Carolina’s Italian Restaurant is Big on Pasta, Big on Beer

Carolina’s Italian Restaurant has been serving Italian food to Orange County residents and visitors for more than 35 years.  With the continued success of their Garden Grove location, the family-owned operation has expanded to a new location in nearby Anaheim.  During the Memorial Day weekend, Nicole and I stopped by the Anaheim restaurant to try some of their homemade pasta dishes and more.*

0 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_142305_HDRIs This a Bottle Shop or an Italian Restaurant?

Entering the restaurant, guests might be surprised to see a wall with row after row of beer bottles in glass-doored refrigerators.  Along with serving up great Italian fare, Carolina’s is also known for having more than 400 different bottled beers available.

1 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_140247With that type of stock on hand, some might consider Carolina’s a bottle shop instead of a pasta place!  Indeed, I confirmed with our server that bottles were available for sale as carry-out packages in addition to enjoying them in house.

With many beers to choose from, I decided on a Lost Coast Downtown Brown ale.   Nicole went for a wine-based selection and ordered their berry infused sangria.  Both were served in 20 oz. frosted mugs which gave an idea of the portion sizes to come.

1.2 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_131443Wine lovers will profit from a variety of wines to choose from priced at $6.95 by the glass.


For an appetizer we selected Carolina’s Famous Meatballs ($8.99) topped with homemade marinara sauce.  It was a great start to the meal, especially paired with the cheesy, garlicky bread that comes complimentary for the table.  The meatballs were tender and moist while the breadstick provided the perfect utensil for swabbing up the marinara sauce.

2 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_132323

3 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_132633Entrees

Moving on to the entrees, we decided to start with the Linguine Vongole ($18.99).  Simply translated as “linguine with clams”, the Vongole was prepared with clams, onions, and garlic in a white wine sauce over a bed of linguine.  Being seafood lovers, this was a real treat as the dish was full of clam flavor all the way through the sauce and noodles.  While there were plenty of clams on the bowl, a nice touch on was having additional clam meat on top of the dish adding even more flavor and substance … without having the shell the clams manually!

4 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_133506Next up was the Penne Francescana with sausage ($15.98) which was suggested to us by our server.  He mentioned that it was a good choice if we liked creamy sauces and tomato based sauces as they mix an Alfredo with a red sauce, both made in house.  I was vary at first but didn’t want to get into analysis paralysis from the many options to choose from.  I’m glad I followed his lead.

5 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_133526After one bite of the penne, I could see the genius behind blending a bit of the tomato sauce with the Alfredo; the result was a sauce that was smooth and creamy with both cheese and tomato flavors rounding of the taste profile.  It was no surprise to learn from other staff members that the penne Francescana was one of their favorite dishes.

Another nice diversion from the typical Italian fare was Carolina’s house salad dressing.  It was a creamy style Italian dressing with a bit of red wine vinegar.

6 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_133115Dessert

Of course, no full Italian meal is complete without a satisfying dessert to finish it off.  Carolina’s menu makes that easily approachable with a variety of dishes to choose from, all priced at just $4.99.  The selection included tiramisu, cannoli, chocolate mousse cake, cheesecakes, and spumoni ice cream.

7 Carolinas_Anaheim_20160529_140634Plan to Share or Plan For Left-overs

Carolina’s provides diners with a cozy, approachable dining environment and fresh, homemade Italian food.  They also provide portions that are easily shareable!  Bringing a friend or three to share a couple dishes would be a great idea.  Even then, you might want to strategize the to-go boxes and you could still have left overs.

With great service, a seriously long beer list, and plenty of homemade Italian food to choose from (we didn’t even get to the pizzas on this visit), I’ll be looking forward to my next visit to Carolina’s.

* Some of the items mentioned in this review were provided on a complimentary basis for the purpose of this review.

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.

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