Following an impromptu visit to the Cummer Museum of Art we searched for a place to eat lunch. I threw out various suggestions that were each met with a hearty “no” from either the passenger seat, occupied by my wife, or from the back seat where Mason and Miss Julia sat.
Exasperated and hungry I suggested the one thing we all like to eat, pizza. “How about we try Carmine’s Pie House? They have a Chicago style pizza and…” Before I could finish the sentence Becky gave her full support while Mason and Miss Julia squealed with approval.
Carmine’s is located at 2766 Forbes Street in a dark garnet building. Wrought iron tables and chairs lined the front of the restaurant. Dark clouds hung overhead, and with the impending threat of a down pout we made our way inside. We were greeted by a hostess who sat us in a large booth. Menus were laid out and we looked over the drink menu.
When our waitress arrived Becky ordered a glass of white wine while I opted for a pint of John Boat Ale made up by one of the local breweries, Intuition Ale Works. She returned with our drinks, and we ordered the bruschetta, a deep dish pepperoni pizza, and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs for Miss Julia. The waitress stated one meatball would be enough, and departed with a smile.
Carmine’s is decorated eclectically with various items suspended from the ceiling and walls including Christmas lights, stuffed dinosaurs, and a creepy looking clown that freaked Mason out. Neon beer signs were brightly lit and a dessert case adjacent to the restaurant was packed with delicious looking desserts. Carmine’s has authentic neighborhood feel that was very welcoming.
The bruschetta arrived in a large white bowl. Chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, and basil were seasoned and served with triangles of toasted pita bread. The vegetables were fresh, had a nice texture, and lightly dressed. It was a light appetizer which we all enjoyed.
Our pizza arrived after the appetizer was cleared away. A three inch thick golden brown crust encased gooey cheese, layers or pepperoni, and rich tomato sauce. Parmesan cheese and oregano were sprinkled lightly on top. We divided one of the slices in two and set to work. It was delicious and as someone in the past who has derided Chicago style pizza, I enjoyed eating every last one of my negative words.
Miss Julia adored her spaghetti and the meat ball. The latter was the size of a softball and was served covered in melted cheese surrounded by tomato sauce. As an Italian-American kid I am picky about meatballs and sauce, but Carmine’s were fantastic. She could not make more than a small dent in the meatball, and I happily helped to clean the plate.
Our meal was fantastic. The only negative was service, which was a bit spotty and inattentive at times, especially when it came to keeping a cold drinks on our table. Carmine’s is open Monday through Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 12:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The restaurant can be found at carminespiehouse.com, Facebook, and contacted by telephone at (904) 387-1400.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: