In Washington, nothing is official until the mayor cuts the ribbon. Or the pasta, as was the case for the “official” opening of Carmine’s on June 5, the classic New York Italian family-style restaurant where everything is a little and a lot outsized.
The 700-seat restaurant with nine private dining rooms and a classic wrap-around bar is bound to make an impact at its new Washington location at 425 Seventh Street, a welcome addition and new sight during hard economic times.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, in the midst of an increasingly tough re-election campaign, found time to make things official for the New York-based Alicart Restaurant Group’s foray into Washington. “This shows we’re moving ahead and in the right forward direction,” the mayor said. “We welcome Carmine’s as a terrific addition to our constantly growing downtown area.
“We’ve been to a lot of ribbon-cuttings lately,” he quipped to Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who’s also up for re-election. “I think I’ve lost track.”
Jeffrey Bank, CEO of Alicart, said the company would consider bring other restaurants like Artie’s Delicatessen and Virgil’s Real Barbecue to D.C. The Washington incarnation makes the fifth Carmine’s, including two in New York’s theater district, one in Atlantic City and one in the Bahamas.
“We’ll look forward to seeing that one,” Fenty said. Bank Developer Doug Jamal, Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos, Wells and others were on hand to help launch things at the restaurant, which combines a classy city design with a family-style atmosphere of both size and intimacy. The top people at the D.C. Carmine’s are General Manager Arlene Weston, Chef Terry Natas and Kyle Carnegie, head of special events and catering.
“Everything’s big at Carmine’s,” Bank said. “It’s a kind of wow factor, oversized. The portions are sized to share among one or more people. Big portions, low check.”
For the occasion, big plates of penne, chicken, and Caesar salad and grand portions of tiramisu were on hand.
The project, which brought over 300 new jobs to the District, is one of the biggest in recent stringent times, flying into the teeth of an otherwise depressed economy.