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Carmine's, A New York Italian Family-Style Pasta Chain in Penn Quarter - Massive Portions at Massive Prices


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*ANC 6C ABL Committee*
Tuesday, Nov. 3rd
5:30pm (early this month due to conflicts) Specialty Hospital, 700 Constitution Ave. NE (entrance on 7th St.)

*Draft Agenda
*1. New license application

CARMINE'S ITALIAN RESTAURANT
425 7th St N.W.
CR (restaurant) license

NATURE OF OPERATION
New Italian family style restaurant with occupancy load of 720 featuring southern Italian cuisine and a summer garden with 18 seats.

HOURS OF OPERATION
Sunday through Saturday 7 am "“ 2 am

HOURS OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE SALES/SERVICE/CONSUMPTION Sunday 10 am "“ 2 am & Monday through Saturday 8 am "“ 2 am

SUMMER GARDEN HOURS OF OPERATION AND
SALES/SERVICE/CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES Sunday through Saturday 11 am "“ 2 am

This place is going to be massive! Carmine's Website

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This place is going to be massive! Carmine's Website

Reading through the website about the origins of Carmine's, I could not help but be moved--and a bit awed--by the touching tale of one man's mission to pay homage to his family's unique heritage and traditions and to honor the authenticity of their history, as the exemplar of the closeness of identity between an entire culture and one man's family. Hats of to you, Artie Cutler! You truly are doing God's work! And in pasta form, no less.

Oh well, there go my plans to open a restaurant, La Tregua, featuring recipes inspired by some of the fantastic, heavenly, unbelievably authentic meals described in the soaring memoirs of the great national patriotic hero of Italy, Primo Levi, first among princes and priests alike indeed.

Still in the works, however, is an authentic Ciorba House called Night, Dawn and Day celebrating the extraordinary heritage of the Romanian culture and my ancestry's unique connection to it.

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Everything at Carmine's is big Family sized portions.

This video from the summer may have already made the rounds here ... but I'm sure it will be new for some ... click

Additionally, I am told they will be featuring nightly entertainment by this man here, whose golden chestnut has been warming my heart ever since reading of Carmine's opening here in DC.

Now that's what I think of when I think about authentic Italian!!!

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Carmine's is the kind of place I thought I would hate. I didn't it..Yes, it was loud and boisterous and crazy. But it was homey and family-y and the food was pretty darn good to boot! I wonder if it will have the same feel if it's not in NY...

I felt the same way in NYC. It had a certain feel to it that made me happy. Plus, the food was very enjoyable.

Metastasizing is a bit of an insensitive overstatement IMHO.

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Opening today, according to www.bizjournals.com.

Carmine's was definitely open last night, with an ABC7 News truck parked out front and WTOP's "Man About Town", Bob Madigan, recording a report in front of the restaurant. Peering through the windows, I thought it looked very supper-clubby with lots of dark wood and red hues. The prices on the menu boards posted on the walls looked on the high side, to me, for basic pasta dishes - although, if they are family-sized, as mentioned in previous posts, then prices seemed pretty reasonable.

Didn't go in, so can't provide details on food/service, etc.

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Carmine's was definitely open last night, with an ABC7 News truck parked out front and WTOP's "Man About Town", Bob Madigan, recording a report in front of the restaurant. Peering through the windows, I thought it looked very supper-clubby with lots of dark wood and red hues. The prices on the menu boards posted on the walls looked on the high side, to me, for basic pasta dishes - although, if they are family-sized, as mentioned in previous posts, then prices seemed pretty reasonable.

Didn't go in, so can't provide details on food/service, etc.

The dishes are family style, so when you average things out, it's not too steep. Especially in the Theater District location in NYC.

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Four of us had dinner here on Saturday night, post-theater, at about 11:30. It was mostly empty, but looks like a huge space. Food is very definitely served family-style. Spaghetti bolognese and rigatoni with sausage were enough to feed four with leftovers. Our server indicated that portion sizes do vary, so ask when ordering, but you can easily satisfy 3-4 normal appetites on one appetizer, one entree and one dessert. That makes the prices quite reasonable, if not downright cheap.

