Where have I been? I’m reprimanding myself for overlooking this gem of a restaurant on Freemans Bridge Road in Glenville. There it has sat, family-owned for 46 years, cranking out pizza, catering parties and serving top-notch Italian-American fare. Don’t you make that mistake.
Carm’s is more than a pizza joint. It’s a tidy sit-down restaurant adjacent to a takeout counter. It’s not fancy; it’s simply decorated and clean, and looks recently renovated. The walls are painted a soft gray, there are silently spinning ceiling fans and the carpet looks industrial-grade. But once your food comes out you won’t be looking around anyway.
My friend Patrice, who was raised in a big Italian family in Albany, was delighted to be there. We were seated on banquet chairs at a red cloth-covered table that had a handwritten suggestion you take home a loaf of their homemade bread. The friendly server had already brought our drinks and we were having trouble deciding what to order.
Entrees include soup or salad and bread. “Everything’s homemade,” the server told us in reply to my request for a recommendation. “The sauce, the meatballs, the sausage, the bread … ” she continued, which didn’t make the deciding any easier. We’d decided to pass on appetizers and hot sandwiches and subs; that left us entrees such as lasagna, chicken Parm and ravioli. Prices are reasonable at Carm’s. Chicken Parm is $15.25, and you get soup or salad, pasta and their fresh bread.
So we each ordered an entree, with soup for Patrice and salad for me. “This is incredibly good,” said Patrice, tasting the first of the pasta fagioli. Carm’s kitchen uses both red and white beans in their thick, stew-like soup along with sliced carrots and celery. “The spices are perfect,” she said, then, “I don’t want to stop eating this.”
Their wonderful pasta fagioli and homemade chicken noodle soup are available every day.
Carm’s gets points for tasty balsamic dressing, also homemade, with a mixture of dried spices that really gives it character. I liked the fresh lettuce mixed with mesclun greens, the pieces of green pepper and cucumber and sliced black olives. I’m not a fan of red onion but along with the grape tomatoes, it helped make the salad colorful and appealing.
Patrice loved the eggplant Parm ($15.50), fried breaded and browned slices of eggplant layered with ricotta cheese, bathed in tasty, mild and smooth house-made marinara sauce. Crispy breaded eggplant edges peeked out from under a layer of lots and lots of mozzarella cheese that had melted into complete submission.
Our conversation, which had been going along at a terrific pace, had come to a complete stop.
“Try this,” Patrice said, sliding over a plate of meatballs bathed in sauce ($3 for the side). The first bite I tasted was OK; the meatballs cut easily with a fork and unlike mine, were picture-perfectly round. But the second bite hit home: They were like the meatballs you’d had long ago at somebody’s house, if their mom was a great cook.
Patrice didn’t even get to the side of ziti topped with more of their wonderful sauce, adding it to the leftovers that would provide two more meals.
You must try Carm’s stuffed shells ($13.25), sturdy pasta vehicles filled with parsley-flecked ricotta in that same great marinara under a fabulous blanket of melted cheese. Somehow, the melted mozzarella combined with the marinara, making something entirely new and heavenly. I didn’t finish the shells, but I ate all the mozzarella cheese, which trailed delightful long strings every time. Mmm.
I also had two of their homemade sweet sausages seasoned with, crucially, fennel seed, which makes Italian sausage Italian. We both loved Carm’s sausage.
You’d think we wouldn’t have room for dessert, but I wasn’t going to pass up on something they made fresh. In addition to tiramisu and cannoli, there was lemon cake and cookies. Patrice ordered the lemon cake ($2.95), whose fresh, delicious aroma wafted to my nose as soon as the plate was on the table. It’s made of two tender sponge layers filled and topped with lemon-flavored buttercream, and white chocolate shavings on top, as if it needed anything else. I ordered a chocolate chip cookie the size of a small plate ($1.75) to go; it was made with excellent quality chocolate chunks and it disappeared within five minutes of husband Eric coming home.
Carm’s has wine and beer but we stuck to water. The tab for this terrific homestyle meal, with tax and before tip, came to a paltry $39.37.
Our server, a family member herself, took good care of us and all around, it was a very pleasant experience. Eating at Carm’s is reminiscent of dinner at someone’s house, with homemade everything, if their mom is a great cook. Don’t wait as long as I did to find that out.
WHERE: 140 Freemans Bridge Road, Glenville, 346-1474
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $39.37, with tax and before tip
MORE INFO: Children’s menu. Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Parking lot in front. ADA compliant.