Thursday, August 19, 2010

Restaurant Review: Carmine's DC

I first noticed Carmine's was coming to DC, a couple of months back when I was going to see a performance of Step Afrika at the Lansburgh Theater on 7th Street NW.  It's the latest restaurant to open in DC's Penn Quarter section.

I was familiar with the name because I had been to Carmine's several years ago with family while on a trip to New York City.  Truthfully, I can't remember what I thought of the food, all I remember is the walls were covered with photos of famous Italians.

When I found out not only had they just opened but they were participating in Restaurant Week, I jumped at the opportunity.  I invited one of my co-workers who is soon to be leaving to start B-School at Wharton (impressive right?).  We arrived around 1:30 for our lunch reservation and were seated along the wall so we had a great view of the restaurant. 

It's designed to feel like you're in someone's Old Italy-style home from the light wood flooring to the rustic chandeliers.  We were seated and then greeted by not one but three separate waiters and waitresses.  Our main waitress was extremely familiar with the menu, surprisingly so being that the restaurant had only been open for 2 weeks, and told us anything we could have possibly wanted to know about anything featured on the menu.  Throughout lunch, several of them continued to cater to us and made sure we were comfortable and never in need of anything.

While we were discovering the menu, all of a sudden we became fascinated with what the waiter brought out to the gentleman seated next to us.  I hate staring but I couldn't keep my eyes off of the largest piece of bread pudding I'd ever seen in my life.  The way the waiter sat it down, it just looked heavy and everyone around us laughed at the thought of this man trying to tackle this absurdly large dessert.  (See photo to the right and that was after a few bites)

After the laughter died down, I ended up ordering a Meatball Hero and my co-worker a Portabello Mushroom Hero, both minus the bread with caesar salads.  As soon as we put our order in a huge basket of bread came out, there were about 5 different types of bread, two of each.  Since, I ordered my hero without the bread, I figured I could indulge a little.  There was one piece that absolutely melted in my mouth.  It was topped with garlic, marinara sauce, and a little shaved parmesan.  In my Long Island accent, it was simply "To die for".

There was a slight wait as we anticipated our meals but we had plenty of bread to try which kept us satiated.  In the tradition of family-style the food and salads arrived together.  When I say the portions are huge, that would be an understatetment.  They could only be described as gigantic, colossal, or whatever adjectives describes a massive amount of anything. 

By the time I finished my caesar salad, I looked at the meatballs like do I want to even dare.  I barely managed to eat one when the waitress was like, yeah I knew you weren't going to finish that.   My co-worker wasn't all that impressed with her portabello but she's a picky eater so I figured it would be hard to please her. 

Everything I had was seasoned exceptionally well, the service could not have been any better, and I still can't believe all the food they give you for only $9.  We didn't even get to take advantage of Restaurant Week since it was so affordable.  I definitely look forward to going back soon!

Food A+
Ambiance B
Service A+

The Penn Quarter District
425 7th Street NW
Washington DC 20004


  1. Glad to know you had a good experience. I was nervous the capital version wouldn't be as good as gotham's.

  2. This looks so amazing! Thanks for the heads up about this place, I'll definitely have to check it out!

  3. I would highly recommend Carmine's. I've been singing its praises for the last week.