When my husband and I attended a special tasting at Carmine's in July of 2013, we were overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of their food. I reviewed the opening for Splash Magazines in a story called Carmine's Italian Restaurant Review - Soulful Southern Italian Food family-style at The Forum Shops at Caesar's Las Vegas.
If you are a New Yorker or visitor to the Big Apple, you may be familiar with the original Carmine's on the Upper West Side (Broadway & 91st St.) or the theater district location. There are now six locations including the Las Vegas Forum shops.
As Carmine's just celebrated the first anniversary of its Las Vegas location in July, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the eatery which is based on the concept of an Italian grandmother preparing southern Italian food and serving it family style to an extended family. Actually, I thought it would be a delicious idea.
We couldn't do it alone as the portions are geared to at least four people and really could serve six. Las Vegas photographer Ira Kuzma and his wife Marie were delighted to come along with us to check out Carmine's. We were all thoroughly pleased with Carmine's food and service.
My husband and Marie ordered adult beverages. He said that any restaurant that had a bar as handsome as Carmine’s was sure to prepare excellent cocktails and so he and Marie ordered their Sardinian Lemondrop Martini. It is made from Ciroc Vodka, lemon juice, a touch of black raspberry liqueur and Argiolas Amarons. His glass was drained in rapid fashion.
Carmine’s promotes itself as a family style restaurant that serves huge portions for four or more people. We therefore only ordered one appetizer, one side dish, one main course, and one dessert for the table. It was enough food for us.
We started the meal off with fried calamari - one of my favorites. Ira had indicated that he wasn't a big calamari fan but agreed to it when it was our waiter's number one suggestion. It was lightly breaded and tasty. Marinara sauce and thick lemons accompanied the huge portion. Guess what - Ira ate his share and agreed with us that it was some of the best calamari ever.
The folks at the table next to ours ordered Caesar Salad which they said was crisp and delicious. They saw me taking photos of our calamari so I explained my mission and they were more than happy to allow me to photograph their meal as well.
We opted to order a side dish of Eggplant Parmesan as that is a signature dish at Carmine’s. It is served in the form of a loaf - nine inches high. The lightly battered and fried eggplant is blended with a combination of Parmesan and Romano cheeses. This is some of the best eggplant parmesan I have ever tasted.
We agreed on Veal Scaloppini for the main dish. I had actually confirmed that our friends were meat eaters who might enjoy some good veal. It was tender and soaked in a lemon and butter sauce. We were able to cut the veal with a fork.
Our neighbors ordered traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Their waiter explained that they had a choice of five different pastas combined with 16 possible sauce preparations. They were pleased with the meatballs which they said were not only big, but quite favorable. They looked delicious.
I recalled seeing the Titanic Sundae when I was last at Carmine’s but did not have a chance to enjoy it. Well, that didn’t happen again. The sundae does indeed look like a ship including three smokestacks. It is over six inches tall and contains layers of whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate cake, and fruit.
Carmine’s is a huge restaurant, encompassing over 28,000 square feet While we were there a group of at least six dozen high school students came in and were escorted upstairs for a group dinner.
The food at Carmine’s was as delicious as I remembered. They are ideally set up to serve the many patrons of the Forum Shops. Its a good spot for locals because they can take leftovers home.
On that subject, the restaurant is actually set up to accommodate the combination of shoppers and leftovers. They boast that they will hold the leftovers in a refrigerated compartment while the customer shops or visit Caesars Palace Casino. Yes, you can check your leftovers while you shop - if you have any leftovers.