Cottonwood Heights • A parade of restaurants have moved in and out of the semihidden dining location near Fort Union Boulevard over the past three years, a disappointment for locals who have yearned for a solid place that served food worthy of the neighborhood.
The newest occupant — Carmine’s Italian Cuisine — has found a formula that should endure.
Chef/owner Carmine Delli Bovi has updated the interior, which for years leaned Mexican, with stylish shades of gray and black that offset the white tablecloths and colorful Italian cuisine served for lunch and dinner six days a week.
Approximately half of Carmine’s menu is repeated from afternoon to evening, with smaller portions and prices at lunch, but more creativity at dinner.
A standout starter was the burrata prosciutto e melone ($12 lunch, $15 dinner) with cheese and salty prosciutto sliced from the leg in the kitchen and drizzled with balsamic.
There are other well-executed appetizers such as the caprese ($10 lunch, $12 dinner) with housemade mozzarella, or bruschetta ($8 lunch, $10 dinner), which in the evening featured ricotta and smoked salmon in addition to tomatoes.
Unfortunately, the salmon on the salmon tartare ($15) had passed its prime; even the creamy avocado base couldn’t save this overly fishy dish.
Carmine’s easily redeemed itself with its pizzas and pastas.
Don’t skip the thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas, especially the namesake Carmine ($14 lunch, $20 dinner), which melds a sweet and fatty bacon marmalade with peppery arugula and fresh mozzarella for a memorable slice. Eight classic pizzas are offered at lunch, while fewer and more gastronomically interesting options — like the porcini e patate (mushrooms and potatoes, $22) with truffle oil — add spark at dinner.
At lunch, pasta dishes skew toward familiar favorites like lasagna ($14) and carbonara ($14).
Evenings usher in a full primi pasta section. The star was the hearty portion of vegetable lasagna ($20) filled with earthy mushrooms and spinach and covered in a creamy bechamel sauce. There are also a solid gnocchi with meaty Bolognese sauce ($20) and spaghetti with an ocean of delicate clams ($25).
A smattering of sandwiches and salads at lunch are replaced at dinner with meat and seafood like the filet mignon ($32) and grilled salmon ($25).
Look into the dessert case near the entrance for daily delights that range from cream-filled profiteroles to tiramisu — all $9.
Servers at Carmine’s are attentive with water refills and wine recommendations. The restaurant is able to offer several stellar wine selections by the glass, thanks to a specialized wine system that helps prevent oxidation.
On my last visit, we were told that the elevated lounge area at the center of the restaurant is scheduled to open this month with a special food and drink menu.
Additionally, the owners almost always make their way through the dining room to ensure that guests are satisfied with their meal.
It’s these simple touches that seem to have won over the neighbors, who welcome Carmine’s with open arms and wallets.
Heather L. King also writes for slclunches.com and can be found on social media @slclunches.
CARMINE’S ITALIAN CUISINE: 3 out of 4 stars<br>Food • ***<br>Mood • ** ½<br>Service • ** ½<br>High-quality Italian cuisine in Cottonwood Heights highlighted by hearty dishes like vegetable lasagna and wood-fired pizzas.<br>Location • 6926 S. Promenade Drive, Cottonwood Heights; 801-921-9048<br>Online • facebook.com/pg/CarminesUtah<br>Hours • Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.<br>Children’s menu • No<br>Prices • $$-$$$<br>Liquor • Beer and wine<br>Corkage • $12<br>Reservations • Yes<br>Takeout • Yes<br>Wheelchair access • Yes<br>Outdoor dining • Yes<br>On-site parking • Yes<br>Credit cards • All major