Carmine Smeraldo—the restaurateur who built Il Terrazzo Carmine on equal footing of hospitality and impeccable Italian food—passed away in 2012, but his wife and sons have ably carried on the restaurant's legacy. Now they're adding a new chapter.
Today the family opens Intermezzo Carmine, a cicchetti and cocktail bar in the same building as its legendary forbear, but facing First Avenue. It's "inherently Italian," say the Smeraldos, but skews slightly more modern than Carmine's.
The hours are 11am to 2am, seven days a week. The Intermezzo Carmine's Facebook page is a logical destination for more details. But meanwhile, a quick look at what's doing at Intermezzo Carmine.
The Snapshot: When the owner of the rug store in front of Il Terrazzo Carmine decided to move the business to Georgetown, the Smeraldo family seized the opportunity to have a street-facing presence and be part of the transformation sweeping Pioneer Square. Sons CJ and Philip have applied their youthful perspective (CJ is a year out of college, Philip has a year to go) to establish a relationship with a younger generation of diner—the kind who stays out until 2am knocking back fernet.
Eat: Juan Vega, the chef at Carmine's, put together a seasonal menu of pasta, salads, antipasti, and cicchetti, aka little snacks or bites. However the prices ($8-$18) should tip you off that these plates of mussels or lamb chops or roasted bone marrow are decently substantial. Vega and the Smeraldos say they invested a lot of time perfecting the steak tartare, a Wagyu New York strip topped with a quail egg. The trio of panini are designed for easy lunch takeaway.
Drink: Amaro cocktails are well represented around town, but at an Italian bar, they make perfect sense. Lead bartender Cody Robison sprinkled in some summery drinks (like a mojito) and leans on locally made spirits when he can. Like Carmine's, Intermezzo will have plenty of wine from the Northwest and Italy, though here the focus is on smaller, more boutique bottles. They're accessed via two library-style ladders behind the bar. Fun.
Sit: At the giant Carerra marble-topped, zinc-backed bar, or maybe next to the little fireplace on the patio. Intermezzo has about 60 seats total, and the entire front wall folds open in warm weather. Antique windows and Venetian tiles adorn the open kitchen. It's definitely the convivial younger relation of Carmine's countryside-elegant dining room.
Bonus Intel: A TV above the bar comes out on game days, for anyone looking for a more sedate, cocktail-oriented sporting experience.