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Restaurant of the Week: Carmine’s Bellevue

A beloved local favorite since its opening, Carmine’s Bellevue is an authentic, family-owned Italian fine dining restaurant located in the historic Old Bellevue neighborhood. Routinely packed with jubilant regulars, Carmine’s Bellevue has earned its favored reputation for its consistently excellent cuisine, service and ambiance; it is a place where patrons can enjoy fantastic Italian staples and a fine selection of wines in a relaxed environment while the staff welcomes them as family. 

Opening in 2016, more than two decades after the family’s first restaurant, Il Terrazzo Carmine – an establishment that to this day is one of Seattle’s most iconic and beloved restaurants — Carmine’s Bellevue brought the family’s beloved recipe of hospitality to those living on the other side of Lake Washington. It did not take long for the restaurant to win over the Bellevue community and quickly become a neighborhood favorite.

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After the passing of legendary restaurateur Carmine Smeraldo, his wife Maria and sons Carmine and Phillip have taken the reins and continued the family legacy by upholding the stellar customer service and classic food guests had come to expect. Carmine Sr. was known for stopping by every table in his restaurants to chat with his customers and ensure everyone was happy and enjoying themselves, a tradition that his sons and beloved general manger Courtney Matteson (affectionately known to guests as Coco) continue to this day.

In addition to being known for its top-notch customer service, Carmine’s Bellevue also more than delivers in ambiance, food and beverage. Upon entering the restaurant, you will pass through a beautiful, sheltered terrazzo that overlooks Bellevue Park. This is a lovely place to savor a meal and soak up the beautiful weather during the summer months. 

Inside you will find white cloth tables with candlelight, beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings and marble countertops at the bar. The restaurant strikes a fine balance between elegant and casual, feeling upscale without ever being stuffy or uninviting. It is simultaneously charming and grand, ensuring that you feel right at home, whether it is your first visit or your hundredth.

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The food at Carmine’s Bellevue is truly something special. They make all of their pasta from scratch — including a best-in-town gluten-free fettuccine — and the kitchen staff starts in the wee hours of the morning every day to prepare the food for that day with a heavy dose of love. In addition to handmade pasta and Italian classics, there is a lovely collection of salads and antipasti dishes perfect for lunch.

One absolute must begin your meal is zuppa bi gavolo, an exquisite cream of cauliflower soup that will have you sipping the bowl. Standout pasta dishes on the menu include fettuccine al pesto con gamberoni tossed with pesto and prawns; spaghetti di finochio with housemade fennel sausage in a fennel-vodka cream sauce with freshly shaved Grana Padano; rigatoni bolognese with house-ground veal, pork and beef; and Carmine’s signature cannelloni with marinara, tomatoes, herbs and red wine.

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Beloved entrees include their famous osso buco (a center-cut veal shank braised in wine and soffritto served with tagliatelle and sauteed vegetables), Cioppino Northwest (Gulf prawns, squid, mussels, Manila clams and white fish, simmered in a rich tomato broth) and a 14-day dry-aged ribeye served with risotto, seasonal vegetables and veal demi sauce that is truly one of the best steaks in town.

As mentioned, there is a wonderful collection of wines, ranging from Italian staples to local gems from Walla Walla and Yakima Valley. Cocktails are uniformly excellent and include Carmine’s classics like Stan’s Aged Manhattan. And be sure to save room for dessert, as there are a host of lovingly housemade confections including tiramisu, red velvet cake and semifieddo — a frozen chocolate mousse with candied hazelnuts and blackberries.

Carmine’s Bellevue is open for lunch starting at 11:30 a.m., Monday to Friday, and dinner starting at 5 p.m., Monday to Saturday. To see the complete menu and to book a reservation, visit carminesbellevue.com.

88 102nd Ave. NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

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