Boston >Food & Dining > Carmen
33 North Sq, Boston, MA | Directions 0211342.363526 -71.053862
Tuesday To Wednesday From 05:30 PM To 11:00 PM Thursday To Saturday From 11:30 AM To 02:30 PM Thursday To Saturday From 05:20 PM To 11:00 PM
Neighborhoods: Central, North End
Unbelievably bad management – *Sigh* I heard great things about this restaurant. I was really excited to try it. Called on Wed to make a reservation for 2 for Friday. They told me all they had was 9PM. I accepted that and then they told me that 'actually, 9:15, is that ok?". Yes, that is fine. Went out for drinks at 7:30, then checked in at Carmen at 9PM. The bartender/hostess checked off my name on the list and told me they were running a little behind, it would be about 9:30. OK, no problem. She took my cell phone and told me she would call me when my table was ready and recommended a restaurant around the corner for more drinks. I checked back in around 9:45. Gave her my name again to confirm. She said they were not ready yet. We sat at other restaurant for another drink. Waited for phone call from hostess. Finally, we smartened up at 10:30 and ate at other restaurant. NEVER received a phone call from hostess to let me know my table was ready. Really? How is that even an acceptable way to run a business? I'm appalled quite honestly. I gave her ZERO attitude and was totally nice. Maybe that's why I was brushed off? I've never had that happen before. Take heed about other reviews that mention waiting a long time despite reservation. It's true.
cold, not great – This is a very small restaurant. If you are prone to being cold, do not go there on a chilly night, as you will feel a cold draft every time the door is opened. Sometimes the wait staff would keep it open.
Our reservation was on the early side, and halfway through our meal it became apparent that they were expecting a large group, and trying to get us out as quickly as possible. We had planned a nice meal but we were out within about an hour and fifteen minutes. However, since I was frozen, I was happy to get out of there.
By 730 many people were waiting outside in the cold for their tables.
The food is not special, but the prices are not very high either.
Wonderful place – We recently lived in Boston for four years and for whatever reason always found Carmen's closed as we cruised the North End for food adventures. Having left Boston and returned for a visit, we walked in late one afternoon and was seated immediately, being politely warned that our table was reserved for someone else a reasonably period later.
Had a great and exceptional meal and wonderful service.
Have since been back several times when visiting Boston - with reservations that were honored - and our first reaction was only reinforced.
Hope they keep it up!
Thank you all whoever the three blond ladies who took care of us were, as well as the chefs in the very cramped kitchen are.
Absolutely Horrible Hostess – My bf and I had planned to go to Carmen for dinner and he made reservations early in the week for Friday night. We arrived on time and gave the hostess our name. She then told us 1 second and proceeded to call someone, lost the call and called the person back. In the meantime, 2 other people came into the restaurant. She immediately said hello to them and said just a moment. We had now been at the door for about 7 min. She then told them "right this way." To which I responded, "I don't understand?" The couple responded, "Oh we have a 8:00 reservation." To which my bf said, "we do too." They responded "oh gosh, this doesn't make sense." The hostess had already walked away and led them to what we thought was our table. We then asked if we could just sit at the bar. She told us that she had "just spoken on the phone with someone who would like to sit there." (You mean the people who called AFTER we were in the restaurant for 10 minutes? AFTER we made a reservation 3 days ago?!) She took us to our table which was on the other side of the curtain blocking the door. Anytime the door opened it was absolutely freezing. We had been sitting for a moment when another table opened up in the back. We asked the hostess if we could move, she walked away, turned around quickly and said "thats being reserved." The couple JUST LEFT! I then said " do we need to specify in the future where we want to sit when making a reservation?" To which she responded, "Its a small restaurant." (No kidding! Its super romantic thats why we had come. There are now 3 OPEN tables!) She then said, "we have a lot of regulars that we cater to." I said, "Oh, so what about the new people that come to Carmen? Tough luck?" She then looked at me, smirked and said ENJOY YOUR DINNER. We left. In the tough economic times its people like this that will ruin a business. Why would I spend my money at a place where I'm treated as a 2nd class diner bc the hostess didn't like me? Horrible!
such a wonderful time! – I have never written a review before .... but let me tell you what a great experience! came in last night for diner, we were told our table would be ready in a few minutes, not a big deal.. we were offered seats at the bar and and a glass of wine while we waited for our table. the bartender/hostess was very attentive! actually we ended up eating at the bar, what fabulous seats... our meals where incredible! The scallops were to die for! perfect sized portions! and our service was spectacular! we will be back to dine at the bar on thursdays from now on!
