Nestled within the cluster of restaurants and other retail shops within the residential neighbourhood of Watten Estate is a small collection of Italian restaurants. Donna Carmela Italian restaurant is one of them. It is probably the second most prominent restaurant as you approach this dining belt along Greenwood Avenue. The most prominent being Rubato, by virtue of its distinctive signboard. Both of them occupy large corner units and are the biggest restaurants in the area.
Donna Carmela has been here since a long time ago and is decorated in a traditional rustic style which is very appropriate for the “traditional home style cooking” that is their calling card. The indoor dining is huge and you can easily host a large party in here. There are some tables on the sidewalk just outside if you prefer alfresco dining. The menu is quite extensive. We selected a few Italian classics. The meal got off to a sweet start with an order of proscuitto ham with melon ($22). The presentation was not the most attractive we have seen, with the ham totally blanketing the melon slices. We had to peel back some pieces of ham before taking this photo. The taste, we are glad to report was better than its looks. The ham had its distinctive strong earthly taste, but not overpoweringly so. The melons were nice and sweet.
For the main course we had the linguine vongole ($23) and tender beef cheek ($39). The linguine vongole was quite beautifully plated. The pasta was well cooked to a good level of al dente. The taste was however quite average. We thought the clam content was on the low side, and this could only impart a light vongole taste to the pasta. The beef cheek came as a big lump of meat. The presentation was really not appetizing at all. We were therefore hoping that this beef cheek, which was cooked for four hours in a tomato based red wine sauce, will surprise us and taste great despite its looks. Unfortunately there was no fairy tale ending. This dish had neither looks nor personality. The meat was a blob of meat without any taste of its own. It was basically rubbery meat with a tomato sauce taste. The things that you see on the left of the meat looked like soggy fries. They were not. They were some type of thin pasta strands and were cold. Just like the meat, its companion on the plate was disappointing.
Overall, our experience at Donna Carmela was not great. We had really wanted to enjoy the dinner here as the restaurant looked so good. Notwithstanding the issues, there are a couple of positives we can point out. They serve very good bread which is crusty on the outside but soft and moist inside. The other thing which we like is their wine list. It is comprehensive and friendly – you can find a bottle to suit any budget. Our bottle of Pinot Grigio cost $39 but was simple but crisp and enjoyable. Thank goodness for it as it distracted us from the beef cheek.
Food : 2
2 Greenwood Avenue