Best Italian restaurant - 2000
Carmine's on Penn
We've got an offer -- and a restaurant -- you can't refuse. After six years and a few management changes, Carmine's on Penn has finally hit its stride. Not only is this one of the best family-style eateries around, it's also the best Italian, any style. The atmosphere is welcoming, the servers efficient, the wine list impressive, and the food incredible. These dishes are all about vibrant flavors, well-cooked pastas, tender, tasty meats and huge portions that are suitable for sharing like a big Italian family in the middle of the hustle-bustle dining room or out on the spacious, inviting patio. This is upscale Italian at low-scale prices. Start with a platter of bruschetta and anything the blackboard lists as having balsamic on it, because Carmine's is one place that knows to use a well-aged version. And then it's off to find a new belt, because not even loosening yours a few notches could prepare you for such a feast: ravioli alla vodka, rich and filling; or a thick, ragoût-like bolognese; or veal alla Carmine's, fork-tender medallions covered with cappacola and mozzarella and then baked until it becomes as one; or gooey baked ziti; or the spicy seafood fra diavolo. Mangia, mangia.
Readers' choice: Carmine's on Penn