A Delicious Legacy With a Bellevue Twist: Get to Know Carmine’s
House-made angel hair pasta made with fresh squid ink, in a flavorful broth of tomato-garlic sauce, all tossed with fresh shellfish, prawns and squid... we’re hungry! That’s just one example of what you’ll find at Carmine’s, serving up family-inspired Italian fare in the Heart of Bellevue.
Nestled directly across from Downtown Park, Carmine’s delicious food is matched by a welcoming atmosphere. That’s no surprise though, as the restaurant is built on a foundation of family, friends and celebration. Although it only opened in 2016, it’s the sister restaurant to Seattle’s Il Terrazzo Carmine – the iconic bastion for fine dining, founded in 1984 by the late Carmine Smeraldo. Passionate about keeping their father’s legacy alive after his sudden passing in 2012, Smeraldo’s children, Carmine Junior, Phillip, and their mother, Maria, found the perfect spot in Bellevue and opened a new namesake restaurant: Carmine’s.
The heart of the menu is rooted in Southern Italian flavors with a Northern Tuscany influence. With over 70 items on the menu plus 10 daily specials that rotate throughout the year with the season, there is truly something for everyone.
“We really pride ourselves in how we cook our seafood,” Carmine Jr., said.
And that’s exactly what you will notice when you glance over at their menu: seafood-infused dishes, lots of light tomato and spice used, an emphasis on chili flakes and garlic. The restaurant instills an excellent, light touch to their dishes and lets the food speak for itself.
The Smeraldo siblings were born into the industry. Working the floors, washing dishes, and bussing tables at Il Terrazzo Carmine while learning the business from the ground up. This upbringing allowed them to successfully open Intermezzo Carmine (also located in Seattle) and Carmine’s here in Bellevue. The restaurant has become a staple in Downtown and continues to serve the community with the best quality of food and service.
Carmine’s is known for a celebratory atmosphere – from big birthdays to anniversaries and parties. The pandemic has hindered their ability to provide that same experience of gathering they’ve become known for. However, their staff continue to work hard and welcome guests safely.
“It’s important that people give their local restaurants patience and time to adapt to customer concerns,” Carmine Jr., said. “The staff is really putting themselves out there on the front lines to provide these experiences for people and deserve an extra level of care.”
While their business in Bellevue is doing decently well, Carmine Jr. has been reflecting on the impact the pandemic has had on their other restaurants. He attributes Bellevue’s community spirit as part of the reason why Carmine’s customers are coming back out to dine.
“Bellevue is such a tight-knit community,” Carmine Jr. said. “We feel lucky to be here and a part of it.”
If you haven’t checked out this local spot already, stop by and enjoy a glass of wine with charcuterie or devour their signature tiramisu covered in chocolate sauce and seasonal fruit (hey, no one said you have to share).
Photos by Brooke Wilson
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.