Food Porn: Carmelo’s Restaurant

After 3 1/2 years and visiting over 340 restaurants, you’d think we would have covered everything in Western New York by now. But there are plenty of great places to eat that we haven’t visited because of a variety of reasons. With Carmelo’s Restaurant, it’s simply because we are never in Lewiston. Last summer we visited Hibbard’s and Steelhead Pub before seeing the Black Keys and mentioned we couldn’t wait to come back and try Carmelo’s (which was highly recommended by several of our foodie friends). It took us 15 months, but last weekend we finally made our way back up there.

Carmelo’s is a relatively small restaurant, located in Lewiston, that is only open for dinner (5pm to 10) Tuesday through Saturday and has a seasonal menu that changes frequently to focus on local, fresh ingredients. It has been incredibly high on our ‘wish list’ for years now and is very well respected and adored by pretty much everyone we know in Buffalo’s food community. We visited the restaurant with my in-laws and had an absolutely fantastic meal; we tried a little bit of everything and even saved room for dessert (a rarity for us).

Quick Info:

  • Restaurant Type: Casual Upscale
  • Cuisine: Italian (Modern), Fine Dining
  • Location: Lewiston
  • Prices: Appetizers $6-12, Small Plates $10-20, Entrees $20-37

Before we even sat down at our table, we knew that we were going to order some charcuterie. After getting to know Carmelo’s Sous Chef Bruce Wieszala and learning about (and enjoying the spoils of) his love of the craft of charcuterie (which you can also get at Nickel City Cheese), it was obvious we’d be starting our meal off with some of his handiwork. We ordered their capicola, mortadella (fancy bologna), pork rillete, lamb liver patte and a creamy cheese that we can’t remember the name of (sorry, sometimes we forget to write everything down). The pork rillete was a big table favorite, creamy with a subtle pork flavor that went great with the house bread and crostini that came with our order. The capicola had a strong, rich flavor with a good amount of fat that just melted away with each bite, and the homemade bread and butter pickles were an unexpected favorite as well. (The pig cutting board that the charcuterie came out on was an awesome touch and Alli is now on a mission to find one for our kitchen).

Our table also ordered the Spicy Pork Meatballs (pictured above) as an appetizer. We know Carmelo’s frequently uses T-Meadow pork in several of their dishes however, the menu that night didn’t specifically mention the farm (but I am sure if it wasn’t from there it was from another great local farm). Regardless, these meatballs were insane; the pork was incredibly tender and fell apart with just our forks. The pork had a little kick that wasn’t exactly “spicy”, but the overall flavor was so fantastic that I’d order them again just for myself. I also ordered the Beef Tongue (gallery) appetizer which was served with beets and a nice creamy chive sauce. The contrast of warm beef with chilled beats was interesting and not for the less-adventurous eater. The texture of the tongue was a little different than what most people would be used too. I’ve had mixed results trying beef tongue in the past, but was happy to try it again. The beets had a really enjoyable sweet flavor that went great with the cream sauce underneath.

For my main course I ordered the Pappardelle alla Bolognese (above). The homemade pasta had a wonderful bite while the meat sauce of beef and pork was fresh and hearty with just enough tomato sauce and ricotta to not overshadow the dish. Alli ordered the Potato Gnocchi (gallery), which was served with mushrooms and pieces of speck. Alli enjoyed the texture of the the gnocchi which she described as “light and velvet-y”. The gnocchi was also covered in a brown butter sauce that really gave the dish a strong and delicious flavor and the speck added just enough of a salty kick to put it all over the top. Alli’s Dad ordered the Pork Braciole that was served with edamame, polenta and carrots. Braciole is a Southern Italian specialty, and in this case refers to pork stuffed with other savory ingredients, which was then rolled and cooked to tender perfection. He’s a picky eater and wasn’t exactly sure what he had ordered, but still enjoyed it. Alli’s Mom ordered the Delmonico Steak (gallery) that came with herb fries and baby squash. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium with plenty of juicy, pink meat. The french fries were freshly cut and seasoned heavily, sitting underneath the steak they had soaked up some delicious juice and were fought over by Alli and her Dad. Her entree quickly turned into a communal dish as almost everyone at the table had a couple pieces.

Even though everyone at our table was very full, we decided to look at the dessert menu because it was a bit of a special occasion. I had heard great things about Carmelo’s ‘candy bar’ dessert and was a little sad to see it wasn’t on the menu. However, when we saw the Chocolate Peanut Butter Semifreddo with peanut butter brittle (above), we knew we had to try it, and thank goodness we did. The long bar of half frozen chocolate and peanut butter somehow tasted like the best Butterfinger you’ve ever had and was enjoyed by everyone at the table. We also were served a complimentary dessert, a bowl with peanut butter gelato topped with homemade marshmallows that had been slightly torched. Alli particularly liked that dish and devoured the marshmallows right off the bat.

The entire meal was fantastic and shortly after we ended our feast, Chef/Owner Carmelo Raimondi came out of the kitchen to introduce himself. Everything about the experience was great; the location has a really intimate design and atmosphere, the food was perfect, the beer list was impressive and the meal was paced very well. Carmelo’s is a great restaurant for people who really love food and who like to arrive not knowing what they are going to order (but know whatever they decide on will probably be wonderful). I highly recommend taking a drive out to Lewiston (while it’s colder and not as crowded) and let Carmelo and his staff do their thing.

Photo Gallery:

Carmelo's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

2 thoughts on “Food Porn: Carmelo’s Restaurant

  1. scottycooks

    Told you you’d love it!

    • Don Burtless

      You were correct sir!

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