To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to trying Carbone everyone said they loved it but how could I trust people when Carbone was supposed to be old school “American Italian” food. I go to Italy every year and don’t want American-Italian food, I want Italian-Italian food!
The restaurant is located at 181 Thompson Street in Greenwich Village. It has a good pedigree, as it is from the same guys, the Torrisi team who did Dirty French. I have also heard it has been a hit since the day it opened three years ago. It is nearly impossible to get a reservation at Carbone. In fact, getting in is like winning the lottery. Now I see why – it was fantastic, why did I wait so long to come here?
It is much easier to get a table at lunch, Monday to Friday, so that is the route we took.
The service was excellent. Our waiter Steve has been there since day one, and he was very gracious and made us feel at home.
I had heard that Mario Carbone and Richard Torrisi’s restaurant was very traditional, and it was. From the starchy white table cloths, to the formal wait staff in burgundy tuxes and bow ties by Zac Posen, old school music (which was great by the way) and a notable wine list, you were transported back in time with flair. I felt like I could be in a Soprano’s episode, it had that kind of feel.
There was an avalanche of food, dish after dish served with great ceremony. First they tempt you with salami, mozzarella, garlic bread, and this is even before your food arrives.
The lobster salad and raw thinly sliced scallops with crispy artichokes were both delicious. The house chopped salad was a cornucopia of brightly coloured vegetables and lettuce.
The meatballs we had were unbelievable and may be the best I have ever had.
The spicy rigatoni in a creamy tomato vodka sauce is what dreams are made of and was truly unforgettable for me. Next time I have to try the vongole, but there is only so much even I can eat. The contorni of asparagus and mushrooms were also done well.
For dessert we tried their famous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, candied walnuts and ginger ice cream. I have to say it was a moist and towering stunner, but I may have preferred the tiramisu layer cake topped with nutella frosting.
I have to say this meal exceeded all my expectations. The restaurant deserves their well-earned reputation. It was deeply comforting food.
This food does not come cheap, it is hard to find a wine under $100 on the menu. Veal Parmesan is $65, but it is enough for two to share.
I need to come back for dinner as I hear the bread basket is out of this world.
Carbone had an eclectic mix of patrons. Everything from hipsters to bankers to the food obsessed like me.
The food was big, bold and beautiful.