It’s 7:45 on Thursday night. We’ve finally arrived home after an evening of softball, soccer, and dance. Tired and hungry, my family members turn to me expectantly.
What’s for dinner?
Seriously? I’d literally been with them at the ball fields and the dance studio for the last four hours; when would I have had time to make dinner?
There’s only one solution on a night like this.
Reflexively, I grab my phone to place an order with Papa John’s, which we’ve been regularly ordering from for years because its pizza is approved by my pickiest eater (the rest of us think it’s okay). I open up the Papa John’s app, and then it dawns on me.
There IS another way.
We don’t have to sacrifice taste for the sake of convenience. We can have authentic, hand-tossed pizza topped with fresh ingredients delivered to our door just as easily as the so-so pizza from Papa John’s.
I open up the Bite Squad app and place an order for Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza.
A few weeks earlier, my husband Travis and I had eaten at Carmine’s for the first time. The restaurant, owned by New Jersey native Bill Carmine Cornell, opened in 2016 in a cheerful yellow building in downtown Joplin.
We were lucky to find a seat, as the family-friendly restaurant was bustling that Friday night. We each ordered a beer (a regional KC Bier Dunkel for me) and settled in to study the menu.
I knew that Carmine’s featured New York and Neapolitan-style pizzas, and I had a basic understanding of each type, but I did some research ahead of time because, well, I’m curious. Here’s what I learned, both from the information online, and from our friendly server at Carmine’s.
New York-style pizza has a thin crust that is basically uniform throughout, and is sturdy enough to support lots of cheese and other toppings without getting soggy or falling apart. Yet, it is pliable enough to fold in half and eat on the go, in the classic New Yorker way. At Carmine’s, the New York-style pizzas measure 16” and are cooked in a Baker’s Pride deck oven at 550 degrees.
We ordered the Italian Sausage, which was topped with crushed tomatoes, Mozzarella and Pecorino-Romano cheeses, in addition to the flavorful sausage.
The sauce had a nice balance of sweet and savory, and the taste reminded me of the thin-crust local pizza that I grew up eating in Chicago. There really is more to Chicago pizza than deep-dish, so if you’re ever up there, try some thin-crust from Rosati’s.
Neapolitan-style pizza has a thin, airy crust that puffs up and sometimes chars on the edges. Dollops of cheese are used on this crust in order to avoid making it soggy. At Carmine’s the Neapolitan-style pizzas measure 13” and are baked at around 800 degrees in an Acunto wood-fired oven, hand built in Naples, Italy.
Hmm, does Papa John’s have one of these?
We ordered a Neapolitan classic: Margherita. It was made with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, fresh Mozzarella, Pecorino-Romano, fresh basil, olive oil, and sea salt. Simple, fresh, heavenly.
The pizza dough at Carmine’s is handmade in small batches (there’s a gluten-free option, too), and allowed to ferment for 24 to 48 hours before being hand-stretched and tossed and made into some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in Joplin.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, don’t let that stop you from choosing Carmine’s for your next meal. Try one of the salads, like the Caprese, or a calzone, sausage roll, or maybe a meatball or sausage sandwich.
Whatever you do, leave room for dessert. With a variety of mouthwatering cakes and even Nutella Pizza, it would be a crime to pass it up.
I had heard about how amazing the Lemon Basil Sorbetto was, and it lived up to the hype. I got the very last scoop.
We also ordered the beautiful homemade cannoli,
which I enjoyed with a robust espresso.
How cool is it that Bill Cornell has brought a taste of New York to Joplin with his restaurant Carmine’s?
See you later, Papa John’s.
To read more about my adventures in the area, visit JoplinMOLife.com.