With a limited look at the menu I can't really judge the kitchen - especially at 11:30 - but what we had was decent (if a bit greasy). Do not expect high-end cuisine. Do not expect to be transported to Italy. But if you lived in a northeast urban center with a large Italian population (NY, Philly), you've had this food, and you liked it. Italian-American, not Italian, heavy, comforting and filling, and whether that's good or bad is up to you.

Do not come here on a date - quiet and intimate it's not. Do come with a group or a family, stop by going to or from the Verizon Center, do send tourists who are not foodies. Service was very friendly and accomodating, especially considering the time.

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Not a lot of chatter on Carmine's, and it does seem to get its fair share of the tourist and group crowd, but 6 of us enjoyed our meal there on Saturday night and were pleased with the final bill as well.

The place is absolutely HUGE. We had a drink at the bar while we waited for our table and enjoyed both the red (Mixed Berry, Luxardo Cherry Liqueur, Sweet Italian Vermouth) and white (Cantaloupe, Bianco Vermouth & Citrus) sangria, both $9 and both served in a "23oz individual 'punch bowl,'" which resembled a brandy snifter. The Berry Basil Bubbly (Crushed Basil, Berry Purée and Prosecco - $9) looked pretty, but was served in an easily spillable champagne saucer.

Our service wasn't the best as our waitress took quite a while to attend to our table and didn't check in frequently, but with drinks in hand and mounds of food on the way, we sat back and enjoyed each others' company.

We started with Fried Calamari ($27) and garlic bread ($11.50, but with cheese I think $17.50). Both of these were enormous apps and more than enough for the 6 of us. The calamari was at least 5+ times the serving size at a normal restaurant, but the marinara had a good flavor. The garlic bread was a tray of 10+ large slices oozing with cheese. We all liked the bread a lot. We also were quite amused watching some of the two-tops be served, and had to laugh when the garlic bread was delivered to one of them. I see leftovers!

After a little coaching from our waitress, we settled on two pastas and two meats for our main courses. The pastas tend to be larger servings than the meats I think, but both could feed a small army. We had the Lasagna ($27.50), the Rigatoni with sausage and broccoli in an olive oil and garlic sauce ($26), Veal Marsala ($27.50) and Chicken Scarpariello ($26.50). The veal was the table's favorite, although probably the smallest serving size. The sauce was rich but delicious. We didn't know what the chicken was before talking to the waitress, but it was 12 pieces marinated and served on the bone with a nice rosemary flavor. The lasagna was probably 6 inches tall with multiple layers of cheese and sauce and meat. The rigatoni could have had a higher broccoli and sausage to pasta ratio, but it was nicely al dente and the sausage had some nice spice. Even with 6 of us we ended up with 3 boxes of leftovers.

We were much too full to order dessert, but they looked good (and of course huge) heading to other tables.

In the end with 2 apps, 4 entrees, 1 bottle of wine, 1 beer and 3 mixed drinks, the total, with tip, came to right around $50 per person and we were stuffed and had leftover food. I would never head to Carmine's with just 2 people (maybe not even with 4), but I think it's a legitimate option for a decent and affordable dinner for a group of 6-10. It's not winning any innovation awards, but it's good red sauce Italian that sometimes just hits the spot.

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I stopped by for lunch when this place opened, and was pleasently surprised. The food is not the best in the city, but it's better Italian American than you would expect them to serve. It is a fantastic place to take relatives/friends who are visiting from out of town, especially the less adventurous. The portions are *huge* as mentioned. 1 app, a salad, 2 entrees, and a dessert would easily feed 6 people, IMHO. Maybe 8.

