Carmella’s [Chicken Pesto Pannini]
Roughly three times a month a local THRIVE network group meets for lunch at local establishments. THRIVE, if you are not familiar with it, stands for Together Helping Restaurants Improve Valuable Exposure. It’s an opportunity for local professionals to not only network, but it also gives us a chance to try out restaurants in the Fox Valley area (and Wausau if you ever head up that way). Anyway, on Monday the THRIVE Lunch was held at Carmella’s an Italian Bistro, which is located at 716 North Casaloma Drive. It’s kind of tucked in there near the Fox River Mall.
Fresh Bread, Good Sandwich
In the immortal words of Korben Dallas — played by Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element (1997) — I speak two languages: English and bad English. So it came as no surprise that a menu full of Italian words was a little intimidating. Even though the menu gives some hints, I played it safe and went for something I was familiar with and opted for the chicken pesto pannini. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I love fresh bread. It’s one of my “if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 foods” items. As luck would have it, on each table was a loaf or two of fresh crusty warm bread with a bit of oil and vinegar on the side. Delicious. Ok, now that’s out of the way. back to the pannini. Three words: It. Was. Excellent. Not only was the sandwich full of various flavors and textures (crusty bread, smooth pesto, etc.), it came with a small garden salad dressed in vinegar. The sharp vinegar flavors complemented the savoriness of the sandwich very well; the only thing missing was something sweet.
The food and the service were both outstanding. My only complaint was actually based on the fact that Monday’s THRIVE Lunch had an incredible turnout (a good thing!). I think we had roughly 30 people there, perhaps more. We were seated comfortably at long tables, but the room we were in was fairly small and got pretty loud with that many chatty folks all striking up conversation at the same time. I’ve read that the current trend in restaurant aesthetics is to blame for this as restaurateurs are opting for hard, flat, and square surfaces. Looks nice, but doesn’t do much for the sound level.
All-in-all, both myself and Melissa (who happened to order the same dish), both thoroughly enjoyed Carmella’s an Italian Bistro and the company of our fellow THRIVE’ers.
Carmella’s an Italian Bistro
716 North Casaloma Drive
Appleton, WI 54913