta smothered in thick, rich Pomodoro sauce prepared in-house from scratch every day.
While these are the only pasta options on Carrabba’s vegan menu, I feel you may get Rigatoni Campagnolo customized for your vegan diet, too, upon request. The pasta dish originally comes with Italian sausage and cheese.
But, since Carrabba’s management boast that they make everything fresh upon ordering, you may get these eliminated from your order.
With these omissions, you’ll be left with rigatoni pasta tossed with Pomodoro sauce and red bell pepper. It’s not much different from the standard vegan pasta options, but it is an option.
Carrabba’s Vegan Sides
If you do not want to go through the hassle of placing a custom order, but would love some vegetables in your pasta, you can get any of the standard vegan options with your choice of vegetable sides from the following.
Mix them up on your own to enjoy a more flavorful, rich, and a bit more nutritious vegan pasta dish at Carrabba’s.
Your vegan side options at Carrabba’s include:
- Sautéed Broccoli
- Steamed Broccoli
- Sautéed Spinach
- Steamed Spinach
- Grilled Asparagus
There is also a side of Penne Pomodoro available. It’s also vegan, but you may only want to order such a small serving of pasta if you have a kid with you or aren’t hungry but want to try Carrabba’s vegan food.
Carrabba’s sides menu also includes Parmesan Truffle Fries, which you may order for yourself, without parmesan, of course, if you don’t mind eating food cooked in shared equipment; in this case, shared fryer and oil.
Carrabba’s Vegan Salad Dressings
Here’s the list of vegan-friendly salad dressings provided by the restaurant itself, so it’s better to stick to these options only and avoid others:
- Light Balsamic Dressing
- Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinegar
- Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Carrabba’s Vegan Beverages
Carrabba’s has quite an extensive beverages menu, including both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Here are your vegan-friendly choices:
- Diet Coke
- Dr. Pepper
- Italian Sodas – Sparkling beverages with a splash of fruit flavor. Available in Raspberry and Orange flavors.
- Housemade Lemonade
- Hot Tea
- Decaf Coffee
- Fresh Brewed Iced Tea
- Arnold Palmer – Made with housemade lemonade and iced tea.
- Cosmopolitan – Absolut Citron vodka and Triple Sec.
- Pomegranate Martini – Absolut Apeach vodka, orange juice, pomegranate syrup, cherry.
- Appletini – Absolut vodka, Limoncello, Mint sprigs, and freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Chianti Kiss – Solerno Blood Orange Sicily liqueur, Captain Morgan and Disaronno original spiced run, Cranberry juice, Pineapple juice, Chianti.
- Razzamatini – Stoli Razberi vodka, Chambord, Sweet and Sour, black berries.
- Limonfresca – Absolut Citron vodka, Limoncello, Mint sprigs, and freshly squeezed lemon juice
Signature Italian Sangrias
- Classic Red – Bonizio Rosso, brandy, cinnamon
- Blackberry – Bonzito Rosso, blackberry infused Tuaca, citrus, vanilla
- Peach – Absolut Apeach, Citronge, Bonizio Bianco, Orange juice, Cranberry juice
In addition to these beverages, Carrabba’s offers a huge variety of wines and quite a good range of domestic, imported, and craft beers.
Some More Carrabba’s Foods That May Be Made Vegan
As I mentioned earlier in the article, some food options at Carrabba’s do not come standard as vegan-friendly but can be made meatless, dairy-free, and egg-free upon request.
Some of those items have already been discussed above, but here are a couple more that do not fit in any of the above categories:
Listed in the “Small Plates” category of Carrabba’s dinner menu, this, as the name tells, is a type of Italian bruschetta made with oven-baked ciabatta bread, tomatoes, red onions, olive oil marinated Kalamata olives, oregano, fresh basil, red wine vinegar, and ricotta Salata.
Considering that ciabatta bread is mostly vegan, I believe you can have this food item made vegan simply by asking them to hold the ricotta Salata.
