Come in and try our hearty and rich pasta dishes, including the Tortellini Carbonara and Pantacce Tuscane Alfredo, or possibly some of our well known, scrumptious seafood such as Grilled Salmon or authentic Black Pepper Calamari. Carmella’s even offers fresh, made to order pizza, pasta and sandwiches. Whether it’s for the food or for the family, both can be found at Carmella’s Italian Restaurant at affordable prices.
There are two things relevant to Italian culture; Food and Family. At Ed Ahlswede’s new restaurant, Carmella’s Café you get both.
Named after Ed’s mother-in-law, Carmella’s backbone is made up of Ed, his wife Betty, their two daughters, Lisa and Laura, and their son-in-law and head chef, Rory.
Carmella’s Café in Boardman exudes an unmistakable classy-casual ambiance. Friendly tables create a more informal setting while a row of cozy booths invite you to a more intimate dining experience.
Carmella’s has a unique partnership with The Bread Chef, an artisanal bread shop just a couple doors down. Baking bread is an art and when combined with the beautiful dishes at Carmella’s it creates a masterpiece you can’t wait to taste.
The menu is unique and very descriptive so you may have a hard time deciding what to try first. Trust me, you’ll want to try everything. A great way to start would be with a bowl of Carmella’s own Hot Peppers in Oil, a basket of warm Italian bread and a cup of their Homemade Wedding Soup. Tiny meatballs (rolled by hand and if they’re too big, Betty will make sure they get rolled to size) and chicken simmered in a rich broth that’s loaded with Italian greens. It’s the perfect start to a meal but it’s also the perfect lunch on a cold day. A Valley staple is Italian Greens and Carmella’s continues the tradition. Escarole is sautéed in olive oil with just enough fresh garlic, coarsely chopped banana peppers and beans. These greens are yummy. They’re not just topped with a soggy pepper. The thick chunks of fresh banana peppers add an al dente crunch while the beans add a smoky taste. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with fresh Italian bread, I have a feeling this will be their most ordered appetizer on the menu.
Speaking of lunch, Carmella’s lunch menu offers appetizers and salads, fresh to order pizza, pasta and a great selection of sandwiches. You’ve got to try the Fried Egg and Bologna Sandwich. Thick sliced bologna is seared then topped with a fried egg and a slice of provolone cheese, then set on a delicious, fresh sesame roll next to a side of French fries, veggie, cole slaw or pasta. It all blends perfectly, the crisp, browned bologna has a nice smoky taste that compliments the melted provolone that holds it all together. It’s one of the most popular sandwiches on the menu and one taste will tell you why. Another customer favorite is the Chicken Carmella. A grilled chicken breast is topped with Italian greens, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, tomato then smothered in mozzarella cheese. Served on a fresh bun, I can see why this is a favorite. The chicken is moist and tender and the cheese holds it all together. I love sandwiches so this one goes to the top of my list. Carmella’s also has a Breaded Eggplant Sandwich. If you’ve never tried eggplant, this is the place to try it. Two thick slices of eggplant are lightly breaded and fried perfectly. Nice and tender on the inside, crunchy and seasoned on the outside. The eggplant is topped with fontinella cheese, lettuce and fresh tomato. Delicious. All the flavors work perfectly together, there’s a nice hint of garlic and the bread is absolutely amazing.
Carmella’s offers a couple very unique salads; a Mediterranean Salad and a Panzanilla Italian Bread Salad. I was very happy to be served the latter and couldn’t wait to try it. Artisan bread cubes are tossed with grape tomatoes, purple onion, cucumbers, sweet red and yellow peppers and Kalamata olives then placed on a medley of fresh Italian greens that are tossed in a light balsamic vinaigrette. I love this salad because it’s not drowning in dressing. Everything is so colorful and fresh. It’s a perfect salad that I can’t wait to have again.
When you look at the menu, you’ll see the pasta dishes have some names you may not be used to seeing; succhietto, pantacce or tripoline. According to Ed, they “don’t use run of the mill stuff”. All the pasta is ordered from an Italian vendor whose pasta is very good. “Just wonderful authentic Italian noodles, premium noodles”. I personally love the different shapes of pasta, it definitely creates a more interesting dish. Take the Pantacce Tuscan Alfredo; pantacce are like bite sized, ruffle edged, lasagna noodles. It’s perfect for this dish because the pasta allows the creamy, rich alfredo sauce to dance on top of it while wrapping around fresh broccoli and grape tomatoes. The sprinkling of shredded parmesan on top adds one more texture and taste to this beautiful, delicious dish. Ed’s favorite pasta dish is now mine as well, and it could be because it has pancetta, is the Tortellini Alla Carbonara. Tri-colored “little cakes”, fresh mushrooms, grape tomatoes and crisp sautéed pancetta are tossed in a thick carbonara sauce then topped with grated romano cheese. The pancetta is in every bite and the sauce is so smooth and creamy. It’s a dish that tastes as good as it looks.
A lot of people associate an Italian restaurant with mostly pasta dishes. At Carmella’s, they offer great pasta dishes, but they also offer some wonderful other dishes as well. They serve an absolutely amazing Half Italian Roasted Chicken that you will not get anywhere else. A half chicken is generously seasoned with Italian herbs and spices then roasted to the most gorgeous golden color. When you taste this chicken, you’ll taste the seasoning all the way through. It’s so juicy, so tender, and so good. Served with a generous portion of cubed, Italian roasted potatoes and a side salad, it’s another visual and palatable masterpiece from chef Rory.
You’ll probably be too full for dessert but there is a dessert that no matter how full you are, you will thoroughly enjoy the irresistible Lemon Sorbetto. This beautiful, delicate, refreshing dessert is the only way to end your meal at Carmella’s. The top is sliced off a whole lemon, carved out, then candied and filled with an icy lemon sorbet. It’s the perfect way to cleanse your palate after an amazing meal.
Carmella’s has so much to offer with its comfortable setting, unique menu, great service, and quality food at an affordable price. They’ve recently added on an outdoor patio and their full bar offers some exquisite drinks. Ask Diana to create one of her Martini Masterpieces. They almost look to pretty to drink. Three popular martinis are the Chocolate Covered Cherry, the Caramel Apple or the Pineapple Upside Down which smelled delicious.
Carmella’s is all about Italian culture and tradition that includes food and family. Carmella’s is celebrating their one year anniversary in September. If you haven’t been there yet, you’ve got to see why people keep coming back. When you enter you can expect to be taken care of by someone in the family, you’ll have a wonderful meal, and when you leave, you’ll feel like you’re now part of the family and you’ll already be planning your next visit.