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It's a pretty sweet business model when you think about it. What restaurateur would turn down an offer that everyone sitting down for a meal in your place was also guaranteed to buy lunch from you for the next two days? That's essentially what Carmine's is doing with their portions and their prices, unless you order really smartly as a big group (for two people, it's impossible, unless you literally order one item off the menu, but who wants to do that?).

The food wasn't too bad. I liked the flavor of the lasagna (lots of fresh sage in the tomato sauce). On the other hand, our one year old, who still hasn't gotten half his teeth in, seemed to really appreciate the doneness of the pasta in that dish. Enough said. Both the zuppa di clams and chicken Marsala were tasty if a bit salty. Service was very friendly and everyone was nice to a fussy and messy baby.

We were looking for a kid friendly restaurant in Penn Quarter and Carmine's fit that bill. Would probably go back again if with a group, but would explore alternatives if just with the baby. Ella's Wood Fired Pizza maybe?

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I often find negative reviews to be superior to positive ones. I have given you a series of good luncheon places in downtown/Penn Quarter. Let me tell you a few words about the WORST meal I have had in a long time. It was here. I will never return.

A 12-top, specially phoned in for dining, bringing in our office people. This was not my choice.

I got here a half-hour early, to scout out. A glass of overpriced, too-small Italian red at the bar. An ambience reminisencent of Buca di Beppo or Maggianos. Not too bad, in theory.

Our group arrived. And sat. And sat. And sat. Let's just say that service was a challenge.

Hey! Give me a salad and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Easy order for an Italian joint, yes?

Let's just say it took these guys a full 90 minutes to get out our order. Excuse, excuse, excuse. Yes, it was busy. No, we were not difficult customers.

To their credit they realized their poor service and comped us a dessert apiece. Which took another 45 minutes to get served!

I wish it wasn't an office lunch, if it hadn't of been I'd have had plenty of the cheap boxed red wine they serve, and I wouldn't have noticed. Instead I had to gulp iced tea like every other pathetic DC office worker nowadays, and I was soberly aware of every shortcoming.

Plus, the pasta really was not pleasant. It really was poor, truth be told, but I am not the crotchety type.

Except that I will never, ever, eat at this joint again.

You have been warned.

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I've enjoyed Carmine's twice. Most recently a couple of weeks ago with a group of maybe 12 including out of towners. Portions are enormous....and can't quite remember the number of main dishes and appetizers but with all that food, and everyone full with ample wine....price was about $3-35/person with a large tip. Very good price.

The food is fine. With that big a group we probably had about 6 main dishes. None stood out...but none were bad.

Service was EXCELLENT and fun. Plus got there early and met one couple for drinks at the bar. Reasonable prices and very friendly service.

Before that I was there eating dinner in the bar area.....four of us. Got way too much food. Had an excellent pasta/sausage/red sauce dish. Definitely the best thing I've had there.

This place is excellent for groups. Can't imagine how to order for a table for two.

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Well, I didn't hate it. We were seated last night shortly before the last of the Caps fans were leaving for the third-game marathon at the Verizon Center, which lowered the din considerably. Service was reasonably prompt and friendly. Carmine's salad is huge, could easily feed a half-dozen people, and a bit overdressed, though chockful of some decent ingredients beyond the standard lettuce. I don't remember much about the chicken saltimbocca; it seemed to be the chicken marsala on a bed of spinach with cheese melted on it, but it was surprisingly light and inoffensive. And the country-style rigatoni--another family-reunion-sized dish--was really quite tasty, though I found a bit of gristle in the sausage and the beans were a little hard to get to. Indeed, I was surprised how this huge amount of food wound up not being a dead weight in the gut. The leftovers will make a good weekend meal. And I thought the Carmine's Negroni was really well made.

One of our problems was, we went here with a couple from Florida who said they loved Italian food and wine. But when it came time to order, they just said "Whatever," and we discovered that both seemed to dislike most vegetables, ate very gingerly and drank virtually nothing. As a result, I took satisfaction in the fact that the husband was a dead ringer for Comic Book Guy on "The Simpsons." So my verdict? BEST. MEAL. EVER.