This dish contains breadcrumbs. Presuming that they are vegan-friendly (considering Carrabba’s breads are vegan), this dish can be ordered vegan by asking them to hold all types of cheese.
This will leave you with layers of eggplant slices coated with seasoned breadcrumbs and smothered in housemade Pomodoro sauce.
Don’t forget to confirm the vegan status of ciabatta bread and breadcrumbs with your server before ordering these items.
Carrabba’s Vegan Menu FAQs
Even though we have discussed all the Carrabba’s foods that are or can be made vegan, it’s better we answer some common questions people ask about the vegan options at Carrabba’s Italian Grill to avoid confusion and clear the air once and for all.
- Is Carrabba’s Minestrone soup vegan?
According to the restaurant and most third-party sources, Carrabba’s minestrone soup contains dairy and hence, is not vegan-friendly.
However, while researching this, I came across a review on TripAdvisor that said the minestrone soup at Carrabba’s in Portage, Michigan is vegan-friendly. Although it’s an old review, you may want to ask your server if their minestrone soup is vegan-friendly.
- Is Carrabba’s bread vegan?
It is. The restaurant lists Bread with Oil and Herbs as a vegan-friendly option, which clearly means that their bread doesn’t contain eggs, dairy, and/or animal fat.
- Does Carrabba’s pasta have eggs?
Carrabba’s has a few vegan pasta dishes, which means the different varieties of pasta used in them are egg-free and vegan-friendly. These include linguine, spaghetti, whole-grain spaghetti, gluten-free casacrecce, and penne. For other varieties, check with your server. They may also be vegan, but it’s better to confirm.
- Does Carrabba’s have vegan pizza?
Sadly, no. Carrabba’s doesn’t offer any plant-based pizza. It does not even have vegan-friendly pizza dough, so you can’t make your own vegan pizza either.
Some unofficial sources say that Carrabba’s pizza dough is vegan at some of its locations. So, you may want to ask at your local Carrabba’s outlet. If their pizza dough turns out to be vegan-friendly, they may make a veggie pizza for you upon request.
You will have to compromise with a cheeseless pizza, though. There isn’t any vegan cheese at Carrabba’s Italian Grill.
If your local Carrabba’s doesn’t have vegan-friendly pizza dough and you can’t find a good vegan pizza elsewhere either, how about making your own at home? Check out the following video for some simple yet great vegan pizza recipes…
Conclusion – Is Carrabba’s Vegan-Friendly?
Err… it’s a little difficult to answer this. While Carrabba’s has some vegan-friendly food choices, you can’t say it’s a super vegan-friendly place for various reasons.
Firstly, Carrabba’s vegan menu comes with a declaration that all plant-based items are cooked in the same space as the foods containing animal ingredients.
Secondly, there is no vegan pizza, and it’s an Italian restaurant. This can be a bummer to many vegans (it is for me). Lastly, you don’t really have a great variety of vegan foods here. Your options basically only include a few salads and pasta.
For these reasons, Carrabba’s Italian Grill doesn’t make an exciting option for me. I wouldn’t want to go here unless I am badly craving pasta and can’t find vegan-friendly options anywhere else or accompanying my non-vegan friends or family members who insist on eating here.
However, as they say, you do you. If you want to go to Carrabba’s, there’s no one stopping you, and you know your options.
Having said it all, one thing that needs to be appreciated is Carrabba’s willingness to accommodate their customers’ special dietary needs.
Not only the restaurant has vegetarian and vegan options, but it also says that they try to accommodate all their customers’ special dietary needs to the best of their ability.
“Our culinary team will strive to accommodate your special dietary needs to currently offered meals,” says the official statement on Carrabba’s vegan menu.
Carrabba’s deserves to be appreciated for it.
They are at least willing to accommodate their customers’ unique needs, which shows they respect people’s choices, unlike some other restaurants that neither offer plant-based options nor are willing to accommodate any special requests from their customers.
Did you find this article helpful? Interested to learn about vegan options at other Italian eateries too? Check out my article Olive Garden Vegan Options to know what this leading Italian chain restaurant has in store for you.