When one thinks of Bushwick, the words “graffiti” or “hipsters” probably come to mind. When one thinks of food in the neighborhood, quite a few pizza places, authentic taco spots, solid bodega sammies, and a variety of cuisines in between may make your mouth water.
While yes, the neighborhood has a plethora of awesome options for food, there really was a gap in a quintessential category until this authentic Italian American deli popped up on March 1st. Carmenta’s, situated on the corner of Starr and Wilson, is all about recreating your favorite homestyle Italian sandwiches and pastas with a sophisticated twist and high quality ingredients.
Carmenta’s came to be by two East Coast natives, Paul Cacici and Domenick Gianfrancesco. Once just acquaintances in the restaurant industry to now current business partners, these two have made one another’s culinary dreams come true. Both chefs have been living and breathing food their entire lives. Each grew up in Italian American families that always cooked traditional, but unassuming classics. Both guys made their way into the food industry at an early age; working at delis, bartending, finding odd jobs to expose themselves to all aspects of their passion. For the past thirteen years however, Paul and Dom have been working in a bit more elevated creative culinary space than they once knew as children. After culinary school, the two cooked at higher end restaurants throughout various neighborhoods in the city, but found themselves looking for something different.
Paul emphasized that while culinary school taught him the basic techniques, it did not prepare him for the reality of the restaurant industry in NYC – for instance, being a chef in a kitchen here is not as glamorous as what you see on Food Network. While the two chefs appreciate all of the techniques they learned in school and in the field, at the end of the day they wanted to find a way to merge those tricks with the simple, homestyle Italian classics they grew up eating.
Their vision behind Carmenta’s is to offer traditional dishes using the best quality ingredients. The team makes all they can in house; like their pastas, meatballs, mozzarella, and focaccia on the weekends. Other, more specialized ingredients they bring in so they can truly offer the best of the best. For example, their bread is from Parisi Bakery, “Little Italy’s Original Bakery.” Assorted cheeses and canned tomatoes are imported from Italy (you too, can buy these cans at their shop).
The menu at Carmenta’s is super user friendly offering a curated collection of hot and cold sandwiches, pastas and appetizers. Since opening, Paul says their Meatball Parm is their most ordered sandwich, but lately since the weather has been getting warmer, the cold cut classic, Carmenta’s Combo, has started to gain popularity. The Rigatoni pasta dish is their number one pasta entree, featuring a spicy vodka sauce, guanicale, and grana pandano.
At the end of the day, Paul and Dom just want Carmenta’s to be a friendly and delicious destination for Bushwick residents who crave those homestyle favorites. While you can order their food from the comfort of your bed via ChowNow or GrubHub, the pair want you to come in and hang out awhile.
Carmenta’s Italian Specialties
Italian American Deli featuring your favorite homestyle Italian classics with a modern twist.
50 Starr Street, Bushwick
+718 676 5003
Follow Carmenta’s Italian Specialties on Instagram.