Carmine's is another "Cheesecake Factory" style diner. It's Washington's local legendary Italian restaurant with American roots. Huge portions are served here... Every plate could feed four persons. So make sure to choose wisely to get the chance to try more than one dish.
You enter the place and smell nothing but garlic. There's a bar and jazz music with a menu that's printed in red and black like TGIF's menu. What's Italian about all of this?!
It seems waiting for ten minutes before being seated is part of the ritual, although half the tables were empty.
A headache quickly ensued from the smell of garlic. I made sure to order pasta without garlic... but the waitress replied, "sorry we are an Italian restaurant."
So she went to the kitchen and came back with "the" answer! "I can only do four cheese pasta without garlic because all the rest contain garlic." Weird, especially these days, when there's a big part of the world that is allergic or intolerant to garlic!
I ended up having the spaghetti 4 cheese.
I didn't like the place's style. It is too American and too much of a diner with no real Italian feel - as they claim.
Sports broadcast on big screens... there are menus on all the walls for quick orders, and you will find high tables around the bar where you can order smaller portions. Again... the strong smell of garlic was disturbing to my senses!
I felt like I was actually sitting inside the kitchen for an hour.
Look at the size of those plates! A salad passed by my table and looked like a salad platter for half a dozen people. The fried appetizers on the table next to mine are so big, they looked like a fruit bowl at a hotel's reception. The Caesar salad is humongous and comes with huge serving spoons! Shockingly big portions.
The spaghetti four cheese, probably a full pack, was cooked using the biggest spaghetti out there. A mix of four cheeses, elastic and melting cheese the real American way. The spaghetti mix is flavorful and despite being a bit overcooked, they were good enough but surely not Italian quality. The mix is creamy and heavy and lacked lightness and finesse.
Italian food the fast food American way can be found at Carmine's. Beware of the garlic in everything.