Italian dinner Family style at Carmine's in NYC, New York

image of  Carmine's in NYC, New York

There are institutions in NYC and Carmine's is definitely one. It is not just experiencing some good Italian food, but also eating it family style, like you would do at home, sharing huge plates of delicious food, where taste matters more than presentation. So we decided to go there with the Kroners, our Danish friends. Good that we had a reservation, because it was packed, unexpected for a Wednesday night! 

We went to the restaurant on the Upper West Side that is in fact the original restaurant, opened in 1990. This place is huge: I am not sure how many people they seat in the dining room, but it was quite impressive, tables being for four people or more. Well, being two could be challenging considering the quantity of food served, although you can take it home. 

At the entrance is the large bar where you can either wait, drink or eat. 
image of  Carmine's in NYC, New York

Upstairs is the dining room. 
image of Carmine's in NYC, New York

The menu is pretty traditional, so there is no surprise there. As we were six, they suggested to order one appetizer, one pasta and two entrees. We kind of followed their advice, although replacing one entree with a (large) side. 

As we were waiting for our food, they brought us some bread. 
image of bread basket at Carmine's in NYC, New York

The focaccia was just ok for me, tasting a bit stale.


Then came our appetizer: tomato and mozzarella. 
image of tomato and mozzarella salad at Carmine's in NYC, New York

Nice plate: the star was definitely the mozzarella that they make there. It was soft and tasted fresh. 

Then came the spaghetti (store bought) and meatballs that were the size of my fist. 
image of spaghetti and meatballs at Carmine's in NYC, New York

Coincidently, there were six meatballs; I am not sure if they considered one by person or not. These meatballs were delicious: tasty, not dry with a delicious hint of herbs. 
image of spaghetti and meatballs at Carmine's in NYC, New York

The pasta sauce was succulent: thick, it is not just made with tomatoes, but also with beef, and you may end up with delicious pieces of meat in your plate. We all finished our plates, regretting that there was not more. 

Then came the chicken saltimbocca:
image of chicken saltimbocca at Carmine's in NYC, New York

It is chicken breast cooked with ham and mozzarella, served on a bed of spinach and bathed in a wine sauce. I was not that thrilled by the spinach (I prefer them with cream to offset the bitterness), but really liked the chicken that was perfectly cooked. 

Last was our side: eggplant parmigiana. 
image of eggplant parmigiana at Carmine's in NYC, New York

Ok, they call it a side there...It was definitely big, with an impressive presentation, a knife stuck on the thick block formed by the multiple layers. It was delicious, the eggplant really shining. I just regret that there was not more tomato sauce on it. 
image of eggplant parmigiana at Carmine's in NYC, New York

Needless to say that we were full at that point (ok, I admit that the hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookie from City Bakery did not help...). So, no dessert. That was fine considering the fantastic dinner we had at Carmine's. I should mention the very good service and the noise level that requires you to scream to be heard. But hey, this is the price to pay and it is worth it. 

Enjoy (I did)!

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Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York


Image of Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

For Jodi's Birthday, we went to Sugar and Plumm's location on the Upper West Side, the reason being that the last time we passed by that place, Jodi immediately noticed their coconut cake!!! So, it was Her day! 

The place is fun because it mainly caters to families and it definitely is not where one should go for a romantic dinner! If you really want to go there, but would like to avoid family crowds, it is better that you go after 2pm if not 3pm. 

When you enter Sugar and Plum, you will notice three areas:

The candy area on the right that is amazing! 
Image of candies and chocolates at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

Not because if the regular candies by the pound they sell, that are pretty standard. 
Image of candies at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

But because of the ones made of chocolate, some if them being spectacular, like this red shoe (Jodi loved it!):
Image of red chocolate shoe at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

or a bottle of champagne:
Image of Chocolate champagne bottle at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York


In the center, various items:
Macarons
Image of Macaroons at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

Croissants, pains au chocolat or cookies
Image of Cookies at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

Pastries, cakes and cupcakes:
Image of Cakes, pastries and cupcakes at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

or ice cream and sorbet:
Image of ice cream and sorbet at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York


Last, on the left, the dining room with its colorful mosaic on the wall, accentuating how fun this place is. 
Image of colorful mosaic at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

We started our lunch with the following. For Jodi, the ham and cheese crepe. 
Image of Ham and cheese crepe at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

The darker color of the crepe was a clear indication that it was made with buckwheat. There was a nice amount if cheese, however, for $12, I would have expected a salad on the side. Besides being pricey, it was very good and similar to a crepe I would have eaten in Paris. 

So, as there was no salad, Jodi ordered one!
Image of Mixed green salad at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

Let's face it: it was just a salad. Nothing to dream about. 

I decided to order the chicken and waffles. I love this Southern concept and it is the perfect example of how sweet and savory can be successfully combined together!
Image of Chicken and waffles at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

I immediately saw that the chicken was not fried, but probably baked. I did not like it: fry with a weird taste and with the skin missing some crispness. For sure healthier, but who cares!
The waffle however was delicious! Dense but not too much, with a fantastic taste enhanced by vanilla. 

To go with the chicken and waffles, I went for a vanilla milkshake:
Image of vanilla milkshake at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

It was very good: tasty, it had the perfect consistency which is that I did not have to struggle to get it through the straw, even if that straw was a bigger one.

Then was time for the long awaited dessert!!! The coconut cake:
Image of coconut cake at Sugar and Plumm in NYC, New York

It was quite appetizing and we liked it although it does not measure up with the one at Balthazar or the coconut cream pie at Billy's. 

I think that if you like waffles or have kids, Sugar and Plum is the place for you. For instance, we witnessed the patience of the staff and their kindness toward children (also the adults!). Otherwise, I thought that some items were overpriced. 

Enjoy (...)!

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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!