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First Look

Carmine's CG Burgers and Coal Fired Pizza Part of a Growing Empire

No fool, Carmine Giardini. The restaurateur and grocer is covering every dining base possible with the opening of CG Burgers and Carmine's Coal Fired Pizza in Abacoa.

He's got the gourmet market, trattoria and pizzeria, and Noche supper club in Palm Beach Gardens. He's one of a few behind Cabo Flats, a fairly new Mexican, downtown at The Gardens.

Now, it's CG Burgers and the pizzeria/trattoria joined by a bar, in Jupiter's Abacoa. Plans are, we hear, to franchise this around the country with more than 200 in his sights. While the Italian-pizza side of this is old hat to Giardini, the all-beef patty world is new.

Options aplenty at CG Burgers

The burger half of this two-fer will seem familiar if you've been to any modern "gourmet-have-it-your-way" burger joint.

Thing is, you can only have it your way, temperature-wise, if you order the special Kobe beef burger. The others are apparently not big enough to warrant cooking medium or under.

It's a counter-order deal where the servers deliver food to the tables. (Inside or out.) Plan to bus your own table; service was slack at this.

Choose from 10 styles of "all natural" beef burgers from the basic CG Junior ($3.50), a plain single-stack - to the bigger Pub Burger ($5), or now ubiquitous pedigree, the American Kobe ($9.50).

Pub burgers come dressed if you wish: Cuban, with smoked ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. California - avocado and sprouts, of course. The Napa Valley sports goat cheese, arugula and a Balsamic honey mustard. The Philly-cheese has peppers, onions and gooey white American cheese. Those city burgers are $5.50 each.

Our bites

We tried it out a couple of times; the pub burger with "the works" was fine - juicy even though temp is cooked done - not well done, but done. The egg bun is toasted and tasted soft and fresh. Free toppings include the standards, and we were happy to see grilled onions, mushrooms and sweet peppers among them.

Standard fries were good, and handcut ($2) - crispy enough, even after we let them sit. We thought the garlic fries were a rip-off - for 50 cents more, they sprinkle some garlic salt on top. Big whoop. We're not fond of sweet potato fries ($2) with a bad boy burger - you're already blowing it, so go all the way.

Beer list was good till we ordered, then they were out of a couple and we had to make different choices from their imports. Prices are within range - $2.75 for domestic drafts, up to $4.50 for imported bottles.

Un-beef offerings

The menu veers from here, into lamb, chicken, turkey, sausage and vegetarian burgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, grilled cheese, wings, and carving board types of sliced filet, turkey, prime rib.

There's also prime rib on a kimmelweck roll, au jus and with horseradish. (Order it as a "Beef on Weck" like you know what you're doing. Bar trivia for you: a Beef on Weck is the model for Arby's original sandwich.)

A salad bar is $5 and has substantial choices of fresh greens with numerous toppings splayed out.

Service was "eh." This was apparently much improved from the start-up when chaos was the diplomatic description. Servers are young high schoolers and apparently, get their feelings hurt easily, according to an unnamed manager. "They tell their parents they got yelled at because they aren't doing their work, and the moms and dads come in, raise a fuss, and so they quit. It's been tough keeping help and training them."

Carmine's Coal Fire Pizza

The other half of this place is conjoined, so you can walk through a hallway that leads to a long bar, the back-end of Carmine's Coal Fired Pizza. The front dining room has booths and tables, which face the open pizza kitchen.

We went for a large pizza ($13.95, plus toppings at $1 each), and while it had good sauce and the sausage topping was adequate, the crust was the let-down. Soggy - what's up with that? One of the chefs we spoke to afterward said they were still training cooks to control the temperamental coal ovens to get the temps right. Too hot, and the crust burns; too low, and the sauce has time to soak into the crust and make things steam instead of crisp. Oh, the drama!

The outer crust edge was dry, too - what's up with that? Service, however, was spot-on on this side of the restaurant.

Other offerings: pastas --for family style sharing, since this is a young neighborhood spot - or individual portions, a nice option (most $9.95), meat-based main courses, around $12.95 -- salads, flatbreads - the new darling of the Italian restaurant world - and paninis (around $7). Desserts, wines and beer.

It's a good spot for a night out when nobody can decide what they want. If CG dips back into the world of sushi, he'll have them all covered.

CG Burgers
4575 Military Trail, Jupiter
Phone: (561) 340-3940;
Open daily, lunch and dinner

Carmine's Coal Fired Pizza
4575 Military Trail, Jupiter
Phone: (561) 340-3930;
Open daily, lunch and dinner
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Jan Norris

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