Interested in a pizza parlor with an indie vibe?
Carmines sits in a neighborhood that one of the locals, a waiter at Kickbacks, described as the place where greasers hang out. If that sounds like your scene or you are just starving for some garlic bread, check out Carmines.
It reminds me of Orlando’s Lazy Moon, mixed with Chattanooga’s Lupi’s and then trimmed with the ornaments hung at Orlando’s Independent Bar. Now what does that mean? It means it’s kinda strangely adorned. There are random things like dolls, unique light fixtures and funky brand logos covering the walls. It’s quite a hodge-podge. The serve beer, cheap house wines and zero liquor. The menu is huge and it’s a cozy size that fills up with people even on a summer weeknight.
Choose Your Own Dining Adventure
The range of menu items is thoroughly enjoyable, and the names and descriptions of food are even more fun. Mix some puns with exciting ingredients, and bingo, you’ll be torn between entree choices in no time. There are many Chicago-style options, a smorgasbord of pizza types and wings.
“The calzone was filled to the brim with ricotta cheese (pronounced ri-gottha) and had a thick breaded crust. It was a teeny burnt on the bottom, but perfectly baked other than that. It came with marinara on the side, which I have no complaints about, and equaled two very big meals with one portion.”
The Isabella Rossellini is the pizza I would want to order if I were going that direction. It would mabye remind me of Mellow’s Kosmic Karma. My one gripe about some pizza places is that you have to order an entire pizza and the autocrats of today aren’t made to compromise and agree on splitting pies. Also, the single slices at Carmines are made with thin crust, which isn’t my style, so I went for the calzone and eyes my neighbor’s deep dish pizza as he devoured a single slice and took food home for a month.
The calzone was filled to the brim with ricotta cheese (pronounced ri-gottha) and had a thick breaded crust. It was a teeny burnt on the bottom, but perfectly baked other than that. It came with marinara on the side, which I have no complaints about, and equaled two very big meals with one portion.
Confession: I have Pizza Problems, and It’s Not What You Think
Quick pizza rant: I firmly believe that any pizza without red sauce is a lie. It simply won’t satisfy that oregano-tomato-Italiano style craving. I mean sure, white pizza is yummy and flavorful. Pesto sauce nearly ekes by with all the basil and garlic, but it is certainly NOT what I consider real pizza. Sure, I can have a wild day where I want to try an interesting flatbread (which is what I consider pizza crust dishes with non-red sauce). A bar-b-que,
A bar-b-que, Alfredo or Buffalo creation on baked dough can be quite tantalizing, but alas, it’s not the pepperoni playground I prefer. OK, now back to Carmines.
Fried Pickle Party
The place also serves fried pickles which I think is a super strange appetizer, but was so savory with thin sliced pickles and a delicately fried batter that is was very enjoyable. Plus the sauce was awesome. I spied fried mushrooms on the menu and could bet that that could make even fungus tasty.
My friend’s ordered wings, which sad to say were not buffalo. However, they met three essential wing criteria – thick breading, lots of meat and dunked in sauce. I tried the barbeque wings and my other friend’s spicy sauce and both were yummy. Still gotta try that buffalo sometime.
This place gets points for a solid beer selection, thrilling menu and gigantic portions. If they redecorated I might move in for a permanent food coma.