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“Musical Deli” Hits All the Right Notes

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A Sandwich with a Side of Songs

Music nights at Carmine’s

For the past two decades, Carmine’s Deli has been delighting Elmsford residents and visitors with its signature sandwiches and wraps. More recently, they’ve been serving up their popular fare with a side of entertainment with their “Music @ THE DELI” nights. Premiering last spring, it presents live performances from local artists, including teen musicians from Westchester music schools. We spoke with Carmine’s Music Director Joe Palombo about the program and their aspirations for it as an unlikely musical hub in the community.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Joe Palombo: I was born and raised in West Harrison but have lived in White Plains for the past 30 years. My career is diverse —I have been a stand-up comedian, acted in commercials, and was in the music education business for 13 years. My main work is that I am a business turn-around specialist. My current project is I’m working on a company and building an association that advocates for the use of technology to spread the gospel; I have a book coming out soon, The Digital Age of Worship.

My project at Carmine’s is a passion play; I love music and creating something from nothing. My relationship with Carmine’s is not motivated by profit — rather preserving the creativity of music expression.

How did the Music @ THE DELI program at Carmine’s get started?
 Carmine’s has been owned by Rob Venuti for the past 20 years. Rob grew up in Elmsford and is also a singer in the band The Surf. We met through a mutual friend about eight months ago. That close friend, who was a big part of my life in the music business, knew that Rob and I would hit it off. We met and were instantly on the same page. Music @The Deli was born out of both our passions.

What’s your intent with bringing music into the Deli?
 It’s not just a place for music — we are creating a musical hub and community in lower Westchester through Music @ THE DELI with a goal to preserve, educate and promote the creativity, legacy, and passion of music. In addition to regular music nights, we have partnerships with the Hudson Valley Blues Society and Westchester Bluegrass Club and have also created opportunities for teen musicians from the White Plains High School  Songwriters Club, the White Plains School of Rock, and the Lagond Music in Elmsford to perform at the Deli.

We even have plans to start a foundation to support youth at risk. I was in the music business for a long time and will be tapping into my network of well-known musicians who will bring their years of experience to the Deli to help educate people.

What can first-time visitors expect if they come to a music night at Carmine’s?
The key that guests should understand is that Carmine’s Music @ THE DELI is all 100% focused on the music — the fun, the joy, and all the feelings you get when you experience music that moves you. When I pick bands, I am looking for something unique with a hook. If a band reaches out to me, my first question is always, “What makes you different?” There are a lot of talented bands out there playing all kinds of music, but if you reach out to me, don’t just tell me, “We play ’80s or ’90s rock or classic rock.”

What’s been the response from customers and the community?
Palombo: The response has been a little more than we were prepared to handle, to be honest. There have been nights when we have been totally overwhelmed. But we all work as a team to get the job done. Rob really knows what he is doing on the food side — everything is fresh, and he even has homemade vegan options. It seems like everyone really gets what we are trying to do.

What’s the schedule for music nights?
Palombo: Friday nights, 6 to 8 p.m., is happy hour with karaoke led by Marie Pellegrino. Marie was just a customer, and now she handles the karaoke like a pro and makes it a lot of fun. That really tells you a lot about Carmine’s — it’s not about perfection; it’s about having fun. Bands go at 8 p.m. Saturday nights, doors open at 7 p.m., and most Saturdays you will get two bands for the price of one. The best way to get a feel for what we do is to check out our schedule online at https://MusicAtTheDeli.EventBrite.com

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