Sun-Thu, 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat, 11:30am-midnight
1, 2, 3 at 96th St.
American Express, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
66th St. to 107th St., Central Park West to Riverside Dr.
From its inception in 1990, Carmine’s on the Upper West Side has been a runaway success, thanks to its crowd-pleasing Southern Italian cooking, a festive atmosphere, and prodigious portions possessing a free-spirited use of garlic. The look and feel is heavy on recreated nostalgia: Framed black and white photos of Italian-Americans from the twenties through the forties adorn the beige walls; dark wood paneling and antique-style hanging brass chandeliers add charisma to the cavernous interior. Most tables can accommodate parties of a dozen or so. It makes sense, as sharing plates is a must; this is not a place to dine alone. The crowd, a mix of locals, office workers, and bridge-and-tunnel celebrants, is drawn by the zesty old-fashioned red-sauce fare: a multi-layered brick of eggplant parmigiana; egg-battered vegetables enlivened with mozzarella and Romano cheeses and a tangy marinara sauce; and spaghetti and meatballs whose tender orbs of ground beef and veal are the size of baseballs. Nothing is subtle or innovative, but that’s precisely the point.Recommended Dishes
Eggplant parmigiana, $21; pasta meatballs, $26; veal saltimbocca, $31