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Carmine's

I'm curious to see what you CH'ers think of Carmine's. Personally, I thought it was very good. It was packed on a Saturday afternoon so we sat at the bar. I had a bit of "sticker shock" but the bartender told us the portions were large. The portions were actually huge ! The food, an order of fried calamari and a hot antipasto were well prepared, tasty, and served up quick and hot. Granted, there is better food in the city but I had no complaints at all. The value, considering the size and quality was excellent. How are they for dinner ? I think they have a couple locations, we were in the Theater District.

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  1. The reason the portions were huge is that Carmine's is a family style restaurant. Even so, the price is still high. Their food is good but you're right about there being better Italian in Manhattan. The place is a little too loud for me but they are great to get you in and out in time for a show. I took out of town friends to the theatre district location. I made the reservations for 7:30 when the theatre crowd would be leaving and it was much more enjoyable that way. Still...if you want family style italian and you're willing to travel head to Chianti's way out in Brooklyn. Half the price and twice the quality.

    1. Do a search and you'll see what chowhounders think. Tourist slop. Most would rather go hungry.

      8 Replies
      1. re: chow_gal

        I gotta tell you, if that was slop, call me Porky and point me to the pen ! Was it the finest overtouched, leave me starvin', pretentious, only good because it is rare and expensive, cuisine ? No. Personally, I would love to be able to navigate my way around the boroughs (especially Brooklyn) for some "real" food. Maybe some day. For now, I'll fall into the tourist category (from Vermont) and try to spend as little time driving in the city as possible !

        1. re: TonyO

          I'm glad you enjoyed it. Most tourists do; it certainly is crowded with them. Carmine's (and Ollie's, Oliver Garden, Sbarro, Red Lobster) enjoy a robust business. Nothing to fault in that.

          1. re: chow_gal

            I wouldn't put Carmine's in the same group as Olive Garden, Sbarro, and Red Lobster would you ? I mean that place has some character, history, and individuality. Granted, I may be considered a "tourist" when I'm in NYC, but I certainly understood the humor when The Office's Michael Scott got a "slice NY of za" at Sbarro. At least I made an effort to go to John's ! (OK, here come the replies how John's isn't as good as Ray's blah blah blah....). NYC is a great place even with Sbarro, Bubba Gump, and Planet Hollywood !

            1. re: TonyO

              I LOVE John's Pizzeria as well! Maybe I'm a tourist hiding in the guise of long-time resident of NY. Next time you're in town, you gotta head to Lombardi's, as well as John's. Spring St and Mott.

            2. re: chow_gal

              Ikes, Carmines is like Olive Garden Sbarro and RL, please do not do this. Carmines is what it is. A lot of food on a platter for the family to mang-ah. Is it haute, nope, is it good, yup, is the place fun, yup, is it worth going to with a crowd, yup. Will the garlic ooze out of your pores for days, yup.

              It's a fun place with good red gravy dishes. Where else can you feed a family of six with one order of chicken parm?

              1. re: jfood

                jfood, thanks for the chuckle regarding your comments on the garlic and the chicken parm! Where else indeed! Good Ceasar salad too.

              2. re: chow_gal

                There is no way Carmine's (or even Ollie's) belongs on the same list as those megachains. That's just mindless snobbery.

                1. re: scooter

                  Agree. Ollie's is reasonable and decent, and a few things there - particularly pan-fried noodles w/roast pork and some of the large soups - are perfectly good.

                  In fact, a new Ollie's (called "Ollie's Sichuan"or words to that effect) just opened on 42nd and 9th, on a site previously occupied by Sukothai and Bistro du Vent. We ate there after a movie at the Empire (great place to see movies, BTW, even in their smaller screening rooms) and sampled some of the new dishes from an interesting Sichuan selection. Their Dan-Dan noodles won't put Grand Sichuan or Wu Liang Ye out of business, but they were good, as were other small dishes. A larger dish of beef with diced chilis and a strong cumin flavor was unusual and totally satisfying. The venue is also smaller and far less frenetic than the 44th St. branch; given the location off the main drag, it will hopefully stay that way.

                  As for "touristy", this is NYC. Babbo gets more than its share of tourists as does Le Bernardin, etc. With 44 MILLION tourists per year, there's plenty to go around, and the fact that tourists go someplace is hardly a sign of quality one way or the other. National chains, of course, like Olive Garden, are a whole other story. But Carmine's originated on 91st and Bway, and Ollie's started up on 116th & Bway. They're homegrown - like 'em or leave 'em - and should not be lumped in with the nat. chains.

          2. Rather go Hungry? I reather eat. haha, I enjoyed my meal at Carmines.

            1. I used to love to go to the Carmine's on Broadway and 90-something St. It was a great time for a big crowd of friends for birthday parties when we were all recent college grads. Sure, there is better Italian food, but the atmosphere was always convivial and if you're sharing 3 or 4 big dishes among a whole table (8 or so people) it's actually economical...and I think it represents quite well Italian-American "cuisine", that strange hybrid of not quite Italian food. The fried calamari is some of the best I've ever had, that light, garlicky batter is wonderful. I went home and taught myself how to make spaghetti with garlic and oil from eating it here when I was 18 or so.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ballulah

                Agreed! Never had anything bad here. Cesear salad, calamari, linguine and clam sauce, rigatoni with red sauce and the chocolate cake. Come on people..........this is NOT at all like Red Lobster or the Olive Garden (not that I have ever been to either). Please. But always go to UWS location which is much less touristy. Probably go here about once a year and always have a good time and a good meal.

              2. Us "tourists" need to keep navigation in mind when visiting the city. Now granted, I could have spent $100 for a cab to get to Brooklyn, but I didn't. And yes, I'm sure there are better places than Carmine's and Osterial Al Doge (the other place we went to when in NYC) but being able to walk on the way to a show is a big plus. However, we did take the subway from the UWS to Dinosaur BBQ in the name of chow. I wouldn't eat at Red Lobster at home, I certainly wouldn't do it when in NYC.

                2 Replies
                1. re: TonyO

                  I am sincerely glad you enjoyed it. No need to keep defending your decision. Sometimes convenience wins out over taking the subway.

                  1. re: chow_gal

                    Thanks. It's like when people visit Vermont and we think nothing of driving 20 miles + to a restaurant (which takes us 20 minutes). I would really like to spend a few evenings in Brooklyn at some point but time is always so limited !

                2. Have eaten here with friends from out of town as it is their favorite. When i get to the tira misu i feel i am eating from a trough. Lots of better itialian in the city ....as a matter of fact there is a Carmines sea food (no relation ) near the seaport always a goo meal there

                  1. Tony, next time your in the city check out Tony Dinapolis; it is the same family style as Carmines but IMO much better. One location is right around the corner from Carmines in the theater district and the other location is at 84th and 2nd.

                    There's also lots of good food within walking distance of midtown that's a bit more "authentic" than the center of Times Square. Even if you just search on menu pages for places in the 50s west of 7th avenue, it will give you some great ideas of some smaller places with great food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wingman

                      Thanks Wingman. If you ever need Chow advice pertaining to Upstate NY (Albany and above) or Vermont, let me know !