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Carmine’s Eatery Brings Refined Mediterranean Cuisine to Newtown Square

After spending two and a half months closed for renovations, Carmine's Eatery brings elevated Mediterranean cuisine to Newtown Square.

Carmine's Eatery
Photos courtesy Pearl Communications

When the old-school Carmine’s Pizzeria rebranded as Carmine’s Eatery earlier this spring, it dropped its casual menu and interior for a more refined approach. Mediterranean and fusion fare shines on the menu, and new head chef Imed Grami brings a Tunisian flair to Greek specialties. 

That said, Carmine’s Eatery hasn’t strayed too far from its humble roots. Instead, as its menu illustrates, it strives to elevate old favorites. Formerly known for its hole-in-the-wall attitude towards classic New York-style pizza, the eatery ditched its conveyor oven for what Grami dubs, “the Rolls Royce of ovens.”

Carmine's Eatery's pizzas are fired in the "Rolls Royce" of ovens.
Carmine’s Eatery pizzas are fired in the “Rolls Royce” of ovens.

He’s not exaggerating, either. The new oven’s cost is of the same magnitude as any luxury car brand. If you’ve tried the pizza at Carmine’s, you’ll notice that the crust is crispy, but not tough, charred just enough to add some flavor, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. That’s because this “Rolls Royce” cost $30,000.

“I like the lightness of [the pizza]. You don’t feel heavy after you eat it,” co-owner Kosta Nikolos says, and he’s right.

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So how does this translate to the experience?

For starters, you’re no longer going to walk into Carmine’s Pizzeria in socks, sandals and shorts with a stain on your shirt and ask for two pepperoni slices and a Coke. Guests at Carmine’s Eatery are more refined, and wearing a button-down and dark jeans might be more appropriate when grabbing a table at the 95-seat hotspot, which offers seating both indoors and out. This isn’t the Ritz, but it’s closer to that than it is your neighborhood pizza parlor.

Kosta and his father, Christos, spared little expense when upgrading the atmosphere at their restaurant.

Carmine's Eatery owners Kosta (left) and Christos (right) revamped their pizzeria last winer.
Carmine’s Eatery owners Kosta (left) and Christos (right) revamped their pizzeria.

“Everything came from Greece,” Kosta explains. “Four different shipments came here from floor to ceiling…and when I look at this place, it has this Euro look to it.”

Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome guests at the front of the establishment while an open kitchen and cocktail bar sit to the left and right of diners. Further back in the restaurant, beige lime plaster lines the walls, adding a certain historical gravitas.

Within the space designed by Giannis Berberis, it was important for the Nikolos family to have someone with the same ideas and understanding of Greek heritage in mind to redevelop their restaurant. Shockingly, the entire process only took about two and a half months, and by March the Nikolos family had found their man to head dining operations.

Chef Grami hails from Tunisia and, though he’s not Greek like Carmine’s Eatery’s owners, he brings Mediterranean ideas to the kitchen and menu. After leaving Tunisia, Grami worked in a number of restaurants and bars around the Philadelphia area, including Media’s ill-fated Tagine, before settling at Havertown’s Brick and Brew as head chef.

Imed Grami brings Tunisia flair to Carmine's Eatery/ (Photo credit Ben Silver)
Imed Grami brings Tunisia flair to Carmine’s Eatery. Photo credit: Ben Silver

Though the Havertown outlet is hailed as one of the region’s best bars, Grami felt the responsibilities never matched the innovation he was permitted. Carmine’s offered a cuisine both closer to home and a chance for more input on the menu. Even while he was still working at Brick and Brew after giving his two weeks, Grami was collaborating with Kosta to create a wholly unique experience at Carmine’s Eatery.

“As soon as I heard this place was modern American-Mediterranean, it [became] my favorite toy. You know as a kid, you get your new favorite toy [and] you’re so happy,” Grami shares.

The enthusiasm radiating from Grami is simply electric. He remembers walking home from school in Tunis and catching the enticing scent of the dinner his mother would be cooking before he even walked into his house. Grami hopes his diners feel the same way about the smell radiating from his kitchen.

So far, his hard work with the Nikolos family has paid off. Grami speaks with pride about a moment when an older Italian couple was amazed to discover meatballs and octopus with such unmatched flavor in America.

“I told them I’m from Tunisia,” he remembers. “They were in shock.”

The octopus does, undoubtedly, live up to the hype. Charred just a little bit, it’s served over a bed of cannellini white beans in fresh Mediterranean oil and natural seafood stock from the tentacles. Two lemon slices served on the plate add just the right amount of zest to this flavorful yet unassuming dish.

Long hot crostinis are perfect for awakeninig your palatte.
Long hot crostini are perfect for awakening your palate.

The long hot Italian crostini make for a light, yet spicy appetizer. Each piece of bread is topped with ricotta, the aforementioned peppers, prosciutto and shredded parmesan. At many restaurants, you’ll often find long hots added whole to dishes, making each bite a struggle to get only a taste of the pepper. But Carmine’s Eatery chops its long hots into morsel-sized pieces, ensuring that each bite has just right kick.

Beyond Mediterranean favorites, Carmine’s Eatery also offers an elevated cheesesteak, burger and hoagie for those who crave comforting fare. The pizza is a fantastic entry point to the Mediterranean-American fusion-style cuisine and, for only $16, what’s stopping you from taking a test-drive with the Rolls Royce of ovens?

Carmine’s Eatery
3570 West Chester Pke., Newtown Square
Website

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