A peek inside Carmine's Brazilian Grill

carmines brazilian exterior

Just up from the corner of Pearl and Sheridan.

We stopped by Carmine Sprio's soon-to-be-open restaurant in downtown Albany late Friday afternoon to peek in the widows. Ethan had mentioned he saw furniture being moved in, and we were curious to see how things were shaping up.

As it turned out, Sprio was there and he was nice enough to give us a quick tour and tell us a little more about the restaurant's concept, which sounds like something a bit different for the Capital Region.

Here's a quick look, along with a few details.

carmines_brazilian_carmine_sprio.jpg

From his years on TV, Sprio is an enthusiastic and smooth pitchman for his ideas. But it's been about 2.5 years since eponymous, and long-running, Italian restaurant in Albany closed. And his brief stint at Vin Santo in Latham ended not long after that. In talking with us, he seemed happy -- and maybe more than a little stoked -- to be back running a restaurant. [Tablehopping] [Tablehopping]

As of Friday afternoon, the space was still very much a work in progress. Furniture was being unpacked and arranged. The kitchen was still getting organized. A lot of the finishes were still incomplete. But the space has a warm, cozy a feel to it. And it's completely unrecognizable from its club days as the Bighouse/Skyline. Sprio said the developer had gutted the building, and they were able to build the restaurant interior more or less from scratch. (There are condos upstairs.)

carmines_brazilian_dining_starter_bar.jpg
The large surface will be the "starter bar."

carmines_brazilian_tiled_wall.jpg

carmines_brazilian_bar_area.jpg
Seating in what will be the bar area, at the front of the restaurant.

The concept

The restaurant is based on the Brazilian concept of churrasco, basically grilled meats. Sprio says one of his earliest restaurant experiences was working in a Brazilian restaurant, and he's been looking to do something like this for years.

He showed us the custom-made grill/rotisserie in the kitchen where the skewers of meat will be grilled:

carmines_brazilian_rotisserie.jpg

So, here's how Sprio explained it would work:

+ There's a flat per person charge ($32, plus extra for drinks). For that, you get all-you-can-eat grilled meat (of all sorts of varieties), brought to your table on skewers -- servers carve the meat right off the skewers at the tableside. The table also gets its choice of two sides, as well as Brazilian cheese bread. And everyone gets to hit up the "starter bar" -- which features as many as 30 different items such as marinated olives or white bean salad or peel-and-eat prawns -- whenever they like.

+ Tables will have cards -- green on one side, red on the other. Not ready for grilled meat? Keep the card flipped red side up. Bring on the skewers? Flip it green. The card can be flipped back and forth during the meal.

+ There will also be an ala carte menu at the bar for people who just want to have a drink and a small plate.

carmines_brazilian_airport.jpg
One of the restaurant's wifi nodes.

+ Sprio's also hoping to include a social media angle to the dining experience. Servers will be using iPads to take orders -- but the tablets will also be used to give customers an opportunity to post on Facebook or Twitter about their meal. And frustrated by poorly lit mobile photos of food, Sprio says they're also hoping they'll be able to give people a chance to get better photos of the food.

+ There's also an event room upstairs that Sprio says won't be finished for another few weeks. He says the space will be available for parties (he says they can design menus to fit a range of budgets), or even as a place for people to relax with coffee after a meal.

Menu draft

Here are a few menu item listings that were taped up in the kitchen. Of course, some of this is sure to change:

Carmines Brazilian Draft Menu

The opening

Sprio says the official grand opening is planned for March 22. But the restaurant will be open for an Equinox fundraiser this Thursday (two seatings, at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm, $75 at the door, check payable to Equinox). And the restaurant will have a soft opening in the days after that, that leading up to the grand opening.

Earlier on AOA: Carmine Sprio opening Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Albany

Find It

Carmine's Brazilian Grill
4 Sheridan Ave
Albany, NY 12207

Comments

I have been to a couple of Brazilian steak-houses in Florida and Texas. This is a meat-lover's paradise. In the two I went to you had a card next to your plate, one side colored green (bring me more meat!) and the other side colored red (please stop I need a break!). Basically it is a never-ending parade of freshly cooked meats brought to your table, beef, pork, and lamb. The ones I went to also had a nice wine selection to go with the meats and a very diverse salad bar to complement the meal, including hard cheeses and other sides, fresh mozarella, tomatoes, etc. For those vegetarians out there you probably will not get your bang for the buck given that you have to pay that flat fee just to walk in the door.

