Carmelo’s Cucina Italiana
If you miss classic Italian dining, you’ll fall for this serene white-tablecloth stalwart in the Energy Corridor, especially since Benjamin Berg, of B&B Butchers, purchased the restaurant from Carmelo Mauro and recruited a professional chef from New York. New menu highlights include fifteen house made pastas cranked out from a high-tech pasta machine; we liked the shrimp scampi linguine kissed with garlic and toasted bread crumbs. The rest of the menu showcases expertly cooked classics and longtime favorites such as osso bucco and super appetizers like whipped ricotta with herbs, olive oil, and grilled bread and carpaccio (deftly sliced from wagyu filet mignon) with arugula, fingerling potato chips, and truffle vinaigrette. Though a gigantic bone-in veal chop Parmigiana with a crispy coating and pumped up pomodoro sauce deserved the wows it got at our table, we weren’t as thrilled with our Chilean sea bass Livornese; a mild tomato sauce (with black olives and capers) seemed at odds with the richness of the roasted fish, served over buttered whipped potatoes. A new bar and patio are in the works, but for now the space is still quaint, with a cozy, quiet dining room. Service is pampering, and guests tend to linger. No wonder—it’s a throwback to the days before fast table turning, loud music, and eater-tainment.