By Rachel Ferry
Sunday afternoons are a great time to explore new dining options in Carmel. The waits are short, the staff is happy to see you, and well – you’re just as hungry as your are on a Friday night. This particular Sunday, we chose Puccini’s Smiling Teeth.
An unusual name for an Italian style dining establishment, confirmed by my youngest asking if we were going to the dentist, and then walking in and seeing tables and chairs. It was a Sunday afternoon, and indeed the restaurant was thin on customers.
Immediately greeted and lead to a cozy booth for four, we promptly requested water and soda to drink. Famished would be the best way to describe our oldest child. We were nearing 2pm and hadn’t had lunch. We opted to try some of their famous garlic bread (sans cheese) as an appetizer.
As we perused the extensive options of the menu, our delicious garlic bread was served. We all had a taste for something different that day. Not one person could agree on a particular pizza. I was hoping for a Humble Pie (fresh garlic, fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes and fontina cheese) while my oldest wanted a more traditional pizza (cheese – big surprise from a kid), the youngest wanted pasta and my husband wanted food. Remember, we were famished!
As the hot garlic bread settled in, we were able to make some clear decisions. Upon asking our waitress for a sample of the Alfredo sauce, we were informed, samples aren’t possible as it is all made from scratch! There are no jarred sauces in the back – each dish is individually prepared to order. My previous pizza selection went out the window for the freshly prepared Chicken Piccata. My son chose the BLT pizza, while my daughter chose fettucini Alfredo and husband rounding out the order with a large salad and bowl of pasta fagioli soup.
Our meal was promptly served upon completion of the side salad offered as a compliment to the pasta dishes. The side salads were large in portion with a homemade italian vinegar based dressing. Almost full from my indulgence in garlic bread and salad, I was still able to be sure to sample everyone’s dish.
The chicken piccata was delicious. The lemon butter sauce drizzled over a dinner plate full of linguine and tender slices of chicken (that appeared to be poached), and brightened by the generous amount of capers. I couldn’t have been happier, and am sure to order this dish again.
The fettucini alfredo was nearly perfect. We often do not order alfredo in restaurants because of the gritty texture it can have, from adding too much parmesan and not allowing it to incorporate with the cream properly. This alfredo was smooth, delicate and creamy. The fettucini noodles were perfectly al dente.
The BLT pizza is something I wouldn’t normally order. I prefer a tomato based sauce on my pizza. But the adventurous 13 year old, was in the mood for a BLT, so this was the next best option. It was literally the light crust, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and a divinely smoked bacon. A savory take on a traditional BLT sandwich.
And last, but definitely not least, the soup and salad. My husband’s soup was amazing. The tomato based broth with a touch of cream, tender vegetables and ditalini pasta, was generously portioned and hot. He chose the spring mix salad served with pecans, candied cranberries, crumbled bleu cheese & dijon vinaigrette. This was a dinner salad, versus a side salad, yet it really wasn’t as large as he had hoped. Fortunately, there were plenty of other offerings still on the table to munch on.
Overall, our dining experience at Puccini’s was wonderful. I imagine a nice, dinner date with my husband, with a glass of wine and delicious pasta in our future. But for this particular Sunday, we indeed left, with smiles on our faces big enough that our teeth would be showing.
Puccini’s Smiling Teeth is located in the Meridian Village Plaza at 13674 N. Meridian Street, in Carmel. They are open weekdays for lunch from 11am-2pm, weekdays for dinner M-Th 4pm-9:30pm and Fridays 4pm-10:30pm. Weekend hours are Saturdays noon-10:30pm and Sundays noon-9pm. Puccini’s does offer a limited delivery area, during specific hours. They are online at www.puccinissmilingteeth.com