"Servers will be using iPads to take orders -- but the tablets will also be used to give customers an opportunity to post on Facebook or Twitter about their meal."

...for the first week

Great to see another restaurant coming to downtown - especially with a cuisine different than what's already here. Looking forward to checking it out. Only somewhat disappointing thing is that from the photos it doesn't look like a lot of creativity went into designing the space, especially if the build-out was from scratch. White drop tile ceilings? Ugh. Hopefully some great meat will keep eyes focused on the plates.

Well, this sounds incredible. Can't wait to try it!

All of the churascarrias I've been to offer a salad bar (vegetarian) option which is less expensive... Hope Carmine will follow suit!

"but the tablets will also be used to give customers an opportunity to post on Facebook or Twitter about their meal."

The odds that a random person on the street has a smartphone are great, better than half, and they're even greater if they have a Facebook or Twitter account to post to. Please don't shove your iPads in people's faces encouraging them to post about your restaurant. People who want to do that likely already have all the tools they need.

$32 plus drinks seems a bit pricey for Albany.

I agree with eat meat on the design. In fact, I haven't even read the article yet but the interior design is so uninteresting to me that I just could not wait to comment. The idea of the tile wall was a good one (notice I said the "idea" of the tile wall). I'll hope that the lighting in the space will create some sort of atmosphere.

If the bar is serving caipirinhas I'm there

Glad to see Carmine back BUT that decor is just dreadful !

I was an exchange student living near Rio de Janeiro oh so many years ago and remember churrasco ALWAYS being served with a side of farina, with which you could optionally coat the meat. I'm hoping that Carmines adds that to the sides/dips menu as well.

"$32 plus drinks seems a bit pricey for Albany"

Really? I paid $32 for an entree alone the other night (and damn was it good). $32 for what is essentially an open meat-lovers buffet sounds more like a bargain to me,.

$32 plus drinks seems a bit pricey for Albany.

This is why we can't have nice things.

$32 plus drinks seems a bit pricey for Albany.

Are you kidding me?! I would expect to pay $30 for a steak with one side... this is $32 for unlimited amounts of over a dozen different types of grilled meats. Plus two sides and that starters bar, which sounds great on it's own. In the city, I imagine this would easily be double the price at a nice place.

Again, can't wait to try it!!

When i went to La Fonda del Sol in N.Y.C. it was a feast for the eye as well as palate. This place needs a do over, not attractive ,and prices ridiculous!

This looks nothing like the Lark Tavern that I loved - I'm not going.

Love that they have Pao de quejo! Why no pudim de leite(Brazilian style flan) in the deserts? If there is Guarana and Capirinha and the food is good than you should be able to make up for it :)

We recently had lunch at Carmines Brazilian Grill on Sheridan Ave. across form capital Rep.
It was VERY good!!
You should try it and help a new business get started.
There was a starter bar (a large salad bar) filled with delicious different salads and stew and soups and of course salad, a quiche, corn bread. It does vary each day a little. There was delicious potato salad and I’m snobby in that dept. A sweet potato and chick pea salad that was a surprising delicious combo. A potato and asparagus salad, a black rice salad, a corn salsa, a seafood chowder, a beef stew, black bean soup, all were quite delicious. I can’t remember all the other choices. And that’s just the starter bar which you can get for 10.00 at lunch time. Then if you want the entire grill menu (I think $14.00 for lunch and $30.00 for dinner) you are served various meats brought out on skewers and placed on your plate one by one until you can’t eat any more meat or taste any more flavors. We received turkey wrapped in bacon, two different kinds of sauced chicken wings, chorizo sausage, filet of beef in a spicy sauce, eye of round , chicken, etc etc etc .They will keep coming until you stop them. They also served side sauces that were very interesting and garlic mashed potatoes and the vegetable of the day was a zucchini red pepper medley very delicious also. The served cheesy hot bread also with the entre.
I should have stopped at the salad bar but I had to try it all for my first visit.
Apparently at night there are even way more choices at the bar and more meats to try.

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