Carmine’s Restaurant Review by Shelika Drummond
The first Carmine’s opened on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and became a trendsetter for Italian dinner houses. The artistically arranged pictures, long dark red curtains, and deep gold brown walls created an antique flavor of the 1920’s to the 1940’s, suggesting the restaurant had “been around for a very long time” (Carmine’s, 2011). The establishment became a booming hit, known for its oversized portions at reasonable prices. Soon, the owner, Artie Cutler, began to invest in more locations and found himself with a multi-international restaurant. Even now, it “is currently one of Broadway’s longest running hits!” (Carmine’s, 2011)
Within 20 years, Carmine’s, a family-oriented Italian restaurant, rooted itself not only in New York, but also Nassau, the Bahamas, New Jersey, Atlantic City, and Washington D.C. Restaurateur Artie Cutler, creator of Carmine’s had a goal in mind, to offer meals ” in the style of an Italian American wedding feast… and serve platters designed for sharing” (Carmine’s, 2011). His goal created the warm, sharing and overall welcoming environment Carmine’s is known for. When a restaurant serves food in large quantities, the quality suffers. Carmine’s is an exception to this rule; each plate deserves at least four stars. The wait staff is not as notable, but still very informative if asked any questions.
Carmine’s serves portions large enough to fill three to four people and provides good quality tasting food. It’s almost like a buffet, but the food is superb. For example, my two young active boy cousins ordered one dish of spaghetti for dinner and just the amount brought a smile to everyone’s face. It was as if you got the largest pot in the house and filled it with spaghetti and sauce twice, before serving it. The large portion makes you give credit to the waiters and waitresses who carry such heavy dishes. My cousins eat so much that I’m sure they could rival the hungry hippos. The capability of the restaurant to fill both of them and have leftovers left me speechless. Thirty-five dollars may be shocking price at first, but when you’re able to see the amount and the impossible being done, it is worth every penny.
Personally, I’m not a fan of Italian restaurants because the pasta dishes are never usually tasty. The sauce is often too light in taste as if not to overpower the pasta that has no taste at all. This happens in Italian restaurants like Olive Garden and Subarro’s. Carmine’s is very different. The taste screams 5 stars, but since there’s no such thing as perfection, it’s bumped down to 4.5. Even though the portions and taste are supreme, visual-wise, the dishes look uncreative. Carmine’s gives a lot of food, but the goal is to attract customers, and pretty plates with creative arrangements of food are a start. For example, their strawberry shortcake is simply a tall pyramid of whip cream with strawberry pieces stuck awkwardly to the sides on a single piece of cake. It looks as if no attempt was made to create a design, but despite the unprofessional look, the homemade whip cream and sweet strawberries are delicious.
Within the bustling streets of New York City, specifically on the Upper West Side, sits the first Carmine’s. Even though the city is known for its continuous stream of people, Carmine’s is bound to be overlooked normally in a shopping district. More so, there’s better chance for people to choose another restaurant because of the numerous famous restaurants in New York City. In the inside, the walls of the restaurant are scaled with tons and tons of portraits of people and places. One can assume the portraits deal with the history of the restaurant, but unless you’ve been eating there since the 20’s, it’s likely you will not know nor care who the people are. The quantity and arrangement of the pictures are creative and their vintage look complements the deep gold painted walls and long red curtains. Overall, the environment is detailed with remnants of the past. It is interesting for history lovers. The restaurant staff also have the menu hung on the walls instead of handing them out. This was troublesome for my parents, who don’t have the best eyesight. As for the service, it is acceptable, but the staff should remember to warn patrons about the huge portions. The forgetfulness becomes a real problem for unknowing couples who become overwhelmed by the servings. It is a mistake made by the staff that can change a pleasant surprise into a troublesome realization.
Overall, Carmine’s is given 4.5 stars and definitely a place worth visiting if you’re with a big group or hoping for leftovers to last a week. Just about every dish except the strawberry shortcake is a large portion. It’s one of the only dishes that serves for one person. Just make sure to grab a handful of mints on the way out.
Carmine’s: NYC’s Legendary Family Style Restaurant. About Carmine’s. 2011. The Alicart Restaurant Group. Web. 8 Nov. 2011