Delicious! – I?ve never written a review for anything online before, but after reading the review below, I felt compelled to share my experience to balance things out.
My wife and I stumbled upon Carmen one evening this past winter during a pouring rain, and we were pleasantly surprised. The restaurant was small and busy, but they fit us in regardless after a small wait.
The food was absolutely delicious and the service was pleasant. We?ve returned twice since, and although the servers are not falling on your every word, we?ve never found fault with them in comparison to other North End restaurants.
The menu is an unusual gathering of unique dishes. The appetizers are to die for. Don?t go here for the typical pasta and lasagna!
Carmen Way Overrated – Showed up at Carmen for my 9:00 reservation for 2. Seated at the bar, supposedly to wait for our table, 15 minutes later, the hostess finally came over to tell us she can " offer us this bar table, however if we don't want it she will offer it to someone else at the bar" - confused I asked her what our options were, she said, we are running 25 minutes behind, so we would need to wait outside. No apologies, not even an apologic tone. Given the option to either, wait in the rain or sit at the bar and eat, we took the option to eat at the bar. Our waitress, was nice, still since she was also attending the bar, it was really hard for her to fully serve us. The food was average, at best, nothing to write home about. The waitress never asked if we were done dining, instead we were rushed and given a check by another waitress, and no one explained that they do not serve dessert. So many amazing restaurants in the North End, and this is not one of them.
Reservations not honored – If you actually want to eat don't go here. I had made a reservation for 4 (my parents, my husband and myself) for 8pm. We called to reconfirm at lunch and then called at 7:45 to check in and see how busy they were. We were told everything with our reservation was fine. When we arrived the hostess advised we would have a 20 minute wait. 30 minutes later she advised that there was another table of 4 that was ahead of us and then we would be next, maybe another 15 minutes. Our reservation was not honored but the hostess kept telling different people in our party different stories. If you like being lied to and not eating then this is the place for you.
My Favorite Place in the North End – I've lived in the North End for over 5 years now, but have somehow never managed to find this small, off-the-beaten path gem until recently. It has quickly become my favorite place. I see some people on this site have complained about how small the dining room is and that there is no place to wait. It's funny, but I find that to be one of the charming things about this intimate little slice of heaven. If you are anti-social, don't want to get cozy with those around you and enjoy a warm atmosphere, in both ambience and attitude, try somewhere else. CARMEN has a broad menu with decent portions and great wine (only beer and wine, no liquor). While the food and atmosphere are top rate, the service is the best part. The people that work at CARMEN love being there. They love food and they love their customers. It's exactly what a small Italian restaurant is supposed to be. Try CARMEN once and you will want to make it a regular haunt.
Excellent food, very few tables – Easily one of the best meals out I have ever had. A friend who had been to Carmen recently let me know a little of what to expect in advance. If you have to wait for a while the entry way can be an uncomfortably tight squeeze but once you get inside its easy to see why so many people want to come here. That?s what she said, and after experiencing it myself I couldn?t agree more. Heeding her advice, my girlfriend and I made reservations in order to secure one of the very limited number of tables which fill Carmen?s candlelit and cozy exposed brick interior. We arrived 15 mins early so the hostess took down my phone number directing us to a nearby wine bar where we could avoid standing in the crowded entrance way or freezing to death outside the door. Our table was ready exactly 10 mins beyond our reservation time as promised so after pounding what was left of our glasses of wine we headed back and were seated immediately. The menu isn?t very extensive but it?s definitely a quality versus quantity type of deal here. Everything we ordered was excellent. The olive oil for bread dipping had a notably rich and authentic olive taste which explained the lack of peppers or various spices found in most others I?ve come across. The marinated olives included three varieties all of which I claimed to be my favorite at one point. It was difficult to focus on the olives since our grilled flat bread arrived at the same time and was probably the best thing I?ve ever eaten with my hands. We shared both of our entrees. The Seared Scallops were right on. Slightly crisp outside and al dente, but not over cooked inside. A butternut squash risotto backdrop made the perfect compliment. The Linguini and Clams came in a powerfully tasty red sauce which allowed for a moment to sit back, rub my belly, and consider just how great everything was that we?d just taken in. If you enjoy great food, eat here!
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