Over the last six years I have driven by Carmela’s many times. At night, while lit up, it looks intriguing and like a place I would someday visit. On this trip my wife and I would do so for our anniversary dinner date.
While visiting Carmela’s website http://www.carmelaspizza.com and reading about its history and chefs bio’s, I turned to the menu page. Items on the menu spiked my interestÂ and gave me more reason to finally visit.
The restaurant itself is split on two sides. One side being the pizza style dining area and the other a more formal area featuring a full service bar. Carmela’s also boasts an extensive wine list.
Ever since eating farm raised fish and shrimp became an issue of making choices for better health I have made it a habit to only eat fish and shrimp caught wild and especially in local US waters. Carmela’s offers a seafood dish that includes shrimp so I asked our server if she knew where the shrimp were from. She said that they were purchased based on pricing and not always from the nearby Gulf waters. That being said I turned away from that dish and chose instead the Chicken Saltimbocca. My wife was drawn to the Pork Osso Bucco and also wanted to try the
Our dishes arrived and at first glance we were wondering if we made the right choices. My wife was concerned that the demi glace sauce was too much like tomato sauce and the risotto was drowned in it. Mine although a healthy portion, left me curious about the sauce too. The dish was served over pasta and swimming in the sauce. It also had an over abundance of melted cheese that totally encased the twin chicken breasts. I prefer Saltimbocca separate from my pasta, minimal sauce and a lot less cheese.
Although the Saltimbocca was not what I was accustomed to it was very good. It took some doing to eat, trying to cut it through all the sauce and pasta but I made short work of one of the breasts and all of the linguine below. It would have been better served alone with more of a sage flavor and less of the overpowering cheese.
The Osso Bucco while very tender and cooked well, the sauce was made with too much tomato that hid the flavor of the meat which we were told was braised over a period of seven hours. The risotto was tasty but also would have benefited from being more separate from the sauce. Both dishes portions were substantial and at least half of which came home with us.
Our server was friendly but seemed rushed to me although my wife didn’t find fault with her. I felt she could have spent more time with us to make us feel more welcome. Perhaps asking if it were our first visit, what we could expect, customer favorites etc..I like a little more one on one with my server especially in better restaurants such as this.
One last thought. After reading about the owner and chefs training I expected to see ingredients such as Gulf ( no farm raised) Shrimp and Angus Beef and not menu choices based on food costs. With all the questions today about what is in the food we eat, its refreshing to see organic or better choice meats/ fish on menus. Everything on a menu should not be based on ingredient costs alone and should definitely NOT be the answer given by your staff.
The Regular Guy rating * * *