A new breakfast and lunch destination in Norwell offers a dynamic fusion of American and Mexican flavors.By Judy Enright
Nestled within a strip mall on Route 53 in Norwell, Little Carmen’s Restaurant offers diners the opportunity to experience owner/chef Nicole DiGiusto’s creative menu of American dishes with a Mexican twist.
DiGiusto grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents, Carmen and Janet DiGiusto, opened their first restaurant in Santa Maria, California, in the 1960s. The couple later moved east, opening Carmen’s Mexican and American Restaurants in Abington in 1974 and in Weymouth in 1976.
DiGiusto operated her first eatery, Carmen’s Café Nicole, in Plymouth for 15 years before deciding to relocate to Norwell. For more than a month, her friends and family rolled up their sleeves to help renovate the 1,800-square-foot space that was formerly home to Windy City Dogs. In March of 2016, Little Carmen’s was open for business.
The 30-seat restaurant offers daily specials. The morning I visited, there was a frittata special made with bacon, caramelized onion and cheddar cheese served with avocado toast and fresh fruit. I decided on the Huevos con Chorizo, an egg dish flavored with spicy Mexican sausage that was nicely presented and delicious. Side orders of home fries and pico de gallo came served in hollowed out avocado shells and Redeye Roasters coffee completed the meal.
According to DiGiusto, the most popular breakfast dish on the menu is Chilaquiles, a dish made with scrambled eggs and pulled pork served over corn chips with enchilada and verde sauces and finished with mixed cheeses, queso fresco and homemade roasted corn salsa.
The extensive menu has numerous non-Mexican options too including traditional Eggs Benedict and sweet treats like pancakes and waffles that DiGiusto guarantees are the best around.
Take-out breakfast and lunch orders now make up nearly half of Little Carmen’s business, and catering has also started to pick up, with build-your-own taco bars especially popular for home and office parties.
Fish tacos and Catalina salad with shrimp, avocado and roasted corn salsa are among lunch favorites. DiGiusto says she uses two cases of avocados a week for her recipes.
She credits the success of Little Carmen’s to her five-member team of family and friends. “I’m so happy and blessed to be here,” she says.
Looking to the future, DiGiusto hopes to one day open a second Little Carmen’s with her sister. “I’m ready to move forward and grow the business,” she says. While some customers have suggested the restaurant open for dinner, the owner prefers to stick to breakfast and lunch and especially enjoys creating daily specials. “That’s where I can shine and customers love the variety we offer,” she says.
Modern American Cuisine with a Mexican Flare
43 Washington St., Norwell