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Carmine's Italian Restaurant & Bar in PASADENA

This place should have a sign that reads ' OPEN TILL 10PM, BUT 1/2 ASS SERVICE STARTS PROMPTLY AT 9:20 PM '

Never in my life have I ever felt so unwelcomed at a restaurant.

I had never been here before and drove by it last weekend with a friend. We decided to make a fun date out of it and go the following weekend. So we went to watch a movie and drove there for a late dinner last night. We get there and there are 3 staff workers talking in the first little room where you wait to be seated. We stood there waiting for someone to come by not knowing if we are supposed to seat ourselves or wait to be seated. It was an awkward 1-2 minute wait as we looked over at them talking amongst themselves, obviously knowing we had just entered. We then decided to just go in and sit down. As we started to, one of the 3 came over to us and FINALLY seviced us. The place had families there and dates there with plenty of empty seats as well. When we got there many of them were leaving and the place just looked a little more emptier. At this point we had no clue they closed at 10. We were seated and our waitress came. I don't know if I'm already spoiled, but this waitress was not welcoming or friendly AT ALL. You could see it in her face and actions that she really didn't want to be there and surely didn't want us there either. That's when we started wondering at what time they closed. I asked one of the bus ladies and was told 10 pm. My watch said 9:24. I've never been one to leave 1 star just for the service, but this place was sooooooooooo HORRIBLE that even if the food tasted good it just made me look into all the negativity of the place.

The food was actually good. I ordered the chicken something with a rasberry martini and my friend ordered the chicken florentine with a glass of merlot. His dish tasted much better than mine. My Martini SUCKED ASS. I ordrered a Rasberry Martini and let me tell everyone that I know my Martinis and the crap that was given to me was not one. Just because it was in a Martini glass DOES NOT MAKE IT A MARTINI. It was too strong and I kindly asked the waitress if they can make it less strong for me, maybe water it down a bit. I mean, it was suppsed to have been a rasberry maritini and I didn't even taste the rasberry because the alcohol was so strong. I've had Rasberry Martinis in several different places and even when they have been strong I'm able to taste the rasberry juice, but the shit that was given to me was PURE CRAPPY ALCOHOL. When they brought it back it did taste better. I hesitated at first saying anything about it because I was sure they'd spit in it, but I really didn't want to pay for it and not drink it. We were done eating and our waitress disappeard, I had to ask the bus lady for to go boxes and our check. When our check was brought to us I noticed that others received their check in a little tray and ours was just placed on top of our bag. We decided to only tip her $4 dollars. Everything including our tip cost $50. That's pretty much what we spend at the cheesecake factory, gin sushi, yang chow and many other places. However, the main difference is that we get top quality service and in this trash of a place I was really upset that my friend had to pay 50 for the HORRIBLE SERVICE we got.

I will NEVER go back to this place and it's a shame because Italian is my favorite food.

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  1. You have to take Carmine's for what it is -- a very popular mid-priced family neighborhood place with traditional food.. Sorry your service was bad, they are incredibly crowded on weekends and were probably burned out, not that that's an excuse. And it's an old-fashioned Italian restaurant, not the sort of place I would expect an excellent raspberry martini (not sure I would order that anywhere anyway, but whatever). There's something strangely compelling about their retro food, including the veal piccata, the eggplant parmigiana and the spaghetti al'oglio. The portions are huge, enough for two or three meals. The best way is to go on a weeknight, when the service seems fine, or do take-out (I think they deliver too?). Some people on this board like the pizza too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chowpatty

      I love the pizza...and hate the service....it has been really bad lately...

      1. re: Chowpatty

        They definitely deliver and their delivery people are the best. I have often called the manager to commend them on the sweet and pleasant young men who deliver (there never seem to be women delivery people).
        I would call the manager (or Carmine, the owner's son who is there quite often) and tell them of your experience. I know that the service in-house is not always that great, but I truly enjoy their food (their pizza is my fave - cooked well done) and will keep on going. Pasta Pescatore with pink sauce is the best! Great Happy Hour as well. Also, their lemon drop martini is the best - they use fresh lemon juice.

      2. I had a similar experience at Musashi in Porter Ranch (Northridge). I walked in with two friends, and we waited while the host and host just talked and talked away with other people. After waiting a few minutes without being acknowledged, we were about to seat ourselves, when they rudely said, "No. Let us seat you." That was it for me. We walked out, and I'll never go back.

        1. You were upset because a martini was too strong? Call me a lush, but that doesn't sound like a problem to me.

          6 Replies
          1. re: teach

            I thought the same thing about the martini! In these situations, an ice cube or two will solve the problem. But then the OP's frame of reference is the Cheesecake Factory, so...

            1. re: Chowpatty

              There's nothing wrong with liking the Cheesecake Factory. I didn't notice the martini statement. However, I have had nasty martinis before (not at this particular place).

              The next time I get a bad or strong martini, I'll remember the ice cube suggestion. I've never done that before. I will add that there are so many kinds of martinis available these days, that it's difficult to keep track of what's in them. To give a few examples, there is the lychee martini, the pomegranate martini, the chocolate martini, and so on.

            2. re: teach

              yeah...I'm confused. for someone who "KNOWS MARTINIS" they would know that martinis ARE pure alcohol. Even the flavoring is usually flavored liqueur or vodka. And don't get me started on saying that one "KNOWS MARTINIS" but willingly orders a raspberry one.

              1. re: annalulu

                I used to be a bartender at Lolas in LA. I know a lot about Martinis. I was in the mood for a Rasberry Martini that night and the crap that was given to me, was not a rasberry martini. It was pretty much like a straight up vodka. If I wanted a vodka, I would have ordered a vodka, but nope....I ordered a Rasberry Martini, I paid for one, I expect one. Don't ask for much, I just want what I paid for, give me something fruity nothing more than that.

                1. re: handycrafter77

                  I used to be a bartender too, and we had a mighty long list of martinis. I dislike paying for a crappy drink. Although the restaurant is unpopular here, I had a great lychee martini at Villa Sorriso in Pasadena on Monday. The drink was perfectly balanced and tasted just right to me.

                  1. re: katkoupai

                    Ooooh lychee martinis are so good. They are truly underrated, not many people are willing to try them. Have to check that place out.

            3. Try their location on Live Oak in Arcadia. Not sure why, but the difference in service is night and day.

              3 Replies
              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                I go to the Arcadia location because every time I drive by South Pas Carmines in the evenings ESP weekends, it looks hectic and mobbed. Even when its busy, I've had great service at the Arcadia location, even the bus help and runners are right there to help all the time. I can't compare the food of course, just speak for the service at the other loc.

                1. re: MaryT

                  Finally, someone knows that Carmines is in SOUTH PASADENA, not Pasadena.

                  1. re: carter

                    I know Carmine's is in So. Pas!! And have mentioned it several times here.

              2. I've never had a rasPberry martini, but I have had many rasPberry flavored vodkas. They probably made the martini with rasPberry flavored alcohols instead of the rasPberry juice...

                I think the real problem is the service. I have been to Carmine's in South Pas several times and the service has typically been "below average". It is too bad because the food is decent, but there are just too many other places to go in the LA area for good food with better service.