By Autumn Gates
In today’s fast-paced culture, Carini’s Pizzeria & Trattoria offers a glimmer of the Old World. In a time when much of the restaurant industry has forgotten the meaning behind sharing a meal, Carini’s owner Rod Rinaldi nostalgically recalls a place where everyone looked out for one another and family was cherished. Dinner meant more than just eating; it was a time to connect with loved ones while enjoying a delicious, homemade meal. This is the experience guests can expect when dining at Carini’s.
Located in a peaceful plaza in Bonita Springs, the family-owned restaurant is what some may call a hidden gem. Between Rinaldi’s leadership, the friendliness and perseverance of his team, and the incredible Italian meals they create, business is flourishing at Carini’s.
Worries will dissipate as you’re swept into the atmosphere of this good, old-fashioned trattoria. Smooth jazz music, the smell of fresh baked pizza, and the jubilant smiles of staff and diners alike greet guests as they stroll inside the quaint, Italian eatery.
“I’m not worried if you stay here for two hours,” says Rinaldi. “Dinner is supposed to be an experience.”
Instead of making flipping tables his primary mission, Rinadli focuses on building lasting relationships with his customers. The result is an atmosphere where guests can truly relax while enjoying homemade Italian cuisine, sharing a bottle of wine and engaging in friendly conversation. Rinaldi’s team works together seamlessly – creating a down-to-earth environment, serving customers classic Italian dishes, and mingling with the regulars. Pizza Chef Anthony Reynolds can often be seen rolling out fresh pizza dough in the restaurant’s open kitchen.
Rinaldi’s knack for building relationships and passion for classic recipes stems from his upbringing and rich Italian heritage. Although he was born in Argentina, he spent the majority of his childhood in Connecticut surrounded by his father’s side of the family, who shared their heartfelt passion for Italian cuisine with Rod and his younger brother, Mariano.
After the Rinaldi family moved to southwest Florida, Rod and Mariano spent many years working with their dad, Guiseppe, who opened several local restaurants, including a small Italian eatery called Giuseppe’s Pizzeria and the well-known La Bamba Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in Estero.
Flashforward to today, and the roles have reversed. Rod owns Carini’s, Mariano owns La Bamba, and every now and then, on hectic days, Giuseppe comes to the rescue and works for them.
“We swapped. When I was young, I worked for my dad; now he works for me,” jokes Rinaldi.
The staff at Carini’s is part of the extended “family.”
“We like to have fun at work,” says Rinaldi. “We eat together at the end of the night, and we try to be a family.”
Rinaldi and his team work diligently to treat their customers like family, too, serving them scratch-made Italian classics like chicken parmesan and baked ziti. The beauty of these dishes lies in their simplicity.
“Some of the most basic Italian dishes are a lost art. I try to bring them back,” says Rinaldi.
Fried Calamari – This shareable starter is the perfect way to kick off an Italian seafood feast. The calamari are dusted in seasoned flour and fried to a crispy perfection. And the best part – the plate is served with fresh lemons and a generous helping of Carini’s delicious, homemade marinara sauce!
Antipasto for Two – In Italy, antipasto is served as the first course in most traditional eateries. The healthy but eye-catching starter features Italian meats, provolone, mozzarella, giardiniera, artichoke hearts, olives, onions, roasted red peppers, cauliflower, cucumber and tomatoes all served over a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuces. This hearty salad is completed with a homemade Italian vinaigrette.
Frutti Di Mare – Frutti Di Mare is a popular Italian seafood dish meaning “fruit of the sea.” This divine blend of shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels is coated in Carini’s homemade marinara sauce and topped with fresh parsley. The assortment is paired with your choice of spaghetti, linguini, penne, fettucine or mixed vegetables. Diners can choose to kick it up by substituting the marinara for spicy fra diavolo sauce.
Cavatelli Bolognese – The Cavatelli Bolognese is simple, yet so delicious and filling! This classic, Italian comfort food features cavatelli (small pasta shells native to Southern Italy) swimming in a creamy, homemade Bolognese sauce and sprinkled with fresh herbs.
Grandma Pie – Craving a pizza that’s light, airy and has the perfect crunch? Chef Reynolds has you covered! Every day, he crafts his freshly prepared, homemade pizza dough into a variety of delectable, thin crust pizzas. The Grandma Pie adds chunks of creamy mozzarella, dabs of homemade marinara sauce and basil ribbons onto a traditional cheese pizza.
Cannoli, Tiramisu & Limoncello Cake – For guests with a sweet tooth, Carini’s offers an incredible selection of tasty desserts. The Cannoli is a crispy pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese and chocolate chips. Classic Tiramisu features lady fingers layered with a rich, mascarpone cheese and topped with espresso grounds. And the Limoncello cake is a refreshing custard topped with crema and white chocolate shavings. All these desserts come topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup.
Carini’s Pizzeria & Trattoria
24611 Production Circle