It’s simple: dinner is dinner.
Unless, of course, it’s made from scratch and served by someone who cares about the fact.
Welcome to Carmine’s. The tiny slice of authentic Italian is owned and operated by Carmine, himself, and his wife, Florida. From the warm greeting you’re sure to be met with, to the vigilant service you’re sure to receive, to the insanely good (did we mention from-scratch?) dishes you’ll be served, this little spot in Cottonwood Heights is doing her mother country proud. The dining experience here is, to be frank, exquisitely Italian.
In the front of the house, Florida reigns supreme. She flies from table to table with the controlled vibrancy of a hummingbird, enthusiastically introducing herself and each course. The way she engages with and embraces everyone that steps through the door, it’s impossible to tell first-time guests from those she’s known for a decade. When you walk into Carmine’s, Florida welcomes you as if into her own home for dinner. Because, well, she is.
Carmine, however, spends most of his time behind the scenes, running the kitchen, but you can always catch a glimpse of him creating his masterpieces over the bar. Born and raised in Salerno, Italy, Carmine learned the basics of Italian cooking by observing family members and picking up their tricks, eventually became a pizzaioli (or trained pizza chef) before moving on to Utah. It took him seven years to learn English and become familiar enough with the new ingredients available to him stateside, but once he met Florida, in an Italian restaurant in Orem, all the pieces fell into place. The two officially opened Carmine’s last summer, just after their daughter Alessia’s first birthday.
Rest assured that every dish we sampled at the eatery was full of flavor and cooked to perfection, but a few of our favorites included the burrata with prosciutto and melon, the salmon ravioli in lobster sauce, and the carbonara pasta. Better still, the portions were large enough to accommodate the family-style sharing that we quickly realized was absolutely vital.
And what can we attribute to the deliciousness of these dishes? “It all starts with the ingredients,” says Carmine. “We make everything from scratch. Our sauces, bread, pasta, even the cheese. That is the Italian way. Good ingredients make good food.” But the way Florida tells it, it takes slightly more than that. “Cooking is like art,” she says. “You have it or you don’t. And Carmine has it inside his heart.”
Hear, hear, say we.
And the proof is in the prosciutto.