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A brief update: we had the leftovers last night, and I was a bit sickened at just how greasy they were. Served at the restaurant, this quality was not so immediately apparent; scooping them from the pan after warming, the overwhelming oiliness was unavoidable. Since that country-style rigatoni has been one of the recommended dishes (by Sietsema and others), I wonder if this was just a fluke. But it definitely makes a return trip far less likely.

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A brief update: we had the leftovers last night, and I was a bit sickened at just how greasy they were. Served at the restaurant, this quality was not so immediately apparent; scooping them from the pan after warming, the overwhelming oiliness was unavoidable. Since that country-style rigatoni has been one of the recommended dishes (by Sietsema and others), I wonder if this was just a fluke. But it definitely makes a return trip far less likely.

Man I could write an entire book in response to this. As the undisputed King of Leftovers, I have been literally nauseated by the sight of so many containers of half-eaten entrees that I couldn't even begin to guess the number. Excessive use of bad oils and fats can be masked (and even taste great) when they're served "piping hot," but ooh that second day can be seriously nasty. The thought of congealed brown "gook" is about making me retch right now.

With some obvious fragile exceptions, truly great food remains great when it chills to room temperature, and continues to be great even after a night in the fridge.

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I have only visited this place once, on the Christmas after it opened here. I am willing to return, but someone will need to give me a good reason first. The zucchini -- in a greasy mound of sticks -- was the most unpleasant version of this usually reliable vegetable i have ever encountered. We had something else, I don't remember what it was, that pretty much killed off the usually enormous appetites at our table, which was maybe half a shame because the bucket of pasta that came to us last didn't seem half-bad but went mostly uneaten. We just weren't up for it, so decided to take it home. We were unable to take it home, however, because the clean-up crew mistakenly threw it in the trash. After going back to the kitchen, and I guess attempting unsuccessfullly to recover it from the trash, our waiter apologized profusely, but with the smarmy attitude that Tom Sietsema seemed to be complaining about at Citronelle a couple of years ago. End of story: we will never know what the pasta might have coagulated into.

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For some reason we had our office holiday luncheon at Carmine's.  The short version - massive platters of truly mediocre food.  Although I would like a tour of their kitchen to see how they pull it all together.

There was some decent-to-good to be had:  The fried calamri (absolutely massive portion, could feed 8 people no problem) was very solidly done.  The clams on the half shell were mostly decent, especially the smaller sized ones.  The garlic bread with cheese was totally excessive in a holy shit that's cheesy and garlicky (in a good way).  The mixed seafood in the mixed seafood pasta was also pretty good, there was at least one whole lobster chopped up, plus scallops, mussels, and shrimp (although the pasta sucked).

The rest of the offerings were just not very good. The veal piccata come with a bland gloppy brown mushroom sauce; the lasagne looked good, the serving size was bigger than my head, but proved to also be bland, the penne in vodka sauce with sausage was probably the best of the pasta offerings.  The two salads were just not even worth ordering.

Finally, we ended with the Titanic.  Why we ordered this I have no idea.  It's basically a huge fudge brownie thing topped with a banana split sundae.

In the end, the whole experience was kinda nauseating.  Anyone for a wafer thin mint?

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I’ll be heading to Carmine’s with a group of 4 in the next two weeks.  My favorite part of the restaurant is the front bar high tops.  If you hit it at HH the food and drinks are a meal at a great price.  But I haven't been there in over 2 years

Yes it is old school Italian red sauce but I love  that food and I’ll be going with people who grew up on that cuisine.  No it’s not the best anywhere.  The front high tops are fun.  I happened to watch the clinching game of a WS with San Fran winning some years ago while with friends from that area including a native and die hard Giants fan.

They allowed us to get pretty rowdy and the area is so large we just blended in as our obnoxiousness got lost in the overall size of the place.  Liked the front bar area ever since

It’s comfort food in a comfortable environment

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