Carmine’s is an Italian chain of restaurants that has a couple of locations in New York City and other States. Their menu is massive and has tons of pasta options as well as meat entrées, appetizers, and salads. The food here is served family style, so everything comes in a massive portion and it meant for sharing.
I visited the location in the Upper West Side of Manhattan with my family for dinner while on vacation. Carmine’s is a large restaurant that has hundreds of seats. Despite this, the restaurant is still packed full of people and it has a loud, buzzing atmosphere.
The calamari here was pretty delicious. The squid had a perfect texture and it wasn’t overly chewy or “fishy” tasting. The batter was light and super crispy and not greasy at all.
The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was the marinara dipping sauce. It was a bit bland and I feel like it could have used some more herbs and spices. I just feel like marinara sauce cheapens a dish.
The veal parmesan comes with two big slabs of veal smothered in mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The veal was tender and pounded very thin. This dish was good, but anything covered in that much cheese is going to taste good.
On Sunday’s they have a special four pasta platter that comes with a daily selection of four different pastas. The one that we had came with vegetarian lasagna, gnocchi a la vodka, manicotti, and fusilli in a bolognese.
I normally don’t like lasagna, but I actually didn’t mind this version, but my vegetable hating family wasn’t into it. There were big chunks of vegetables mixed throughout and lots of cheese on top.
I thought the bolognese sauce was disgusting and very dry. I am a biased since I generally don’t like meat sauces and this did nothing to change my opinion on them.
The gnocchi a la vodka was pretty good, but not exceptional. The gnocchi were nice and chewy and the vodka sauce was rich and creamy, but pretty one dimensional in flavour. This pasta was pretty heavy and you could probably only eat a small portion of it before it becomes too much.
The manicotti was probably my favourite of all the pastas. The creamy cheesy filling of ricotta was delicious.
We definitely over ordered and we totally didn’t need the penne a la vodka. We all thought this pasta was okay, but nothing special. I preferred the gnocchi in the same sauce and I wouldn’t go with the penne again.
Our experience at Carmines was alright, but it was nothing too special. The food isn’t bad, but it is too pricy for what you receive. I wouldn’t come back just because there are so many other restaurants in New York.
No, there are better restaurants in New York.