This afternoon, Y&H and online producer Emily Kaiser, with video camera in tow, took a tour of Carmine’s, the 20,000-square-foot, family-style Italian-American operation set to open on Tuesday in Penn Quarter. Well, perhaps on Tuesday. It could open the following Tuesday, August 10, or even the Tuesday after that, August 17.
But rest assured, it will be a Tuesday very soon. The New York City-based chain is a little superstitious about its opening dates. It always has to be a Tuesday. Whenever it opens, Kaiser will have a has video ready to give you a glimpse of what the chain is calling “the largest restaurant in Washington D.C.”
Now, I’d hate to get persnickety here, but in terms of sheer square footage, it appears Carmine’s still takes a backseat to the Clyde’s of Gallery Place, which claims to cover 23,000 square feet of prime real estate along 7th Street NW. But in terms of seating capacity, Carmine’s appears to win the battle for the biggest with nearly 700 seats, compared to 537 at Clyde’s.
UPDATE: Check out our tour recap:
Frankly, Y&H is not into these who’s-bigger contests, which smacks too much of high school locker rooms. Wherever it ranks among D.C.’s mega-dining palaces, Carmine’s is huge, with nine private dining rooms and a spacious, slightly sunken kitchen designed to prepare massive amounts of pasta and chicken parm.
Now get this: Carmine’s parent, the Alicart Restaurant Group, is not done with D.C. yet. CEO Jeffrey Bank told Y&H today that the group has been talking with landlords about bringing Alicart’s Virgil’s Real Barbecue to downtown D.C. Bank has looked at the space for the long-promised Wagamama, located across 7th Street NW from Carmine’s, which the UK-based noodle chain is apparently trying to sub-lease.
Bank didn’t think the Wagamama space would be ideal for Virgil’s, but he has another downtown space in mind for the smokehouse. No deal has been signed however. The CEO does think the Wagamama space may be good for Alicart’s other concept, the New York Jewish deli known as Artie’s, named after the late founder of Carmine’s, Artie Cutler.
It would seem that D.C. is poised to see a lot more of Alicart’s restaurants in the near future.