I had lunch today at Carmines II, and heres what I learned.
Carmines was opened in 1970, and was run by Carmine and his wife. It was an upscale restaurant, with captains, waiters in tuxes, a sommelier, red booths, the whole deal.
His children worked in the restaurant until he died in the 1980s (unsure of date). The family continued to run it for a short time, then sold it. The new owner was unable to run it profitably, and it went out of business.
Carmines family owned the property, so the restaurant reverted back to them when the new owner went out of business. It sat empty for quite some time, and then was re-opened by Carmines son about 6 years ago.
Out of respect for Carmine, they renamed it Carmines II. C-II is more relaxed than the old restaurant. There are no longer the red booths, but rather tables (thankfully not on top of each other). Many of the recipes are the same as the original Carmines. There is also a larger bar, meaning less seating; and windows in the front, letting in some natural light for lunch.
I arrived about noon and valet parked. Its $4, which is a rip since there is plenty of street parking right there on Santa Monica Lets see $4 or 2 quarters in the meter Next time its the meter for sure.
We were the second party in the restaurant; but by the time we left, it was about ½ full. The light is low, and the music soft. Its quiet, and I think it would be a good date restaurant. Classy, but not pretentious.
The menu has salads, pizza, pasta, old classics, sandwiches, appetizers and desert. There is Osso Buco, steak, linguini with seafood, and lots of other stuff. Its a pretty deep menu for a small Italian place.
I ordered the special salad: scallops, shrimp and squid lightly sautéed and blended with a very light tomato sauce served over fresh spinach, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans and beets. It was fantastic. The seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly. The shrimp and squid were firm, the scallops were about the size of a quarter and had just the right amount of bite. The tomato sauce tasted fresh, too. Not a thick sauce, but rather a light flavoring for the dish. The warmth of the fish was perfectly balanced by the artichoke hearts and freshly sliced cold cucumber. The spinach was tender, and the stems were removed (a real plus in my book). As I ate, the spinach became warmer under the seafood, and it softened up nicely.
My friend had the proscuitto and provolone sandwich, which came with a large side salad on the same plate. The sandwich had tomato, lettuce (may have been spinach) and some dressing. It looked good.
Carmines II is on big Santa Monica, 1.5 blocks west of Beverly Glen, right near Century City. Its open for lunch Tuesday through Friday, and dinner every night except Sunday.
I'm definitely going back.
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