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Chef Peter Carini's dad was a fisherman in Sicily, so he knows what to do with shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams - cook them in a rich, spicy sauce and serve over pasta. Go to Carini's La Conca d'Oro and see what else he can do, with veal, beef and chicken, too.

Top 10 Seafood Restaurants - 3 Stars - Dennis Getto

3-1/2 Stars - Sheperd Express


KEY Milwaukee Magazine
February 2000 issue

Visit Carini's La Conca d'Oro at its convenient east-side location, 3468 N. Oakland Ave., and you'll enjoy Sicilian delicacies prepared by a master and served in a gracious, friendly atmosphere.

Here, casually dressed diners mingle with those dressed in business attire. Italian music playing on the sound system and the seascape paintings and fishnets filled with shells adorning the wall are clues to the specialty here. Chef-owner Peter Carini came to the U.S. in 1966 from Porticello, a small fishing village near Palermo, where he learned from his mother that good Italian food is prepared by taste, touch and instinct. Peter also brought to America a great knowledge of seafood. Dishes are individually prepared in a simple manner using the freshest foods and the finest ingredients. The chef insists on a "scratch kitchen," with no commercially made mixes or shortcuts.

The restaurant's name means "Conch of Gold," although conch is served only as an appetizer. Seafood specialties include dishes featuring squid, clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels, swordfish, cod, tuna and salmon. Carini's caters to beef-lovers as well, and those who have a taste for chicken or veal.

Vegetarians have discovered that Carini's has a number of choices for them as well. An example of the imaginative touch brought to non-meat offerings is the eggplant spidieni. Thin slices of eggplant are rolled and stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese and special Italian spices, then topped with tomato sauce. Visit Carini's for lunch, and you can select an entree from the complete lunch menu, or treat yourself to the best vegetarian lunch buffet in Milwaukee. Items on the buffet change daily, but always include soups, salads and a variety of entrees.

At dinner, the 13 appetizers offered include banked conch and deep fried, breaded calamari. Always a good indication of how skilled a chef is with seafood, the calamari here passes the test with flying colors.

The 21 pasta dishes include a classic lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo, or more unusual choices such as spaghetti with fresh tuna, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, oil and garlic. The house special, La Conca d'Oro, combines thin pasta with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and calamari with special seasonings in a tomato sauce.

Non-pasta diners are served with choice of potato or pasta, and soup or salad. Try fresh cod topped with tomatoes, scallions, capers, basil fresh lemon and olive oil, wrapped in parchment and baked. Sicilian steak is tenderloin breaded with parmesan cheese and Italian seasonings, while Steak Diane combines tenderloin of beef in a brandy and mushroom sauce.

Carinis's offers breast of chicken sauteed with mushrooms and imported marsala wine with chicken marsala, and a chicken spiedini is among the five kinds of spiedini served at Carini's. On the veal side of the menu, Vitello Florentino is tender veal sauteed with spinach, topped with mozzarella and served under a blanket of fresh tomato sauce.

You can take a little bit of Carini's home with you, as the restaurant sells its marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce and flavored garlic oils at the restaurant, as well as various east-side specialty stores. Gift boxes also are available.

 * Prices and items may have changed since the publication of this article. *