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.
Upstairs is the dining room.
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.
The focaccia was just ok for me, tasting a bit stale.
Then came our appetizer: tomato and mozzarella.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!