|Carmine's, Marina Village|
The Juggernaut organised dinner here on a whim, high on endorphins after his ten mile run. We were in the market for some carbs so with this in mind we set off towards Paradise Island. From the little I knew about Carmine's, an Italian trattoria catering mostly to tourists from Atlantis, I was aware that they served up enormous portions of pasta 'family style'.
A hearty welcome awaited us at the front desk and we were then left to our own devices to locate our friends.Walking into the great hall, past its false beams and brick arches I felt we were extras on the set of an Eighties mafia B- movie that went straight to video. A small child could easily go missing in this vast space and not be discovered for days. However, we eventually located our friends waving frantically in the distance and headed past tables full of families on holiday with forkfulls of spaghetti and slightly defeated expressions on their faces.
The friendly waitress was over to us in a flash, clearly trained to the standards of American service. The laminated menu consisted of Pasta, Seafood, Steaks and Chops, all fairly straightforward. The dishes are designed for sharing between four to six people. We chose a Mixed Seafood Pasta ($55) and a Chicken Parmigiana ($28) with a side order of, you guessed it, pasta. You could choose the type of pasta you wanted, which I think should be left up to the chef, and ominously either red or white sauce, whatever that meant. We opted for linguine and white sauce. A basket of bread was brought to the table, of which the sundried tomato encrusted focaccia was the highlight, despite being a bit soggy.
Our food arrived too quickly, within ten minutes we were presented with a vat of pasta drenched in clear brown liquid with an array of slightly dry frozen seafood, mussels, clams, overcooked lobster, large prawns, squid rings mixed through it. Unfortunately I couldn't identify a single ingredient in the pasta sauce but I believe it was meant to contain white wine, garlic, onion, parsley and olive oil. Perhaps it should have been sent of to a laboratory for analysis.
Parmesan was offered to sprinkle on the seafood; a practise of which I vehemently disapprove, with few exceptions. The Chicken Parmigiana was a large slab of flattened chicken breast, covered with tomato puree and suffocating underneath a blanket of cheese. I was mesmerised by it. I hadn't seen this much cheese on a pizza before, let alone on a poor chicken breast. Would we need liposuction after eating all this? Needless to say, we couldn't finish the two dishes between the five of us.
Dessert was out of the question. After the table was cleared, a lone strand of linguine was left behind on the table cloth, with a small oil slick emanating from it. Slumped in our chairs in a pasta induced coma, we quietly sipped our espressos, waiting patiently for our bloated tummies to deflate. We sat there for quite some time.
Carmine's is one of four restaurants; two of which are in New York, the other in a casino in New Jersey. Described as 'NYC's legendary Family Style Italian Restaurant' on the website, it was a far cry from real Italian food, made with thought and understanding. The efficiently churned out meals and high turnover are typical of a chain restaurant. I found the food bland, over processed and frankly, pretty forgettable.