Carmine’s on Penn: Fresh, Family Dining—Italian Style

Serving family-style Italian cooking, Carmine’s on Penn is a neighborhood joint worth revisiting.

Since 1994, Carmine’s on Penn has been bringing Italian family-style dining to Denver, using fresh ingredients in its generous portions—and luring regulars back again and again for more.

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Still in its original home at the corner of Pennsylvania and Bayaud, Carmine’s on Penn is a restaurant that keeps families coming back for more. Courtesy Carmine’s on Penn

Owner Brad Ritter, who bought Carmine’s in 2008, relates the restaurant’s philosophy to cooking with your extended family. “Sooner or later, you get everyone to sit down and have a meal and Grandma would say, ‘eat some more’—and it would taste especially good because it would have Grandma’s love involved,” he says. “We don’t have Grandma, so we try to make the best food instead, and we try to get the best ingredients we can.”

And it’s not just the regulars who return to Carmine’s for years. Ritter, an 11-year veteran of the eatery, says many employees have been with the restaurant for more than a decade, something uncommon in the industry. One such employee is head bartender Alison Dykstra, who started next door at Carmine’s sandwich shop a little over three years ago.

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Carmine’s offers family-style dining. Courtesy Carmine’s on Penn

Dykstra says it’s the sense of family that makes Carmine’s a special place to work. “Whether that’s how people are treated, how they’re eating, how they feel—we all take it very personally when you sit down,” she says.

And that focus on relationships extends to the community. Since 2008, Carmine’s has been involved with the Delores Project, an organization that provides shelter and services to unaccompanied women and transgendered people in Colorado. For several years, the restaurant has hosted an annual event for the shelter, donating nearly two-thirds to three-fourths of the profits to the group, with 10 percent coming from Carmine’s employees. As part of the event, one table is filled with women staying at the shelter.

Carmine’s on Penn: 92 S. Pennsylvania St., 303.777.6443, carminescolorado.com

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