Carmelina's doesn't seem to get a lot of press, but we were looking for a new North End spot to add to the rotation, and it's high ratings on Yelp definitely stick out.
I've been twice in the past few months: It was an easy walk-in at 2PM on a chilly Friday back in January, with only 2 or 3 tables occupied in this cozy ~40-seat space; but on a warmer day this past week it was mostly full with the windows wide open onto Hanover St, so a reservation was smart thinking.
Carmelina's serves a quite good "red sauce" Italian, like your Nonna cooks, but kicked up a notch or two. Over our two visits, we enjoyed:
CALAMARI SALAD: Olives, garlic, lemon, giardiniera ($12)
~Doesn't look like anything particularly special, but it was actually quite tasty, with super-tender calamari rings and tentacles
GARLIC SHRIMP IN THE PAN: Sautéed with razor sliced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon ($15)
~Exactly as delicious as it sounds...just order it!
MIMMO'S BAKED MEATBALLS: Tomato sauce, parmigiano ($9)
~4 medium-big, very cheesey meatballs, and although I generally prefer a denser meatball, these were definitely tasty
EXPLODING LITTLE NECK CLAMS: Popped open with garlic, cherry tomatoes, touch of hot chile ($16)
~A lovely, Instagrammable plate of little necks, the spicy sauce is something you will want to mop up with bread, my favorite dish
WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO: Finished with mascarpone, truffle oil, parmigiano ($14)
~Creamy and a great mushroom flavor, but over-cooked rice. Would have been fantastic if more al dente.
ROASTED WILD MUSHROOMS: With shiitake, cremini, portobello & oyster mushrooms, sage, cherry tomatoes, truffle oil, crumbled goat cheese, parmigiana polenta ($15)
~Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms on silky, cheesey polenta
An affordable, not terribly interesting, wine list, with many $30 bottles. No dessert menu or coffee, but right across the street is Mike's Pastry. QED
Service was great, our waiter and waitress (she was actually from Italy!) being very personable, and the owner's niece stopping by several times to check on us during our first visit.