In Italian-American family celebrations, there’s a concept known as abondanza. The direct translation, as you may have guessed, is “abundance.” But the more realistic translation as embodied by my mother’s approach to cooking is “make sure you’ve prepared enough of each dish so that if EVERY guest were to eat ONLY that dish, there would still be enough for everyone to be satisfied.” It is in this spirit that Carmine’s arrives in Penn Quarter.
Carmine’s has become something of a New York institution over the past twenty years, a family-style restaurant that manages to balance a more refined atmosphere with a traditional “red sauce” menu. Portions are huge, with each entree easily serving four, five or even six people. Assuming guests play it smart and limit themselves to an entree or two for every four diners, it’s entirely possible to leave without dropping a small fortune as most entrees are priced between $20 and $30.
As of last night, Carmine’s is open for business – they’ll be offering lunch service as well starting today. And I was especially impressed to see that they’ve wasted no time jumping into the Washington restaurant scene: Carmine’s is participating in Restaurant Week (August 16-22) for both lunch and dinner. No word yet on what they’ll be offering, but it’s commendable that they’re participating so soon after opening.
We had a chance to take a look around the restaurant before last night’s dinner service, and we made sure to grab some pictures for you. After the jump, take a look at Carmine’s studiously mismatched chandeliers, their ubiquitous menu boards (in lieu of individual menus) and a bar and lounge that are wired to accommodate even the busiest guests.