West 44th (Manhattan, NYC)Cuisine:
ItalianNick's Rating (3.5 out of 5):
and a half Review:
This is the second of my reviews of restaurants under consideration for the 2010 Holiday pre-cruise group. My first review can be read here: https://cruisefreekforums.forumotion.com/royal-caribbean-f12/tony-di-napoli-s-nick-s-review-for-christmas-2010-t1951.htm
I will once again preface my review by telling you that being of Italian-American decent, going out for
Italian food always comes with very high standards to match. Nothing is
ever going to compare to my Mom or Grandmother's homemade food.
New York is always busy but, the holidays brings that to new heights and, Carmine's is located in a section of the city I try to avoid at all costs - Times Square. Now, I don't mean to frighten anyone with that statement, Times Square is safe (especially since the Disneyfication of the area) but, it is over run with tourists, and, as a local, it is beyond annoying to have people not knowing where they are going, making dead stops for no reason whatsoever and gawking at everything in sight. In a word: aggravation!
We arrived at Carmine's at 7:30pm and with reservations in place, we were seated immediately. We were greeted by our waiter and, I think my wife thought my head was going to pop of my shoulders when we were asked "And were are you folks from", our waiter, who I will now refer to as Huckleberry, looked afraid when I replied "Staten Island and you" with his answer being "Iowa". I didn't mean to scare him but, after going through a sea of tourists that was the last thing I wanted to be asked. As we waited for friends to join us, Huckleberry took our order for wine - the wine list, like Tony Di Napoli's is good but, certainly not impressive.
The first positives of the evening, we didn't have to scream at each other like we did at Tony Di Napoli's, it is a much saner volume and pace. Not long after our friends joined us and, Huckleberry had brought the wine. Finally, I was starting to unwind from the stress of the area.
Carmine's, like Tony Di Napoli's, menu is huge and also similar is the fact they serve everything family style - meaning one order easily feeds 2 to 3 people. Huckleberry returned to tell us the specials of the day and, it just got funnier and funnier when I had to correct the pronunciation of half the items he was describing. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a huge tease and, I wasn't going to let this go and decided to have some fun with it. We were surrounded by tourists and, I figured they might like the floor show
So, for the rest of the evening, I put on the heaviest New York accent I can muster up. And, yes, my shin and ankle are now black and blue from my wife kicking me under the table so much last night
So with that we ordered Garlic Bread, Eggplant Parmigiana, and Zuppa Mussels (mussels served with garlic, herbs, olive oil, clam juice, white wine and tomatoes) as appetizers. The garlic bread was a huge disappointment, it tasted like something you'd get in a grocery store. However both the Eggplant Parmigiana and Zuppa Mussels were very good!
You better like garlic when you dine at Carmines!
For our main courses we ordered: Chicken Saltimbocca (which is chicken scallopini covered with sage butter and prosciutto (that's Italian ham) that was served on a bed of sauteed spinach with brown sauce, white wine and melted fresh mozzarella), Lasagna, and Broiled Porterhouse Pizzaiola (which is a Porterhouse steak served with peppers, onions and spicy marinara sauce). Huckleberry came back to inform us that the kitchen was a bit backed up and, a round of drinks was sent over by the manager for the inconvenience of having to wait. (He must have overheard us remarking that they must had to go out to buy the chicken for the Chicken Saltimbocca). After a 45 minute wait, finally our main course arrived. Worth the wait? YES! The only slight let down was the lasagna, it was only a step or two above a Stouffers frozen dinner - I'm sure to most it would be very good but, to me it was just ok. Huckleberry came by no less than 6 times to check to make sure everything was satisfactory.
Bellies full, I pledged to keep going onward to dessert, after all I was here on a mission and I couldn't give a proper review to my fellow Cruise Freeks without ordering dessert. And, so we did - Carmine's is famous for one dessert in particular... The Titanic. And that's what we ordered - the Titanic is a chocolate torte with 5 jumbo scoops of ice cream, fresh whipped cream, fruit, cookies ,chopped hazel nuts and chocolate sauce. Was it worth the $23 charge
YOU BET! I'd go back just to order this dessert again!
At the end of the evening, I can honestly say I liked Carmine's better than Tony Di Napoli and it is absolutely perfect for a group party. Overall everything was just slightly better and, if we're down to just two choices between the two restaurants it is my recommendation to go with Carmines. However, if Tina wants me to review other restaurants for the group, I'm certainly not going to argue. Oh and don't worry, I left Huckleberry a solid 25% tip and I'm sure I'll stick in his memory for a while